The amount of research on low-carbohydrate diets have skyrocketed the last couple of years; mostly due to the increased popularity of carbohydrate restriction and the “overwhelming” amounts of anecdotal reports from people following these types of diets. Individuals who adhere to a low-carbohydrate eating style usually get most of their calories from fat, and skeptics often argue that the increased consumption of meat and saturated fat will “clog the arteries” and increase the risk of disease. However, a new meta-analysis, a systematic review of studies, found that low-carbohydrate diets lead to weight loss and improved health.
A low-carbohydrate diet usually involves reduced consumption of grains, legumes, rice, certain dairy products, and sometimes fruits and root vegetables. Fat becomes the main source of energy, and avocado, coconut products, oils, full-fat dairy, meat, fish, fowl, eggs, olives etc., are common food staples.
The exact amount of carbohydrates in different types of “low-carbohydrate” diets usually range from 0-100 grams.
The systematic review of low-carbohydrate diets used 23 reports that met the criteria of the analysis; which included 17 clinical investigations and a total of 1,141 obese patients. Low carbohydrate diets were found to be associated with significant decreases in body weight, blood pressure, insulin levels, and plasma C-reactive protein. In general, low-carbohydrate diets were found to improve all cardiovascular risk factors.
The link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease has long been considered an established connection by many medical professionals. However, several recent comprehensive reviews conclude that low-carbohydrate diets don’t increase the risk of chronic disease.
This doesn’t mean that a low-carbohydrate diet is necessarily the optimal diet
The benefits of these systematic reviews are that they look at several reports, rather than just presenting the data from one study. This way it’s possible to get a larger picture and draw more accurate conclusions. However, this meta-analysis gives little information about the effects of low carbohydrate diets compared to other popular diets, the exact amount of carbohydrate necessary to achieve good results, and which foods to choose.
Studies show that humans can maintain excellent health when eating a high-carbohydrate diet based on fruits, berries, nuts and root tubers and other vegetables, and the primary benefit of a low-carbohydrate could be the reduced intake of processed and refined foods.
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