Fans of low-carb eating are hoping for changes in the new U.S. dietary guidelines. They say low-carb’s inclusion could influence what nutrition advice doctors give—and shape government food programs like school lunches. But does low-carb work for everyone?
Limit salt, decrease sugar, cut saturated fats. … There’s plenty of eating advice out there for American consumers. The Bible gives advice too: Our bodies are God’s temple. Because God dwells in us, what we eat is important. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
U.S. health experts say low-carb diets are being reviewed—along with other eating styles—for the 2020 update to the dietary guidelines. The group of health officials from Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had its first meeting last week. They will likely issue a report to help shape the guidelines by next year.
Currently, the guidelines list the Mediterranean, vegetarian, and other diets as examples of healthy eating.
But low-carb supporters say rising obesity rates show that the current guidelines don’t work for everyone. “The main point is to get away from a one-size-fits-all diet,” says Nina Teicholz, who has written about low-carb diets.
Low-carb eaters generally limit foods like bread, pasta, and sugar. Some nutrition experts caution that data for low-carb diets is new. They say it’s unclear what the long-term effects might be.
Low-carb diets can work well for people with epilepsy and type 2 diabetes. But the benefits of low-carb can also be exaggerated. People still have to make sure their overall diet is healthy, says Kevin Hall of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Health policy researcher John Ioannidis says that simplifying the guidelines would be more useful than adding another diet to the recommendations. He says, “If we eat more, that will make us obese. That’s 100% correct.”
(Steaks are part of a low-carb diet. The idea behind eating low-carb is that the body enters a fat-burning state when it runs out of the blood sugar that’s fueled by carbs. But not everyone is convinced it should be added to the dietary guidelines. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)