Editorial: Women who regularly follow a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet face increased risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a prospective, observational study in BMJ.
Some 43,000 Swedish women, aged 30 to 49 and without previous cardiovascular disease, completed questionnaires that assessed their habitual dietary patterns. During roughly 16 years’ follow-up, 1270 cardiovascular events occurred.
After adjustment for confounders such as BMI (calculate your body mass index here), smoking status, physical activity, and saturated fat intake, the risk for cardiovascular events increased significantly as carbohydrate intake decreased and protein intake increased. In particular, for each 2-unit increase in a low-carb, high-protein score (on a scale of 2 to 20), women had a 5% increase in cardiovascular risk.
Editorialists conclude: “The short term benefits of low carbohydrate-high protein diets for weight loss that have made these diets appealing seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the long term.”
My additions: My experience and long-time review of the literature on this topic lead me to agree. While a short-term (3-month) high protein low carb diet can give you a quick jump start in weight loss, in studies comparing Atkins, Weight Watchers, the Zone, and the Ornish diet, weight loss and maintenance is comparable after 6 and 12 months (and now at 2-5 years). Of note: those on Atkins fall off well before the 1-year mark – it’s just too challenging for most subjects. And why, honey, put yourself at risk for nothing?
The eating plan that’s BEST for you is one that you’ll stick to regardless of composition – and one that offers a balanced and wide variety of multi-colored foods sans processed foods is proven best for disease prevention / recurrence, vitality and athletic performance.