#DoesItWorkSummary: Dietary Carbohydrates and Mortality

By Atanas G. Atanasov

Background: This #DoesItWorkSummary is based on the findings of a meta‐analysis of prospective studies published in The Lancet journal in September 2018 [1]. Low carbohydrate diets associated with higher intake of protein and fat are highly popular since they are effective in inducing short-term weight loss [2]. However, the long-term health effects of dietary substitution of carbohydrates with protein and fats are not well studied. Meta‐analysis of prospective studies was performed to analyze the effect of dietary carbohydrates (as percentage of the total diet) on mortality.

#DoesItWorkSummary: Dietary Carbohydrates and Mortality

 Findings:Analyzed were 8 studies involving 432 179 people [1]. Overall, both high and low percentage of dietary carbohydrates was associated with shorter life. Maximal longevity expectations had the people that consumed moderate amounts of carbohydrates, with 50–55% of the dietary energy coming from carbohydrates. However, in the group of people on low-carbohydrate diet there was a difference depending on if carbohydrates were substituted with higher intake of animal-derived or plant-derived protein and fat. Low carbohydrate diet in combination with more animal-derived protein and fat enriched foods (for example pork, lamb, beef, and chicken) was linked with higher mortality, but in combination with more plant-derived protein and fat enriched foods (for example vegetables, peanut butter, nuts, whole-grain breads) there was lower mortality.


1          Seidelmann, S.B., Claggett, B., Cheng, S., Henglin, M., Shah, A., Steffen, L.M., Folsom, A.R., Rimm, E.B., Willett, W.C. and Solomon, S.D. (2018) Dietary Carbohydrate Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study and Meta-Analysis. The Lancet. Public health, Elsevier, 3, e419–e428. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30135-X.

2          Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y.,Shahar, D.R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., Golan, R., Fraser, D., Bolotin, A.,Vardi, H., Tangi-Rozental, O., Zuk-Ramot, R., Sarusi, B., Brickner, D.,Schwartz, Z., Sheiner, E., Marko, R., Katorza, E., Thiery, J., Fiedler, G.M.,Blüher, M., Stumvoll, M., Stampfer, M.J. and Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT) Group. (2008) Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate,Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359,229–241. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681.

Keywords: DoesItWorkSummary, dietary carbohydrates, mortality,
animal-derived or plant-derived protein and fat,  longevity expectations,  diet, health effects, weight loss, higher intake of protein and fat.

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