Low carbohydrate diets can slash your life expectancy by up to four years, according to a study.
The research - titled Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis, says the 'long-term effect of carbohydrate restriction on mortality is controversial'.
The study, which took place over 25 years and included dietary data from 15,400 people, suggested that moderate carb consumption - or switching meat for plant-based protein and fats - is healthier.
The study relied on self-reported data from participants, about the food and drink they ate, and quantities. Scientists then worked out the nutritional value of the food - including calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
Researchers found that those with a moderate intake of carbohydrates (accounting for around 50-55 percent of their energy intake) had a slightly lower mortality risk that those with a low or high intake of carbs.
The moderate-carb group were expected to live, on average, for around 83 years - four years longer than the extra-low-carb group ( 30 percent or less of energy from carbs), 2.3 years more than the low-carb group (30-40 percent) and 1.1 years more than the high carb group (65 percent or more).
Research leader Dr. Sara Seidelmann - clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said: "Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight-loss strategy.
"However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged.
"Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term."