Healthy People Eat This Many Carbs, According to a 15,428-Person Study

Updated 04/24/19

When looking to trim fat and lose weight, many people default to a diet focused on cutting carbs. However, a new study published in the Lancet Public Health suggests that the ever-popular low-carb meal plan may be detrimental to long-term health. Instead, the data suggest the key to a long life is eating carbs in moderation.

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The Modern Proper

The Study

Researchers set out to analyze the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality. To do so, they studied 15,428 adults ages 45 to 64 who participated in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, an ongoing observational study of cardiovascular risk factors. Participants completed a thorough food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the ongoing study and researchers tracked them and their eating habits for over two decades.

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The Results

They found that those who ate a low-carb diet (with less than 40% of energy from carbohydrates) and those who ate a high-carb diet (with more than 70% of energy from carbohydrates) had lower life expectancies than those who ate a moderate amount of carbs (50% to 55% of energy from carbohydrates). This information mirrors data discovered in a large review of existing studies on carb intake which analyzed over 432,000 people altogether, according to Time.

According to the authors of the study, the fact that people who eat low-carb diets tend to replace carbs with animal protein and eat fewer fruits, vegetables, and grains may explain the higher risk of mortality. Additionally, those who eat a diet higher in carbohydrates tend to eat more refined carbs like white rice, which can also be detrimental to long-term health.

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What It Means

The authors concluded that low-carb and high-carb diets tend to have a negative effect on life expectancy while eating carbs in moderation is associated with a longer life. However, if you do prefer to follow a diet that's low in carbohydrates, researchers say that replacing those carbs with plant-based fats and proteins can be healthy in the long run.

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