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Study of 40,000 women finds low carb, high protein diet harmful

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  • Study of 40,000 women finds low carb, high protein diet harmful

    I came across this on an article from The Guardian newspaper, titled "What Doctors won't do themselves." One of the items was eat a low-carb, high-protein diet. An excerpt follows:

    "I would never go on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet like Atkins, Dukan or Cambridge. Why? Because although you will probably lose weight, they may kill you. Don't take my word for it – read about the 43,396 Swedish women followed for an average of 15 years. Those who stuck to low carbs and high protein had a rising risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes, depending on how strict they were and for how long they endured them. There was a staggering 62% higher risk of such illnesses among the women eating the strictest diet over those who ate normally. Eating is for enjoyment; these diets turn food into medication, and it's patently the wrong medicine – it is often lethal."
    Tom Smith, GP

    Here is the link to the study:

    Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and incidence of cardiovascular diseases in Swedish women: prospective cohort study | BMJ

    I read through it and it seems like a well done study with reasonable definitions for low-carb and high-protein. What do you guys think?

  • #2
    I think this says a lot:

    "Conclusions Low carbohydrate-high protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease."

    empahsis mine.

    Iif people are still eating grains, sugar, processed crap, like you can on Atkins (was primal/paleo even heard of 15 years ago? I don't know, but I'd not heard of untill a couple of years ago at most), it's not the same as eating a ton of veggies and real meat from animals that moo and baaa and cluck, and the odd thing that oinks. But I've not read the whole thing yet. No metion of fat intake either - I think you have to look at that too, as if you eat a mass of protien instead of carbs you just make meat sugar in your tummy (that is the real medical terminology for it BTW)

    That's my initail thoughts anyway.

    TBH I'm getting to the point where I just ignore the latest bash at 'Caveman eating' you can get reseach to show what ever the hell the pay master wants it to say (Warning Conspiricy mad hippy speaking) untill I see something that actually follows people following primal/paleo long term, not people using low carb to periodically lose weight, then gain it again by eating cookies and doughnuts, then go low carb again. At the end of the day I'm at the lowest body fat % I have been in my adult life, have more lean mass than ever, I'm fitter and stonger than I've ever been and feel better than I did when I was 18. That's my N=1 and it's gonna take a lot to shift me from that.
    Last edited by Tribal Rob; 01-24-2013, 02:10 AM.
    You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Tribal Rob View Post
      I think this says a lot:

      "Conclusions Low carbohydrate-high protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease."

      empahsis mine.

      Iif people are still eating grains, sugar, processed crap, like you can on Atkins (was primal/paleo even heard of 15 years ago? I don't know, but I'd not heard of untill a couple of years ago at most), it's not the same as eating a ton of veggies and real meat from animals that moo and baaa and cluck, and the odd thing that oinks.
      Imagine, that could mean that some of them were even eating a high protein diet with the majority of protein from soy. I've seen it done, and yuck!
      "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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      • #4
        Yeah, I have a friend who is veggie and primal and dosn't like eggs - WTF
        You know all those pictures of Adam and Eve where they have belly button? Think about it..................... take as long as you need........................

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tribal Rob View Post
          Yeah, I have a friend who is veggie and primal and dosn't like eggs - WTF
          If you're eating THAaT much soy, I'm not sure you could call yourself primal in any respect.
          "The cling and a clang is the metal in my head when I walk. I hear a sort of, this tinging noise - cling clang. The cling clang. So many things happen while walking. The metal in my head clangs and clings as I walk - freaks my balance out. So the natural thought is just clogged up. Totally clogged up. So we need to unplug these dams, and make the the natural flow... It sort of freaks me out. We need to unplug the dams. You cannot stop the natural flow of thought with a cling and a clang..."

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          • #6
            The study relied on self-reporting of eating habits by participants, and Dr. Michael Eades has repeatedly emphasized that such studies are inherently flawed, as most people will report what they 'should' be eating rather than what they actually are eating.

            I only skimmed it, but I could not find what they considered 'low carb' OR 'high protein.' Nor do they identify the nutrients involved. This makes there conclusions meaningless, IMO.

            Finally, I eat very low carb, but I simply eat to my protein requirements. Their assumption that low carb = high protein is inherently flawed.

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            • #7
              Too much protein can be bad for your health and when people go on these diets they really go crazy with the protein. Plus, as mentioned, are still eating other toxins like seed oils or low-carb processed foods. So, I agree this study means nothing.

