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Are low carb diets based on animal protein bad for your health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 27, 2013 at 11:24 PM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989112/ Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: Two cohort Studies

"Abstract Background

Data on the long-term association between low-carbohydrate diets and mortality are sparse.

Objective

To examine the association of low-carbohydrate diets with mortality during 26 years of follow-up in women and 20 years in men.

Design

A prospective cohort study of women and men, followed from 1980 (women) or 1986 (men) until 2006. Low-carbohydrate diets, either animal-based (emphasizing animal sources of fat and protein), or vegetable-based (emphasizing vegetable sources of fat and protein) were computed from multiple validated food frequency questionnaire assessed during follow-up.

Setting

Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals' Follow-up Study

Participants

85,168 women (aged 34-59 years at baseline) and 44,548 men (aged 40-75 years at baseline) without heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Measurement

Investigator documented 12,555 deaths (2,458 cardiovascular, 5,780 cancer) in women and 8,678 deaths (2,746 cardiovascular, 2,960 cancer) in men.

Results

The overall low-carbohydrate score was associated with a modest increase in overall mortality in pooled analysis (Hazard Ratio, HR, comparing extreme deciles=1.12 (95% CI=1.01-1.24, p-trend=0.14). The animal low-carbohydrate score was associated with a higher all-cause mortality (pooled HR comparing extreme deciles=1.23, 95% CI=1.11-1.37, p-trend=0.05), cardiovascular mortality (corresponding HR=1.14, 95% CI=1.01-1.29, p-trend=0.029), and cancer mortality (corresponding HR=1.28, 95% CI 1.02-1.60, p for trend = 0.09). In contrast, a higher vegetable low-carbohydrate score was associated with lower all-cause (HR=0.80, 95% CI=0.75-0.85, p-trend<0.001) and cardiovascular mortality (HR=0.77, 95% CI=0.68-0.87, p-trend<0.001).

Limitations

Diet and lifestyle characteristics were assessed with some degree of error, however, sensitivity analyses indicated that results were not unlikely to be substantially affected by residual or confounding or an unmeasured confounder. In addition, participants were not a representative sample of the U.S. population.

Conclusion

A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates."

"Discussion In our two cohorts of U.S. men and women with up to 20-26 years of follow-up, we observed that the overall low-carbohydrate diet score was only weakly associated with all-cause mortality. However, a higher animal low-carbohydrate diet score was associated with higher all-cause and cancer mortality, while a higher vegetable low-carbohydrate score was associated with lower mortality, particularly CVD mortality."

"In conclusion, consumption of a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet were associated with a lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality whereas a high scores for the animal-based low-carbohydrate diet were associated with a higher risk of overall mortality. These results suggest that the health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet may depend on the type of protein and fat, and that a diet including mostly vegetable sources of protein and fat is preferable to a diet with mostly animal sources of protein and fat."

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 28, 2013
at 01:42 PM

Minger dodges the most obvious bullet by not addressing vegetable protein, which is a major paleo objection. The participants that ate more TSP and gluten did not keel over and die like they were supposed to.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 28, 2013
at 01:31 PM

I dunno foreveryoung, but it's not pointing a finger at vegetable proteins like gluten and soy protein isolates as causes of increased mortality.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on March 28, 2013
at 12:14 AM

Lack of nutrients commonly found in carbs IMO. Where are these low careers getting their magnesium and potassium? Would like to know..

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on March 27, 2013
at 11:27 PM

Is it the protein or the fat?

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1 Answers

2
0b73cdbd0cb68aeeda14dafeebb2f828

on March 28, 2013
at 11:56 AM

This paper was discussed here at PaleoHacks soon after it was published

I'd also recommend you study Denise Minger's analysis of that study

If you still have concerns it's not that difficult to count your daily Potassium intake and then ensure you obtain an adequate daily potassium intake

Stephen R asks from where are we sourcing magnesium and potassium?

Try looking in Nutritional Database for BEEF Lamb/game and nuts and seeds.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 28, 2013
at 01:42 PM

Minger dodges the most obvious bullet by not addressing vegetable protein, which is a major paleo objection. The participants that ate more TSP and gluten did not keel over and die like they were supposed to.

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