Sorting Through the Headlines to Focus on the Facts
If you’ve spent any amount of time recently researching low-carb, high-fat diets or keto diets, you’ve probably seen a few alarming headlines claiming that these diets reduce your life expectancy.
Coming on the tail of some studies and peer-reviewed publications, these headlines haven’t helped explain recent findings all that much. Far from it, in fact; they’ve likely contributed to increased confusion around the best approach to a low-carb or keto diet.
Before we really dive in, though, let’s discuss the Low Fat Low Carb approach.
We focus on providing a solid foundation for any diet you may be following. This often means cutting out unhealthy carbs and fats and replacing them with a variety of healthier options. Usually, this naturally leaves you with a lower amount of carbohydrates and fats in your meal plan.
We are passionate about whole foods and always encourage an increased vegetable intake, all with a healthy balance of macronutrients. Really, we feel this is the basis for all healthy eating. Along the way, you’ll likely lose weight, and adjust your diet based on your needs and lifestyle.
Sound good? Let’s dive in:
Why Are So Many People Saying that Restricting Carbs or Eating Keto Will Shorten My Life?
A lot of the recent headlines are focusing on the findings of a single study funded by the National Institutes of Health from August 2018.
The study included over 15,000 participants in the United States, all between the ages of 45 and 65. Its stated goal was to investigate the association between carb intake and mortality. The study’s findings quickly became prime material for clickbait-y headlines, chief among them an association between low-carb consumption and an increased mortality risk.
Of course, this ignores the fact that the study also found that high-carb consumption (those diets using carbs for 70% or more of their energy) presented an increased mortality risk.
Generally, when you restrict your carb intake, you reach for a different source for those missing calories. In keto diets, as well as low-carb high-fat diets, you end up substituting your carbohydrates with an increase of fat; usually from animal products. Although the may be calorie-dense, they don’t offer as many micronutrients or phytonutrients.
Micro and phytonutrients include much-needed antioxidants that help protect your body against the free radicals that can lead to cancers and other health complications. It should be no surprise, then, that another study found that an increased intake of animal proteins was linked to a 33% increase in the risk of heart failure.
So, yes, low-carb, high-fat diets can pose a greater risk of mortality. But the same is true of high-carb diets! That’s because it’s not necessarily the amount of fat or carbohydrates that matter, but rather the quality and composition of a diet. For instance, high-carb diets often include plenty of packaged, processed foods that lack good nutrient content. They might even contain more sugar, increasing the risk of Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Should I Bother with a Keto or Low-Carb/High-Fat Diet?
That’s the big question, isn’t it?
The answer really depends on your individual circumstances and needs. For instance, sometimes people need to use a certain diet or protocol to help achieve their weight loss goals. Others might be training for an aesthetics fitness show and need to hit a certain weight by a certain time. A more extreme diet, like keto, might be a solution in these cases.
For most people, though, the goal is to feel lighter, healthier and more energetic. In these cases, you might only have to make a few small changes to your existing diet and eating habits to see some remarkable changes.
It’s important to remember that keto diets and other extreme protocols can be used to help you hit a target weight. They’re not intended as long-term solutions, but rather methods to help you reach a goal before you adjust your diet to maintain your weight and health.
Is it Dangerous to Follow Keto or Low-Carb/High-Fat Diets?
This is a question best suited to your doctor or physician. Currently, there are not enough significant long-term studies to prove or dispel the efficacy of this as a lifestyle.
You are unique! Your body, physiology, and biochemistry will react differently to a diet than someone else’s might. Your history, habits, and goals also play into how sustainable a lifestyle change can be for you.
The Big Picture
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the faster you see results from a diet, the easier it is to wind up regaining the weight you lost.
That’s why it’s important to avoid a “quick-fix” mindset. After all, if you’re not addressing the issues that put you in this position in the first place, you’re sabotaging yourself from the get-go. Address your eating habits first and make small changes incrementally. Odds are, your current state of health didn’t happen overnight. You are most likely dealing with years of habits and patterns. This means it will most likely take years to transform into the future you that you desire.
What is your goal? Do you need extreme results from your diet? Or are you better off taking a slower, gradual path that you can maintain easily in the long-term?
Remember, creating healthy habits takes time… but it pays off!
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