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Going Low-Carb? Avoid Meat to Keep the Weight Off Long-Term

THURSDAY, Dec. 28, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- New research offers yet more evidence that veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy products are good for you in the long run.

"Our study goes beyond the simple question of, 'To carb or not to carb?'" said lead study author Binkai Liu, a research assistant in the nutrition department at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

"It dissects the low-carbohydrate diet and provides a nuanced look at how the composition of these diets can affect health over years, not just weeks or months," Liu explained in a Harvard news release.

The key takeaway: Not all low-carb diets are the same when it comes to managing weight over the long haul.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 123,000 healthy adults who were part of major research studies between 1986 and 2018. 

Participants reported on their diets and weights every four years, and they were scored based on adherence to five types of low-carb diet. They included ones based on animal proteins, plant-based proteins and ones that emphasized animal proteins, unhealthy fats and processed grains.

Low-carb regimens high in proteins, fats and carbs from healthy, plant-based sources were linked to slower long-term weight gain.

Participants who stuck with total low-carb or animal-based eating regimens gained more weight, on average, than those who followed a healthy low-carb eating plan over time.

These links were strongest for participants who were overweight or obese, younger than 55 and/or less physical active, the study found.

The findings were published Dec. 27 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

"Our findings could shake up the way we think about popular low-carbohydrate diets and suggest that public health initiatives should continue to promote dietary patterns that emphasize healthful foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products," said senior study author Dr. Qi Sun, an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about low-carb diets.

SOURCE: Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, news release, Dec. 27, 2023

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