Low and High Carb Diets Both Risk Health


A new study has found that eating either a low-carb diet or a high-carb diet can increase the risk of early death.

The study concluded that eating a moderate amount of carbs is the healthiest option.

Atkins diet

Reducing or eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, such as through following Atkins and Dukan diets, has been a popular way for people to lose weight for a number of years now.

The main sources of carbohydrates include potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Cutting these from the diet can lead to weight loss in the short term. However, a new study has found that reducing carb intake could reduce life expectancy.

Length of life

A study published in The Lancet Public Health involved looking at questionnaires filled in by over 15,000 people (aged 45–64 years) on what they ate and drank. The people were followed up for around 25 years.

The researchers looked at the relationship between what they ate and how long they lived.

Replacing carbs

The results showed that both high and low percentages of carbohydrate in people’s diets were associated with increased risk of death. Those that got less than 40% or more than 70% of their calories from carbohydrates were more at risk.

The study found that 50-year-olds who ate a moderate carb diet (made up of around 50–55% carbs) had a further life expectancy of 33 years – this is four years longer than those on low-carb diets and one year longer than those on high-carb diets.

Animal products

In particular, those diets that involved replacing carbs with meat and fat were associated with a shorter overall lifespan, whereas when the carbs were replaced by plant-based proteins and fats, the lifespan increased. 

The authors believe that the reasons behind this association could be that animal products can stimulate inflammatory pathways, biological ageing and oxidative stress.

Plant-based diet

Dr Sara Seidelmann, one of the researchers, said: “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.”

Recommendations on carb intake vary, but most advise eating carbs with every meal, but choosing wholegrain varieties such as brown rice, and wholegrain pasta and bread. Carbs are a good source of energy, and wholegrain carbohydrate sources are a good source of fibre.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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