Study Shows Low Carb Diets Linked with Shorter Life

Low carb diets are all the rage: there is the ketogenic diet that is high in fats and low in carbohydrates as well as Atkin’s and the Zone and most of the other weight loss programs out there that are high in protein and low in carbs. Most of the creators and followers of these low carb diets won’t be thrilled by the latest scientific findings—apparently the diet that may (or may not) give you a smaller waistline will also shorten your life.

That’s because a new study published in the medical journal The Lancet Public Health found that low carb diets shorten lifespan. The scientists assessed 15,428 adults aged 45 to 64 and discovered that those people who ate between 50 and 55 percent of their dietary caloric intake as carbohydrates had a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a longer lifespan, while those who had either a very low carb diet (40 percent of total dietary caloric intake) or very high carb diet (70 percent of total dietary caloric intake) had the greatest risk of death from any cause and a shortened lifespan.

Additionally, the researchers also found that when carbohydrates were replaced with either animal protein or fat, the risk of death significantly increased while those who replaced carbohydrates with plant-based foods, the risk of death dropped. A high carb diet usually consists of high amounts of sugar and refined grains, which would account for the increase in death risk associated with a very high carb diet.

Carbohydrates are divided into 2 main categories: complex and simple. Complex carbs are whole grains while simple carbs are usually sugars, white flour products, white rice and foods made with these refined ingredients. Complex carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet while simple or refined carbs are not.

Considering that most of the popular weight loss diets include animal protein at every meal, which also means animal fat at every meal, as well as a focus on low carbohydrates, that’s a disturbing trend. Even if many of these weight loss programs worked for people, which is not always the case, trading in fat for a shortened lifespan and the resulting disease that accompanies it, is unacceptable. No self-respecting nutritional authority or corporation would consider risking peoples lives in this way.

Interestingly, the researchers found that those who replaced carbs with plant-based protein and sources, such as vegetables, nuts and nut butters, whole grains, and other healthy foods reaped the benefits of a longer lifespan.

Make the Switch to a Longevity-Supporting Diet

Fortunately, it is much easier than most people think to start eating a higher percentage of foods as plant-based options. And, it is equally easy to eat a diet that contains moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Switch white rice to brown rice.
  • Switch white bread or “whole grain” bread to 100% whole grain bread. “Whole grain” bread is usually a handful of whole grain flour mixed with refined, white flour.
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruit over most baked goods for snacks and desserts.
  • Make vegetables the focal point of every meal, rather than meat or potatoes.
  • Eat a large salad topped with a homemade olive oil and apple cider vinegar vinaigrette and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
  • Switch out starchy, white potatoes for sweet potatoes and other vegetables.
  • Choose a plant-based protein for most or every meal. If this feels daunting, start by switching out a meal every day and increase that amount until your diet is largely or completely plant-based. Check out my blog “Top Vegan Sources of Protein” to help you get started.
  • Choose brown rice, quinoa, black bean or seaweed-based pastas over white or semolina flour pastas.
  • Add a ½ cup of beans to most meals.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to eat a healthy diet with moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates that supports both your waistline and your long-term health and longevity.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health and Get Slim with Enzyme-Rich FoodsFollow her work.


Julie D
Julie D11 days ago

There are so many fad diets, so many trendy diets, so much conflicting information. The best thing is to cook well balanced meals at home using fresh ingredients of a well rounded variety, mostly veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, protein, healthy carbs (a fresh potato instead of potato chips), eggs, some dairy, spices, and healthy fats, low salt, low sugar, avoiding processed foods. No fad or trendy diets that omit entire food groups. We need a little bit of everything to be healthy.

Past Member
Past Member 15 days ago

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heather g
heather g15 days ago

Stay healthy!

Teresa A
Teresa A16 days ago

Thank you

michela c
michela c16 days ago

Veggies are better!

michela c
michela c16 days ago


Larry McDaniel
Larry McDaniel16 days ago

Thank you

Tabot T
Tabot T16 days ago

Eat more plants!

Janet B
Janet B16 days ago


Janis K
Janis K16 days ago

Thanks for sharing.