A new study with mice suggests that a low protein, high carbohydrate diet offers the same benefits as a 40% caloric restriction diet and which, in turn, improves metabolic health and delays the onset of aging – only safely.
In comparing these dieting approaches, the Academic Director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre in Australia and senior author of the study, Prof. Stephen Simpson says, “We’ve shown that when compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low protein, high carbohydrate diet as a 40% caloric restriction diet. Except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40% caloric reduction in the long term and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido, and fertility.”
In other words, even if a reduction of calories by 30-50% does increase health span, maintaining this level is difficult for most if not all humans.
So, what this study points to is the need for a low protein, high carbohydrate diet rather than one where calorie restriction is the focus and and usually leads to an increase in food intake.
In the study, the mice who followed the low-protein, high carbohydrate diet recorded improvements in insulin levels, cholesterol and blood sugar even though there was an increase in food consumption. However, no extra benefits were derived from following the low protein high carbohydrate.
Having said that, since this study, which was published in Cell Reports, has been purely an observational one, more research will be necessary to find the quality and type of protein and carbohydrates necessary that can impact metabolic health and long-term survival positively.
In addition, researchers aren’t sure whether these benefits work in humans just as they have in mice.