Both Low And High-Carb Diets Can Shorten Fashion, Study Suggests

A US study over 25 years has found that both a low and high-carb can seriously affect your risk of death.

Female dieter crushing belgian bun
Getty ImagesPeter Dazeley

If you shake your head when offered rice, bread and croissants for reasons of weight loss and health, let us let you into a little secret - it's completely pointless focusing on carbohydrates.

And before you start thinking we're being evangelical beige-coloured food lovers over here (which, of course we are), scientists have now discovered that eating either a low-carb diet or a high-carb diet raises the risk of an early death.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In the study, published in , 15,400 people (aged 45 to 64) from the US filled out questionnaires on the food and drink they consumed, along with portion sizes. From this, scientists estimated the proportion of calories they got from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Woman eating a croissant with jam
Getty ImagesDulin

The results were then pooled with seven other observational studies carried out across the world, involving a total of more than 430,000 people.

After following the group for an average of 25 years, researchers found that less than 40 per cent or more than 70 per cent of calories that came from carbs actually carried a higher risk of mortality.

However, those that received 50-55 per cent of their energy from carbohydrates had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups. As a result, researchers estimated that people in the moderate carb group (aged over 50) were on average expected to live for another 33 years.

Variety of pasta
Getty ImagesClaudia Totir
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Of course, not all low-carb diets work in the same way. For example, people who ate a lot of meat and fats (similar to meal plans on the popular Atkins and Dukan weight loss diets) instead of carbohydrates had a higher mortality risk than those who received their protein and fats from plant-based foods such as avocados and nuts.

Dr Sara Seidelmann, clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who led the research, said: 'Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight-loss strategy.'

She added that low-carb diets are popular for weight loss but only work well in the short term and actually aren't too good for your longterm health.

'However, our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged.

Woman being concerned about waistline
Getty ImagesPhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou

'Instead, if one chooses to follow a low-carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.'

The authors of the studies also said that Western-type diets that restrict carbohydrates often result in lower intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains. In turn, this can lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats, which have been linked to inflammation and ageing in the body.

Prof Nita Forouhi, from the MRC epidemiology unit at University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study, told the : 'When carbohydrate intake is reduced in the diet, there are benefits when this is replaced with plant-origin fat and protein food sources, but not when replaced with animal-origin sources such as meats.'

Young woman drinking vegetable smoothie in kitchen
Getty ImagesMatt Lincoln

Despite the studies findings, it's important to remember that the results show observational links between carb consumption and mortality risks, rather than cause-and-effect.

Here's a list of the best plant-based proteins:

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
Lentils
Chickpeas
Almonds
Spirulina
Quinoa
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Potatoes
Beans with rice
Kale
Spinach

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From People