Assessing low-carb diets

Research has suggested that cutting carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta can help people lose weight, and there are many low-carb diets to choose from, including the Atkins diet and the paleo diet (both emphasizing high protein consumption), and the ketogenic diet (emphasizing high fat consumption). But experts say that if you’re going to cut carbs, it matters what you replace them with.

In a January 2, 2018 article in U.S. News & World Report, Eric Rimm, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted that sticking to a low-carb diet over time can be tough, and that many people may substitute carbs with foods that don’t contribute to an overall healthy diet. For instance, if someone replaces carbs with bacon instead of nuts or avocados, their health may suffer.

The U.S. News article also cited a recent study, on which Rimm and Harvard Chan School’s Walter Willett were co-authors, that suggested  moderate carb consumption may be the healthiest option. The study found that both low-carb diets (less than 40% of daily calories from carbs) and high-carb diets (more than 70% of daily calories from carbs) were linked with higher mortality rates over a 25-year period than diets with moderate amounts of carbs (50-55% of daily calories).

Read the U.S. News & World Report article: What’s in a Low-Carb Diet?

Learn more

Study: For healthiest diet, eat moderate amounts of carbs (Harvard Chan School news)

Carbohydrates (The Nutrition Source)

Diet Reviews (The Nutrition Source)