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Low carb, high protein diets may be unhealthy in the long term

Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets (an example of such a diet could be the Atkins diet), are popular for weight control. Short-term intervention studies suggest that these diets produce a similar weight loss to traditional high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein diets. However, a large observational study has suggested that low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets may not be healthy in the long run.

Researchers from Greece used data from the multi-centred EPIC trial (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) to investigate relationships between mortality and dietary composition. 22,950 healthy adults aged between 20 – 86 were followed between 1993 and 2003.  Diets were recorded using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

It was found that there was significantly lower mortality risk for those adults with the highest carbohydrate intake, while diets richer in protein were associated with a non-significant higher risk of mortality. For subjects who followed a dietary pattern which combined the highest protein and lowest carbohydrate content within the sample, the risk of mortality increased. The authors suggest that these types of diets may not be a healthy option in the long-term.

For more information, see
Trichopoulou A et al (2007). Low-carbohydrate-high-protein diet and long-term survival in a general population cohort. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 61, pp 575-581.

EUFIC related material:
Nutrition-Protein
Nutrition-Carbohydrates
Health & Lifestyle-Diet & weight control

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