Celebrity low-carb diets 'take years off your life'
Eating a diet low in carbohydrates could mean you die younger, a 25-year study has suggested.
Food plans which replace carbs with protein and fat, such as the Ketogenic or Atkins diets, have gained popularity, and been endorsed by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian. But research found those with low-carb diets died an average of four years earlier than those with moderate intakes. Even people with high intakes fared better than those who cut out carbohydrates.
"Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy," said study leader Dr Sara Seidelmann, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.
"However, our data suggests that animal-based low-carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged. 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."
For the study, which was published in 'Lancet Public Health', researchers followed 15,428 adults aged 45-64 over two decades from 1987.
The researchers found that, from age 50, average life expectancy was 83 for those with moderate carbohydrate intake (50-55pc of daily calories), which was four years longer than those with very low carbohydrate consumption (less than 40pc of calories) who lived an average of 79 years. Those with a high carb intake (greater than 70pc of daily calories), lived until an average age of 82.
Researchers also found replacing carbohydrates with protein and fat from animal sources was associated with a higher risk of mortality than moderate carbohydrate intake whereas replacing with plant-based foods was linked to a lower risk of mortality. The authors speculated that Western-type diets that heavily restrict carbohydrates often lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats, which may drive inflammation, biological ageing and oxidative stress.
Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian in the UK, said: "No aspect of nutrition is so hotly contended on social media than the carb versus fat debate, despite the long-term evidence on health benefits supporting the higher carb argument."