These days, low-carb diets are more popular than ever. But this weight-loss strategy is hardly new, believe me this thing began in the 1960s with the Atkins diet, followed by the South Beach, paleo, and keto diets. All these diets — which swap carbohydrates for protein or fat — can help some people lose weight, at least over the short term.
But as is true for most diets that require you to avoid many popular foods, low-carb diets are often hard to maintain over the long haul. And if you do keep your carb intake low, the long-term effects on your heart and overall health remain something of a mystery so far. But a new study provides some clues.
The study, which included more than 15,400 people, upholds the adage of moderation in all things. Researchers found that on average, people whose diets included moderate amounts of carbohydrate (50% to 55% of calories) lived about four years longer than people who ate lower-carb diets (fewer than 40% of calories from carbs) and a year longer than people with high-carb intakes (more than 70% of calories).
What replaces missing carbs?
Of course, man does not live by bread alone — the rest of your diet matters, too. "Just calling it a low-carb diet isn't enough. You must know the sources of the other calories in the diet.
That's why the researchers homed in on exactly what types of protein and fat were filling in for the missing carbs among those in the low-carb group. Eating more animal-based proteins and fats from foods (such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and cheese) instead of carbohydrates was linked to a greater risk of early death. Eating more plant-based proteins and fats (from vegetables, legumes, and nuts) was linked to a lower risk.
Researchers asked participants about their diets twice (at the start and after six years), then kept track of their health for a median of 25 years after the study began. All were part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes people from four communities in the United States. Although not a perfect representation of America's and rest the world population, the participants were from a variety of races and cultures.
The investigators then combined the ARIC results with findings from seven multinational studies (including studies from Greece, Sweden, and Japan) that also looked at carbohydrate intake and longevity. The upshot: people with high and low carbohydrate intakes had shorter life expectancies than those who ate moderate amounts of carbs. The study was published in the August 16 Lancet Public Health.
If you consider the diverse diets that people eat across the globe, the results consistently support the benefit of a moderate-carb diet. The take-home message is also in line with what he and other nutrition experts have advocated for years: eat a mostly plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean or DASH diet, with animal-based protein (if desired) in limited amounts.
A balance diet is the best method for losing weight, along with regular well designed workout programme
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