People who want to lose weight often cut back on their calorie consumption to reduce cholesterol and improve the body's insulin activity, but a new study from Australia suggests that having a high carbohydrate and low protein diet can also yield similar benefits.

In a research published in the journal Cell Reports, scientists from the University of Sydney conducted an experiment on laboratory mice to find out the health benefits of a high carb, low protein diet.

They subjected the animals to three eight-week diet programs with varying ratios of protein and carbohydrate content where food was either available or restricted at all times.

Once all three programs were finished, the researchers discovered that when the mice were given a low protein, high carbohydrate (LPHC) diet and food was made available all the time, the animals experienced similar benefits to their health as if they followed a calorie-restriction diet.

Despite an increase in food consumption, several improvements were seen in the mice in terms of their cholesterol, blood sugar levels and insulin.

Mice that were on an LPHC diet ate more when food was available all the time showed a faster rate of metabolism compared to those who were given a calorie-restricted diet. They also did not gain weight throughout the program. LIP mice, however, did not receive any additional benefits from a restriction on calorie consumption.

"We've shown that when compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low protein, high carbohydrate diet as a 40 percent caloric restriction diet," Stephen Simpson, academic director for the Charles Perkins Center, said.

"Except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40% caloric reduction in the long term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido, and fertility."

The findings of the study were able to shed light on the effects of an LPHC diet to the body, but further research is need to discover its long-term benefits to the metabolic health and survivability of an individual. It could also help determine the importance of the type and quality of carbohydrates and proteins to the program.

"An important next step will be to determine exactly how specific amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, contribute to overall health span and lifespan," lead researcher Samantha Solon-Biet said.

Photo: Jennifer | Flickr 

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