This is another unfortunate piece of advice, often aimed at people interested in losing weight or preventing type 2 diabetes. Low-carb diets usually emphasize increased protein. Ironically, studies show that in the long run, diets higher in protein actually promote unhealthy weight gain and type 2 diabetes! Moreover, low-carb, high-protein diets increase the risk of heart disease and early death.
In my experience directing a weight management program, I’ve seen overweight people shed unwanted pounds when they focus on plant-based foods, which are naturally high in fiber and carbs. Indeed, studies show that plant-based eaters have the healthiest body weights compared to other eating patterns, whereas omnivores are the most likely to be overweight.
The communities around the world where people tend to live the longest — the so-called “Blue Zones” — eat high-carb diets. And large-scale, scientifically rigorous studies confirm that people eating diets high in carbohydrates tend to have the lowest rates of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
But it’s important to know that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Refined, highly processed grains (like white bread, pastries, crackers, and many commercial cereals) can raise triglycerides, promote weight gain, drive up blood sugar, and increase the risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, starches from whole grains (wild or brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta, or barley, for example) offer fiber, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and protein, and they are an excellent source of energy. Quinoa, legumes, starchy vegetables, and fruits are other healthy carbohydrate sources.