There are plenty of benefits to be gained from following a specific diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For instance, you control your calorie, fat, and protein intake on a daily basis. However, with today’s numerous trendy diets, it may become confusing, and dangerous at times, to take on a new diet without fully comprehending its potential side effects. Unfortunately, after closely observing certain diets, researchers often find that most diets can cause more harm than good, as in the case of the popular keto diet.
Researchers had more than 15,000 people in the U.S. fill out self-reported questionnaires regarding their diets, including the foods they consumed and the amounts they ate. Drawing from the reported information, they were then able to determine the amount of calories participants ate on average, along with how their macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) were broken down. Participants who ate less than 600 calories or more than 4,200 calories were not included in the results.
After following the participants for nearly 25 years, researchers concluded that a 50-year-old person who consumed a moderate amount of carbs (50 to 55 percent of their calories from carbs) would live an average of four years longer than someone who ate a super-low carb diet (less than 30 percent of their calories from carbs) and roughly two years longer than a person following a traditional low-carb diet (30 to 40 percent of their calories from carbs). This explains why people following the popular keto diet might want to reconsider their eating plan, as it is typically comprised of just five percent carbs.
The research also indicated that high-carb diets were risky as well. People who follow moderate-carb diets are estimated to outlive those who get more than 65 percent of their calories from carbs by one year.
The difference? The foods consumed. For those who follow a low-carb diet, swapping those carbs for plant-based proteins, rather than animal proteins, saw a slightly reduced risk of early death.
Why Are Low Carb Intakes Dangerous?
The study’s authors explain that people who cut out carbs tend to replace them with fewer vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, all of which are packed with disease-fighting phytochemicals, heart-healthy fatty acids, gut-filling fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
For instance, those who follow a keto diet are inclined to avoid certain fruits and vegetables completely and remove them from their diets because they are loaded with carbs and replace them with keto-friendly foods high in calories and fat, such as processed meats or low-carb snacks. While not every keto lover eats the same way, similar patterns tend to develop over time.
According to a 2017 state-by-state report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, findings confirm that people struggle in this area as a whole, as only 13 percent of adults eat the recommended amounts of fruits and 9 percent eat the necessary amounts of vegetables.
While slashing carbs can cause weight loss, it could be damaging other parts of the body. Time and again, many research and studies have shown that eating too much red meat can lead to disease, while filling up on fruits and vegetables can lower that risk, according to the official position paper from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
However, if large amounts of carbs are consumed in high-carb diets, it can lead to severe health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
The Bottom Line?
Recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the average adult woman consume 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbs, 10 to 35 percent from protein, and 20 to 35 percent from fat. Intake depends on factors such as age, gender, and activity levels, but finding a proper balance can help ensure a healthy diet and a longer life.