When a link popped up in my Twitter feed stating ‘Is the Low-Carb (animal based) Diet a High Coffin Diet? Two More Nails to Consider’ it sparked my interest enough to look a little further.
If you haven’t already worked me out, you need to know I’m not a big fan of fad diets or any diet which is restrictive in nature, unless warranted due to an allergy and intolerance. What is also worthwhile knowing is I love listening to podcasts. Now, the podcasts I listen to focus mainly on nutrition but I also listen to podcasts on training and surfing.
The nutrition podcasts I usually listen to are focused on topics that are considered more controversial or go against standard recommendations. The last few podcasts I have listened to have focused on high protein, low carbohydrate (HPLC) diets. Now, as you can imagine, the people talking on the podcasts have either been advocates of this diet pattern or are interviewing people who promote this way of eating. And with anyone who advocates something, they can have pretty convincing arguments as to why these diets are superior others.
Since I have a science brain and am pretty critical of these types of diet, I am always analysing the discussion. The one characteristic these talks focus on is how HPLC diets help people with health outcomes like losing weight, reducing cholesterol, improving blood sugar levels and reducing diabetes risk. But one of the key points very rarely mentioned is how it compares to other eating patterns, such as moderate to higher carbohydrate diets and that most of the studies are on small sample sizes and of short duration. These are some of the key tenants to good quality research.
So when a link popped up in my Twitter feed stating ‘Is the Low-Carb (animal based) Diet a High Coffin Diet? Two More Nails to Consider’ it sparked my interest enough to look a little further. The premise of the article was based on research which looked at the association between HPLC diets and mortality and the general findings show there is a greater risk of disease development on lower carbohydrate diets. It should be pointed out, the studies were observational, hence why there were associations to dietary patterns, and when there are associations it does not mean causation.
But due to the sheer numbers of subjects in all the studies the association is strong. In total the number of subjects for all the studies topped out at over one million.
Now, I understand why some people would want to go HPLC and I have always felt the premise to most of these diets is for weight loss. And I also understand it may appeal to others since it appears to be easier to follow than other mainstream diets and, for some people who are desperate, may help with improving overall health. But at the same time, when comparing a HPLC diet to a balanced healthy diet which includes foods from all the food groups, the benefits of the eating pattern are negligible.
So rather than fear carbohydrates, we should embrace them not only for the nutrition they provide but also for the enjoyment they bring to eating. What would spaghetti Bolognese be without pasta, where would your pad Thai be without your noodles and isn’t it un-Australia to no longer eat vegemite on toast or have Weet-bix for breakfast? Or how about a juicy mango on a hot summer’s day, potato salad with your barbeque or your four bean mix in your salad or your enchilada?
I’ll leave it up to you, but I can tell you I won’t be giving up my carbohydrates in a hurry. It’s like anything in nutrition: moderation is the key.