If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve probably heard the term “low carb.” The Atkins, Keto, and Paleo diets all have different names but have one major thing in common: they dictate that people should avoid carbs and eat a whole lotta meat.
A recent study, however, sheds some doubt about how healthy these low-carb diets really are. The analysis, published in The Lancet, found that people who eat a moderate amount of carbs actually live longer than those who avoid carbohydrates.
Over 15,000 people participated in the study. Researchers found that people with the longest lifespans receive about 50-55% of their calories from carbs, while those who got 30% or less from carbs live an average of four fewer years. Interestingly, the study also found that people who receive 70% or more of their calories from carbs died one year earlier on average than the 50-55% crowd. When people avoided carbs in favor of meat, their chances of an earlier death rose, but if they shied away from carbs in favor of foods with plant-based fats and proteins, such as veggies, nuts, and beans, their life expectancy went up.
Bottom line: eating a plant-based diet can help lower your blood pressure and the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer. Fad diets (like the low-carb/extra meat) may help you lose weight in the short term, but the long-term results may not be so healthy.