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What are pros and cons of a low-carbohydrate diet?

Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
A study out from the Annals of Internal Medicine re-examined the pros and cons of a low carbohydrate diet. There has been considerable controversy regarding the benefits of sustained weight loss with a low carbohydrate diet as well as concern that a low carbohydrate diet (similar to the Atkins Diet) may promote an increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke. The study, which examined over 20,000 patients over a span of 20 years, found that there was a caveat to improving health on a low carbohydrate diet -- eat protein that was primarily vegetable based rather than animal based protein.

After years of research, the study revealed that people who ate low carbohydrates and foods high in protein based on animal protein (primarily meats) were at a higher risk for development of heart disease and stroke. However, they did find a benefit in those people who followed a low carbohydrate diet which was combined with proteins high in fresh vegetables and fruits. In these patients, there was no increase risk of stroke or heart disease.

What can we take from these findings? Some people do lose weight better on a low carbohydrate diet -- especially people who have insulin resistance, diabetes and other medical conditions. For these people, if they do follow a low carbohydrate program, then combining that with a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits can improve your long term health. At the same time, it can help make your weight loss journey more successful in promoting long term health and well-being.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.