Eating Carbs in Moderation May Help You Live Longer

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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Eating Carbs in Moderation May Help You Live Longer

While a low-carb diet might be beneficial for weight loss — a 2018 study found overweight dieters who cut their carbohydrate intake lost an average of 13 pounds — cutting carbs could also cut years from your life.

THE LATEST RESEARCH

Two new studies found connections between low-carb diets and premature death. In a study published in The Lancet, researchers followed 15,428 adults and found a connection between carbohydrate consumption and the risk of dying during the 25-year study period.

Moreover, research presented at the 2018 European Society of Cardiology conference reviewed the results of seven studies with 447,506 participants over 15 years and found an association between low-carb diets (defined as fewer than 26% of daily calories from carbohydrates) and an increased risk of premature death, including death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Dr. Maciej Banach, professor at the Medical University in Poland explains, “The reduced intake of fiber and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol and saturated fat with these diets may play a role [in increased mortality risk].”

THE BIGGEST RISK

The participants who adopted low-carb diets and replaced carbs with animal proteins and fat were at the greatest risk of premature death. In other words, cutting out bread and pasta but eating beef and pork instead is a recipe for health issues.

That’s because it’s not just about adding unhealthy foods but cutting those that are full of nutrients. Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University and author of “Nutrition & You” believes the potential for weight loss leads a lot of dieters to cut carbs but warns, “You end up eliminating a lot of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and dairy products — all carbohydrates — that are part of a healthy diet.”

HOW MUCH AND WHAT TYPES OF CARBS SHOULD YOU AIM FOR?

You should get between 45–65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. In fact, in a 16-week study, increasing carbohydrate intake helped participants lower their body mass index, weight, fat mass and insulin resistance.

The Lancet research found the risks of premature death were minimized when filling up on complex carbs from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. “Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show healthy carbohydrates are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” Dr. Hana Kahleova, study author and director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explained in a statement.

THE BOTTOM LINE

“A low-carb diet might help you lose weight in the beginning but, over the long-term, there is no benefit and there might even be significant risks,” Blake says. Instead, Blake recommends eating everything in moderation, including carbohydrates, and making sure to opt for complex over refined sources.

About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.

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12 responses to “Eating Carbs in Moderation May Help You Live Longer”

  1. Avatar Bridget says:

    This article just said the same thing over and over without providing important information. First, what is considered as a premature death? What percent of the 15,000 died prematurely? What percentage were put on a low carb diet? Was there any specific ailments, diseases, illness, etc. that caused a high percentage of these deaths? Did any of these people have any have preexisting conditions or have a family history of disease or illness (if that was even the cause at all)? The list goes on.

    Also, veggies, dairy, nuts and berries are all a-ok on a keto or low carb diet. Long story short, more research and/or information needs to be added for this article to be helpful or informative in any way .

  2. Avatar Anthony says:

    This study has been thoroughly debunked. The experimental “low-carb” group derived 37% of their calories from carbs. That is nowhere near keto. 37% is enough to eat Big Macs and pizza. The experimental group was just a higher-fat version of the standard American diet, which not surprisingly, isn’t very healthy.

    The experimental group had a disproportionate amount of smokers and participants with pre-existing health issues (e.g., diabetes) compared to the “moderate carb” group.

    I think it’s also prudent to be careful of making broad, sweeping assumptions based on epidemiological studies. Declaring “moderate carbs help you live longer” is very click-baity and misleading.

    • Avatar RastaFourEye says:

      There are 2 studies. Have they both been debunked? And who by? Scientific peers or people who make their money from the low-carb diet industry. All these articles are click-baity. Ads are revenue.

  3. will add low carb in mine weight loss diet .thanks for nice article .keep sharing

  4. Avatar Thales Nemo says:

    Another nonsensical dietary article built upon weak associational studies which have long been disproven from Banting to the current LCHF diet !

    Their definition of “Low carb” is incorrect, it is defined by consuming less than 120 grams of carbs per day. Most writers give a range of 50-100 grams of carb per day .

    Challenge question : Please name the carbohydrate deficiency disease!

    Dietary advise for the last 70 years has been wrong due to hubris, confirmation bias , ego and bad science ! The idea that humans should eat carbohydrates is wrong or that meats are bad is also wrong .

    Saturated fats are stable and the good fats !

  5. Avatar Jane Jewell says:

    This article is so full of errors I hardly know where to start.
    26% of calories from carbs is NOT a low carb diet. Those of us following a real low carb diet consider 26% carbs a high carb diet. Add more fat to this, and you’re are asking for trouble.

    As for quoting the USA dietary guidelines, they have been shown to be thoroughly fraudulent, written by those funded by the food industry – who want you to keep eating sugar, wheat, and all the other grains.

    For all those perplexed as to what to believe, I urge you to read Nina Teicholz’ Big Fat Surprise that exposes the thorough corruption that brought the USA dietary guidelines into being, and the terrible smear campaigns against such honorable doctors as John Ludkin who had their careers ruined for daring to speak the truth.
    Gary Taubes’ books also very much worth reading.

  6. Avatar Bradley says:

    I continue to be disappointed by the junk science posted on MyFitnessPal. This type of analysis – observational science – is what lead the Nurses Heath Study to show HRT decreased mortality in the ‘90’s only to have a legitimate study of HRT (Women’s Health Initiative) show it causes heart attacks. Any reader shouldn’t make any decisions from this article – it’s not science – just opinion. I expect better review of blog posts UA.

  7. Avatar Nick Stuart says:

    Ms. Helmer seems like a nice person with her rescue dogs and all, but what is her qualification to write on the subject of LCHF/Keto vs other model diets? The fact that she writes diet articles qualifies her to write diet articles?

    This blog post is nothing more than the same conventional wisdom that has been shoveled out to us for decades. Agree with other posters that it is very disappointing that this would show up on a blog that people might turn to for factual commentary on diet.

  8. Avatar Tumblemark says:

    This report is not actually of a study. It is based on a press release and that press release was based on a brief poster presentation, not a presented paper or peer reviewed publication; track the references down and you’ll see. But even then, the “research” was a prospective study and meta analysis of NHANES data, so it doesn’t represent original research, much less a randomized controlled trial. There’s no relevant reference to any work by Banach M. (the original author) on PubMed. Any time you see NHANES you know that the correlations may be interesting, but pretty rough cut. That’s why they report “low carb” as 26% of calories; which we all know is bogus, but NHANES didn’t collect data on participants that were what we would call low carb today. I lament, with others, at the low value of UA articles from writers whose qualifications are that they write articles. At least they are not registered dietitians, who we know have drunk the Kool-Aid.

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