- Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found low-carb diets — which replace carbohydrates with plant-based protein and fats — were linked to a lower risk of mortality when compared to those that replace carbohydrates with animal-based proteins and fats. The research was published in The Lancet Public Health journal and funded by the National Institutes of Health.
- The study found that both low-carb and high-carb diets were linked to an increase in mortality, while consumers of a moderate level of carbohydrates had the lowest risk. They began the research after previous studies showed the short-term benefits of low-carb diets to aid weight loss and improve cardiometabolic risk but produced conflicting results on the long-term effects.
- Researchers observed more than 15,400 people ages 45 to 64 from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study in the U.S. The dietary patterns they found were compared against studies with 432,000 people in more than 20 countries.
Whether it's the Atkins diet of the 2000s or today's ketogenic diet, high-fat and low-carb eating trends continue to be popular for people looking to lose weight. Those who follow these diets tend to shed pounds when they eat fewer carbohydrates and the body then has to use stored fats for energy.
Because of this ongoing trend, food companies have been introducing products to comply with low-carb diets. Dang Foods recently debuted a "keto friendly" FATBAR, which is high in fat, low in carbs and sweetened with stevia extract. It contains unsaturated fats from cashew butter and saturated fats from cocoa butter. Other related products include keto bars, medium-chain triglyceride oil powders and protein powders. There are even online food delivery services — Factor 75, Ice Age Meals, Keto Fridge and Kettlebell Kitchen — that provide fresh keto-compliant meals. Green Chef offers a special keto-friendly menu, and Thrive Market organizes its private-label keto products online for easy reference.
The results of this new study could impact keto sales. But this isn't the first research to associate adverse health outcomes with low-carb diets. Researchers in Switzerland recently found that low-carb, high-fat keto diets may hike the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, especially when first adopting the eating plan. Additionally, a study from the University of Eastern Finland indicated that a high-protein diet is associated with a slightly higher risk of heart failure in middle-aged men.
Whether or not this research impacts the popularity of low-carb diets isn't clear, but the findings can definitely be called into question. The Boston study is somewhat flawed since it analyzed self-reported data over a 25-year period, meaning it had to rely on participants' memories, plus it only measured diets twice during that time, CNBC reported. The Swiss research only involved mice, although human trials are being planned.
While more research into low-carb diets may need to be done, it seems that a moderate approach to carbohydrates and fats might be the best choice for optimal health. In any case, it's doubtful that fans of high-fat, low-carb diets will be convinced to forego the trend as long as they're getting the desired results.