Cutting back on carbohydrates is an important part of a healthy weight loss program. But then the question becomes, what to put in their place?
A new study from Lancet Public Health Journal says people who choose to replace carbs with meat and cheeses may be increasing their risk of premature death. Previous research has clearly shown that low carbohydrate diets lead to better success in weight loss and over all risk factors, such as premature death from diabetes. But, less is known about long-term results of lowering carbs and what is considered an optimal alternative.
Results from various studies add to a large and growing body of evidence suggesting that a balanced diet is best.
More than 15,000 adults ages 45-65 were followed for 25 years. In that time, 6,283 died. Those who ate 50-55 percent of their calories from carbohydrates had a lower risk of death from all causes during the research. Those who ate lower OR higher amounts of carbs had a higher risk. The types of foods people ate instead of carbs were associated with very different types of outcomes.
“Replacing carbohydrates with animal based proteins or fat was associated with a higher mortality. This was reversed when energy from carbohydrates was replaced with plant based proteins.” said lead study author Dr. Sara Seidelmann of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Seidelmann explained:
“The key message from this study is that it is not enough to focus on cutting carbohydrates alone, but instead to focus on the types of food replacing them. The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how eating fewer carbohydrates or more vegetables might directly impact longevity. But it’s possible plant-based proteins help people live longer by reducing inflammation and the so-called oxidative stress. As the body uses oxygen, it produces by-products called free radicals that can damage cells and tissues. The damage by oxygen free radicals is known as oxidative stress. At the same-time, it’s possible the reverse may be true for meats, and especially for processed meats. Animal proteins and fats might have negative health effects because they cause inflammation and oxidative stress.”
Researchers estimated that from age 50, the average life expectancy was an additional 33 years for people with moderate carbohydrate intake, where carbs accounted for 50 to 55 percent of their calories. High carbohydrate intake – representing more than 70 percent of calories – was associated with average life expectancy of about 32 years. Low carbohydrate intake – representing less than 40 percent of calories – was associated with life expectancy of 29 years. One limitation of the study is that researchers only assessed eating habits twice, at the start of the study and again six years later, and participants’ diets may have shifted over time.
Even so, the results add to a large and growing body of evidence suggesting that a balanced diet is best. According to Andrew Mente, coauthor of research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “The new study shows that a moderate amount of carbohydrates is optimal, while too low or too high was related to mortality,” Mente said. “A moderate amount of carbohydrates generally translates into a balanced diet that includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, dairy and unprocessed meats, all in moderate amounts.”
It makes sense. We all know eating healthy will help us to liver longer and maintain a better weight. Having proof is always nice to hear. By lowering carbohydrates to half of your daily intake and adding more fruits, nuts, and vegetables, you’ll see long- lasting results.