A very low-carb diet can boost metabolism, even in older adults: Study

A new study reveals how an eight-week very low-carbohydrate diet can boost metabolic health of older adults with obesity.
good and bad carbs
Cutting out all carbs from your diet can impact health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 17:11 pm IST
  • 109

In a world full of different kinds of diet regimes—then be it Keto, GM or calorie deficit—choosing the right one for yourself can be a confusing task. Contrary to popular belief, a diet doesn’t just help in the process of weight gain or loss; it has a big role to play in boosting your metabolism—which has become all-the-more crucial in this pandemic-riddled world.

So, if you are looking for a diet to follow for better metabolic health, which we suggest you should, take a look at this new study which reveals how an eight-week low-carbohydrate diet can improve body composition, fat distribution, and metabolic health.

Published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, the study was led by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Nutrition Obesity Research Centre.

The researchers observed older adults with obesity, who are at a high risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study’s lead author is ch.D., RDN, an assistant professor with UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences. Goss says that the aim was to determine if a very low-carbohydrate (VLCD) and high-fat diet would deplete fat depots and preserve lean mass without intentional caloric restriction in older adults with obesity, thereby improving outcomes related to cardio-metabolic diseases, such as insulin sensitivity and the lipid profile.

heart attack
Older adults with obesity are at a high risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases : Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“After the eight-week intervention, despite the recommendation to consume a weight-maintaining diet, the group consuming the very low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and total fat mass than the control diet group,” Goss said.

Consuming eggs was an important part of the VLCD prescription. Goss and her team provided eggs to the participants in this diet group and asked them to eat at least three per day.

benefits of eating eggs
Eggs for better heart health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

“While eggs were a part of this study, we can’t conclude that our findings are a result of daily egg consumption; but I think what we can conclude is that whole eggs can be incorporated into the diet in a healthful way without adversely impacting blood cholesterol in older adults,” she said. The major difference in fat loss between the two groups was from the abdominal cavity and the skeletal muscle depots.

“We also found significant improvements in the overall lipid profile that would reflect the decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Goss said. “Further, insulin sensitivity improved in response to the very low-carbohydrate diet reflecting the reduced risk of type-2 diabetes. Overall, we observed improvements in body composition, fat distribution, and metabolic health in response to an eight-week, very low-carbohydrate diet.”

low-carb foods
That low-carb salad seems to be a great option to boost your metabolism.. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The effect of a very-low carbohydrate diet on diabetes
Goss says VLCDs are a therapeutic option for many conditions, including type-2 diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


“This study extends previous research to show that it can be a safe, therapeutic option for older adults in their 70s experiencing obesity,” she said. “This is the first study to demonstrate the depletion of ‘metabolically harmful’ fat depots while preserving skeletal muscle during weight loss in response to a VLCD in older adults.”

Goss adds that there is ample of evidence about the benefits of a very low-carbohydrate diet in younger populations, and this study was one of the first to test this dietary approach to improve outcomes related to obesity in adults older than age 65—a population at particularly high risk of other diseases and in need of therapeutic interventions to improve health while preserving skeletal muscle mass to prevent or delay functional decline with age.

The conundrum of eggs and heart disease 

“Historically, eggs have received a bad rap beginning with the nutrition guidelines on egg consumption set forth by the American Heart Association in 1968,” Goss said. “It was recommended that no more than three whole eggs be consumed each week.”

According to Goss, the concerns rose from the cholesterol and saturated fat content of the egg yolk. Ever since, these recommendations have loosened because more recent research has demonstrated how minimal and negligible is the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol.

low-carb diet and low-fat diet
Egg yolk. To eat or not to eat? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Earlier this month, the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee issued recommendations to increase the consumption of eggs across the lifespan, including pregnant and lactating women, and also as a first food for infants and toddlers.

“This historical first for the Dietary Guidelines Committee recognised eggs as an important, nutrient-rich food source, as eggs are a rich source of protein, choline, B12, selenium, vitamin D and a long list of other nutrients vital to growth and development as well as maintenance of muscle mass,” Goss concluded.

(With inputs from ANI)

  • 109
About the Author

We are a varied group of Health Shots writers, bringing you the healthiest scoop on wellness in town. ...Read More

Healthshots Wellness Newsletter

Get your Daily Dose of Wellness in your Inbox

Subscribe Now
Next Story