Cutting bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta from your diet might help you lose weight in the short term, but in the long term, could shave years off your life, according to new research presented today at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. Together with a study published last week in Science Translational Medicine that showed high-fat diets inhibit a person’s ability to feel full over the long term, research appears to be lining up against diets that encourage high fat intake and abhor carbs, like keto, Atkins, or paleo.
The study — which analyzed the results of almost 25,000 participants of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 to 2010 — found that people who consumed the least carbohydrates were at higher risk of premature death, including from coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.
“Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death,” Maciej Banach, a professor at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland and the paper’s lead author, said in a statement.
The researchers found that participants who ate the least carbohydrates had a 32 percent higher risk of dying from any case, while risks of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer rose by 51 percent, 50 percent and 35 percent respectively. They also controlled for obesity, and found that the link between premature death and low carbohydrate diets was actually strongest in non-obese older participants.
The reduced intake of fiber and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat with these diets might explain the link between cutting out carbohydrates and premature death, said Dr. Banach. But if those carbohydrates are mainly replaced with plant-based foods (rather than meat) the diet may not be dangerous, according to another study published in the journal The Lancet earlier this month.
While obesity is a major global health issue which increases individuals’ risk for a number of chronic health conditions, the researchers said their findings showed that cutting out carbs to lose weight might not be the best long-term solution. “Low carbohydrate diets are unsafe,” said Dr. Banach, “and should not be recommended.”'