Is Low Carb Really Bad For You? Does This Diet Lower Life-Expectancy?
Recently, a study published in The Lancet Public Health Journal implied that low carbohydrate diets, such as keto or forms of paleo, may lower life expectancy by up to 4 years.
Being that these diets are incredibly popular right now for disease prevention, energy, preventing and healing chronic disease, and have a long list of success stories, this study has taken the internet by storm.
I want to address this sudden craze because frankly, I think the hype is unfounded.
First of all, before we move forward, there are definitely ways to do low-carb the wrong way. These diets rely on a higher fat intake, so you need to be consuming health fats. These include coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocados, ghee, flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, meat fat, fish oil, and a few others. They do not include partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and other highly prevalent but inflammatory oils. Just because you're hitting the right percentages to be considered "low carb" does not mean you are healthy. Heck, these highly oxidized, inflammatory vegetable oils which are found in most processed foods, fried foods, and restaurants are a leading cause of inflammation and disease, and also imbalance our omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratios.
That said, this study saying low carb decreases longevity shows several scientific errors that in my opinion render the results invalid for the time being. First of all, the study measured people’s diets by having them remember what they ate regularly over a 2 to 6 year time span, and the study length was 25 years. This means that participants were more-or-less guessing what kind of food they ate up to 6 years prior, and at minimum 2 years prior, when they were periodically interviewed.
Still, while maybe participants had somewhat accurate recollection of their eating habits, one of the biggest flaws with the study is that it did not account for gender differences in all cause mortality. Generally, men are more likely to eat low carb diets than women. Men also display shorter life-expectancy than women. Without accounting for this, the results of this study may have simply shown that men die earlier than women, due to a higher number of male low carb representatives.
Third, many people choose to start low carb diets as solutions for diabetes, obesity, and chronic diseases. This was not accounted for either, and low-carb participants may have had pre-existing conditions that disposed them to earlier deaths which are not specific to the low carb diet.
Finally, the study did not account for the types of food eaten, only the percentages. That said, I feel that most people who start low carb diets do pay attention to food quality, so if they had paid attention, they may have actually had a better position to implicate low carb in shortened life expectancy. However, since they did not, it is worth mentioning that the quality of food eaten by those participating in the study was not considered.
With all of this in mind, It is my personal belief that the benefits of low carb diets: mainly blood sugar regulation, mitochondrial support, and calorie restriction, probably do increase longevity. Observed on their own, dietary and caloric restriction are two of the most highly correlated factors with longevity. I do not think that this study displays a relevant argument, and we will need more research to discover whether there really are negative longevity implications to low carb diets.
Support us on Patreon!
FDA Compliance Statement: The information presented on Keenan Eriksson Fitness has not been reviewed by the FDA or any other medical body and is not intended to cure, treat, or prevent any illness or disease. Consult a doctor before using any of the content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition. Content on this website is for educational purposes only.