While calorie-restriction diets are known to have positive health benefits, a group of researchers in Australia has found that, in mice, a low-protein high-carbohydrate diet produces similar results regardless of caloric intake.
If the study bears out for humans, it could rehabilitate the image of carbohydrates, which has taken a battering in recent years, when the high-protein Atkins and Paleo diets have reigned supreme.
Scientists at the University of Sydney put mice on varying diets in terms of the proportion of carbohydrates, protein and total calories consumed. They found that, in terms of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, mice on unrestricted low-protein high-carb diets fared best.
"It still holds true that reducing food intake and body weight improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease," said senior author Stephen Simpson of the University of Sydney. "However...it appears that including modest intakes of high-quality protein and plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the diet will be beneficial for health as we age."
The next step, according to the scientists, will be to learn if specific types of proteins and carbohydrates make a difference in long-term health.