Low Carb Diets- Good or Bad?
If you didn’t know already, there are numerous studies about the importance of Carbohydrates and the impact of low carb diets on the body. You may have heard people talking about these types of diets before. Typically they fall into two categories:
- Elite athletes that can effectively cycle a period of low carb intake before a competition to ensure they hit a particular weight category.
- And the average gym goer who doesn’t know much about the subject but thinks it’s a good way to lose weight.
As you can see, there is an “informed” and “uininformed” camp. My advice is that if you don’t have your own nutrionist, or extensive knowledge on the subject, generally steer clear of them.
A Short Synopsis of the Study
In case the study has already slipped from your memory, researchers from Harvard examined over 25 years of data from about 15,500 adults from four separate U.S. communities. They then pulled data from seven other studies involving more than 432,000 people in 20 countries.
They found that those who followed a low-carb diet (defined as less than 40% of daily calories) and those who followed a high-carb diet (more than 70% of daily calories) were tied to a higher risk of death than those who did moderate-carbs (50 to 55% of daily calories).
What do Carbs do?
Carbohydrates are a misunderstood substrate of energy, the studies show that if we have too much then it can be problematic for the body. But now if we have too little it can be the same thing? That buzzword of ‘Moderation’ springs to mind. Carbs have many benefits to the ordinary function of the body:
- They supply the brain with the glucose it needs to function properly.
- Supply Glucose to working muscles so that movement is possible
- Can be a source of fibre and other vitamins and minerals
The revelations about high-carb diets being bad for you didn’t surprise anyone, but the news that low carb diets resulted in shorter life spans caused some furrowed brows among athletes because their diet is typically lower in carbohydrates which, according to the carb study, supposedly targets them for an early death.
Why High or Low Carb Diets Can Cause Early Death
It can be simplified greatly. Those that had low card diets were typically skipping the carbohydrates that are considered essential, fruits, vegetables, grains etc.
Conversely, the high carb people had issues because they included alot of refined carbs, things that you know you shouldn’t be eating on a regular basis. This caused what you’d expect. Diabetes, obesity and organ failure. Those guys sitting in the middle with ‘moderation’? Their diets were healthy and as a result kept their blood glucose low. This caused longer life.
A Little Bit of Context
If you’re a sportsperson or anyone remotely interested in looking good, you may be falling into the catergory that would put you at ‘risk’ of carb deficiency. Despite what the Harvard scientists suggest, you’re likely not going to die earlier than your moderate-carb intake cohorts. That’s because you’re not the typical low-carb person described in the study. While you might eat a relatively low-carb diet. You’re presumably relying on high-quality sources with carefully chosen vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.