Contrary to popular belief, restrictive diets like keto can have a negative impact on your health and even shorten your life span, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet. The study revealed that people who obtained less than 40 percent or more than 70 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates were more likely to die sooner than people who consumed a percentage in between.
The key, researchers found, is balance. The study tracked the diets of almost half a million people – 15,400 adults in the US and 432,000 people in more than twenty countries around the world. The data was compared to individual life spans.
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The research determined that diets like keto, which source 5 to 10 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 70 to 75 percent from fat and 20 percent from protein, do not adhere to the ideal limits determined by study. Other diets, such as high-fat, low-carb diets like paleo, Atkins, Dukan, and Whole30, were also criticized for forcing your body to use its fat stores for energy rather than burning carbohydrates.
This isn't the first time long-term, low-carb diets have been associated with a higher mortality rate. Another study, which tracked the diets of 25,000 people, was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress last summer and came to the same conclusion.
Studies have also shown that restrictive diets can trigger overeating, result in social withdrawal, deprive your body of vital nutrients, and lead to unhealthy eating habits. In addition, the keto diet was ranked at number 38 in the U.S. News & World Report's 2019 list of the best and the worst diets.
The study authors found that a diet "rich in plant-based whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts is associated with healthy aging," said lead researcher Sara Seidelmann, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist and nutrition researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. This diet, which is traditionally referred to as the Mediterranean diet, topped the U.S. News & World Report ranking this year.
Fundamentally, the study shows that eating a well-balanced, healthy diet will increase your life span, yet most people who exercise balance and moderation in their diet are essentially just using common sense.