Healthy meal plans include not too many and not too few carbohydrates. The Keto and Paleo diets both advise decreasing your intake of carbohydrates. A new study investigated whether eating an extreme amount of carbohydrates or drastically decreasing your carb intake is healthy in the long run.

Healthy Meal Plans for a Longer Life Include 50-55% Carbs


A new study suggests that a low-carb or high-carb diet raises your risk of death. People eating the food staple in moderation see the greatest benefits to their health.

Less than 40% or more than 70% of your calories coming from carbohydrates was associated with the greatest risk of mortality. Eating moderate levels between that range offered the best options for a healthy lifespan.

A recently published study found the lowest risk of an early death when carbs made up 50-55% of a person’s diet.


Study Shows That Healthy Meal Plans Include a Moderate Amount of Carbs

• The team studied more than 15,000 people aged between 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds across four regions of the United States.

• They then calculated average caloric intake and the proportion of calories coming from different food groups based on questionnaires the participants completed outlining the types of food and drink they consumed, portion sizes and how often they ate.

• They were then followed up for a median of 25 years, during which time, 6,283 people died.

• This research revealed that the lowest risk of an early death was seen where carbs made up 50-55% of a person’s diet.


In addition to finding that getting ½ of your calories should come from carbohydrates, the study made an additional finding. It found that healthy meal plans should replace carbs with plant-based rather than meat-based foods.

People on low-carb diets who replaced their carbohydrates with protein and fats from animals, such as with beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese, had a greater risk of mortality than those whose protein and fats came from plant sources, such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Healthy Meal Plans Can Extend Your Life

Healthy meal plans that contain about ½ of your food intake from carbs can actually extend your life.

In addition to the finding an optimal range associated with a lower risk of early death, the team also calculated how many extra years a moderate-carb diet could provide at certain ages.

From age 50, the average life expectancy was an extra 33 years for people who ate carbs in moderation. This was four years longer than those on a low-carb diet (29 years) and one year longer than those on a high-carb diet (32 years).

The results were also combined with seven other studies on carbohydrate intake among people in North American, European and Asian countries, which revealed similar trends in life expectancy.

Comments from Study Author about Healthy Meal Plans

Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the research makes these observations:

• We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection. She warned about the widespread popularity of low-carb diets as a weight loss technique, with people giving up foods such as bread, pasta and potatoes.

• Although previous studies have shown such diets can be beneficial for short-term weight loss and lower heart risk, the longer-term impact is proving to have more negative consequences.

• Our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged.

• A really important message from this study is that it is not enough to focus on the nutrients, but whether they are derived from animal or plant sources.

• When carbohydrate intake is reduced in the diet, there are benefits when this is replaced with plant-origin fat and protein food sources but not when replaced with animal-origin sources such as meats.

Click here to read the full study about healthy meal plans and carbohydrates.