Low-Carb Diets Increase Mortality Risk, According to Study


We’ve all heard that moderation is the key to living a healthy life. But could it also help you live longer? According to a new study, people who follow a high-carb or a low-carb diet are at a higher risk of early death than those who eat this food staple moderately.

A recent study found that people who followed a diet with more than 70 per cent or less than 40 per cent of their daily calories coming from carbs were at a higher risk of early death

Moderation is Key

Carbohydrates (or carbs) have been vilified in the weight loss community from the beginning of time but a new groundbreaking research is showing how important this food group is to live a long healthy life.

The study found that people who followed a diet with more than 70 per cent or less than 40 per cent of their daily calories coming from carbs were at a higher risk of early death. Whereas, people who ate moderate amounts ranging from 40 per cent to 70 per cent had a normal lifespan.

The study which was published on Thursday observed that the ideal carb range for the lowest risk of mortality was between 50 and 55 per cent. It explained that people who eat any less than 40 per cent carbs on a daily basis are more likely to make up the deficit by adding more fat and protein from animal products to their diet.

Overconsumption of lamb, beef, chicken, cheese and butter can boost the mortality risk whereas people who relied mostly on plant-based foods for protein decreased their risk of early death.

Long-Term Impacts of Low-Carb

Sara Seidelmann, a research fellow in Boston’s Women’s Hospital who led the study, says that people need to pay more attention to the compounds in their diets that can potentially increase their lifespan. She also warns that giving up carbs like potatoes, breads and pasta can increase our reliance on foods that aren’t healthy.

Although many researchers have shown in the past that low-carb diets can help with short-term weight loss, Sara says that there can be a number of adverse consequences of following this lifestyle over the long run. She adds that there is an urgent need for more studies that look into the long-term negative effects of low-carb diets which have become extremely popular over the last few years.

Seidelmann said that, despite the widespread belief, not all carbohydrates are bad for health. The study shows that carbs from animal products are more likely to increase mortality which is why meat-based diets should be discouraged.

Less than 30 percent of an average 2,000 calorie diet equates to just 150 grams of carbs per day. With almost 50 grams coming from natural or added sugar, what’s left is 100 grams or less of complex carbs, which is hardly enough for a sustainable lifestyle.

The Research

Dietician Catherine Collins from National Health Service of U.K. says that with less than 100 grams of complex carbs, it’s almost impossible to avoid a fiber deficiency, which is crucial for normal bowel movements and controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

According to the dietary guidelines by U.K.’s government, starchy foods should make up at least a third of your daily caloric intake. The study’s findings could disappoint the proponents of Ketogenic or other low-carb diets but they do highlight the benefit of adopting a balanced approach towards nutrition.

The research team looked at data from over 15,000 people between the age of 45 and 64 from different economic and geographical backgrounds. The participants filled out questionnaires outlining how many calories they consume each day and how much of their caloric intake actually comes from carbs. Researchers also gathered information on different foods and drinks people consume, their portion sizes and how much food they eat. 25 years later, it was found that 6,283 of the participants had died.

The results showed that those who adhered to the optimal range of carb consumptions were able to increase their life expectancy by 4 years in comparison to those who followed a low carb diet and only one year higher than participants whose carb consumption was over 70 per cent.

These results were combined with other studies done in the past on similar subject matter, only to show a similar trend in mortality rates.