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              • #8
                The Atkins diet was complete re-written a few years ago and is now totally different to the original, demented (IMO) version. Basically it's now low carb, moderate protein for the initial phase and then low-moderate carb (depending on activity) and moderate protein for maintenance. Which is not so different to a lot of the advice given on this site.

                I don't think anyone who has really thought about what they were doing (rather than just following the latest dieting trend) would consider low carb/high protein sensible, primarily because the high protein would kick you out of ketosis which for me is the entire point of going low carb (and even then, only periodically not indefinitely).

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                • #9
                  This is Table 2 which shows the macros for what the women ate. (I posted only the AVERAGE, full stats are in the article.)

                  Table 2
                   Daily dietary intakes of 43 396 women in Swedish Women’s Lifestyle and Health Cohort

                  Energy: 6534 kcal
                  Carbohydrates: 196.6 g
                  Protein: 62.9 g
                   Animal: 42.3g
                   Vegetable: 20.6 g
                  Total lipids: 54.7 g
                   Saturated lipids: 24.7 g
                   Unsaturated lipids: 25.8 g

                  Calories are wrong. They add up to about ~1550.

                  In the context of PB, I see three problems in the macros:
                  1. Fully 1/3 of the protein is veggie; probably soy. That will affect cardio health as much as carbs.
                  2. Half of the fat is unsaturated. What was it... margerine?
                  3. When your average carbs are ~200, then you're already endangering cardio health. Plus or minus 10% isn't going to matter.

                  My theory is that this study is just fluctuations in CW and therefore isn't all that meaningful.
                  5'0" female, 45 years old. Started Primal October 31, 2011, at a skinny fat 111.5 lbs. Low weight: 99.5 lb on a fast. Gained back to 115(!) on SAD chocolate, potato chips, and stress. Currently 111.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by emmie View Post
                    The study relied on self-reporting of eating habits by participants, and Dr. Michael Eades has repeatedly emphasized that such studies are inherently flawed, as most people will report what they 'should' be eating rather than what they actually are eating.
                    There is this and other confounding factors....you should give this a read:

                    Always Be Skeptical Of Nutrition Headlines: Or, What “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality” (Pan et.al.) Really Tells Us - GNOLLS.ORG

                    I think he walks people through the basics of dissecting studies very well in this piece.

                    So right off the bat this is an observational study, not an experimental trial. You know something else? Most observational studies just provide a data pool. Then statisticians can go in and find what they want. And that an important thing to note. Usually your looking for something to prove. In fact the Nurses Health Study of around 44,000 has been used as ammunition both for AND against low carb with the same data pool. Funny how that works eh?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tribal Rob View Post

                      TBH I'm getting to the point where I just ignore the latest bash at 'Caveman eating' you can get reseach to show what ever the hell the pay master wants it to say (Warning Conspiricy mad hippy speaking)
                      True that. Its not widely known, but sometimes when 'scientists' conduct 'experiments' or 'studies' they do say, 20 tests or whatever, and the results of 19 were random or inconclusive, but 1 result had a sort of biased result, so they publish that one, and the other 19 sets of test results get thrown in a drawer somewhere.
                      Last edited by Deegie; 01-24-2013, 07:28 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Not even for a second I would believe that 43,396 people consistently ate a diet of low carb and high protein for an average of 15 years.
                        Low-carb, high protein doesn't really specify anything. As mentioned, they could have been eating whatever.
                        And this is why I never pay attention to "studies".

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                        • #13
                          These studies always make me pause but

                          If there was no control for where the carbs came from and no thought to fat intake then I am not that concerned. eating lower healthy, non-grain, carbs, moderate protein and higher fat is the way to go. If they were eating low carb but it was wheat and soy and high protein and low fat, then that is not what most of us do.

                          I am always second guessing myself but Paleo seems to work for me.
                          An optimist is someone who falls off the Empire State Building, and after 50 floors says, 'So far so good!'
                          -Somebody funny

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                          • #14
                            I believe that's the study Denis Minger wrote about here. Nutritional epidemiology is absolutely the weakest form of evidence to base recommendations for diet because the data is so unreliable. I don't even remember what I ate five days ago, so it would be impossible to give an accurate representation of my usual eating patterns over the course of a year or more. Even if I felt like filling out the survey honestly.

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                            • #15
                              Normally they lump in processed meat in the category "protein" and "meat" and processed meat is bad for you. Also, 196 g of carbs a day is not a low carbohydrate diet.
                              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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