Nutritionists Say Sarah Palin's Likely New Diet Could Lead to Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer

Several nutritionist says Sarah Palin's likely low-carb, high-protein diet may not be the healthiest.

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Sarah Palin posted this photo on her Facebook account Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, of her and her daughter Bristol on the set of "Dancing With The Stars."
Sarah Palin posted this photo on her Facebook account Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, of her and her daughter Bristol on the set of "Dancing With The Stars."

Sarah Palin responded to criticism of her very thin appearance in new photos online this week by telling People magazine that she was working on a fitness book. "Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods!" she told the celebrity magazine in an E-mail. "We promise you what we do works and allows a fulfilling quality of life and sustenance anyone can enjoy."

But several prominent nutritionists says Palin's diet might not be so healthy.

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Gabrielle Shaughness, a nutritionist based both in New York and Washington, tells Whispers that the likely new diet of the 2008 Republican party vice presidential nominee could lead to a number of life-threatening diseases.

Though Palin, who is 48, has not released the details of her new diet, she has previously spoken out a number of times in support of low-carb, high-protein diets. In 2008, she told the Wall Street Journal that she and her family ate a diet "heavy in wild Alaskan seafood, moose, caribou and fresh fruit." Throughout her campaign, the former Alaska governor professed a love of moose cheese dogs and moose chili.

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Shaughness says she does not promote low-carb, high-protein diets to her clients because of their health risks. "High animal protein diets are high in saturated fat and cholesterol," she says. "They are damaging to the arteries, and can cause diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease."

Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes plant-based diets, tells Whispers she is "very comfortable saying" that a low-carb, high-protein diet is "a bad idea."

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"Low-carb, high-protein diets are lacking in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants," she says. "You can lose weight adopting this, but it's difficult to sustain because you don't feel very good."

A study published in the British Medical Journal in July found that low-carb, high-protein diets were popular with women trying to achieve weight loss, but that the diets came with an increased risk of heart disease. A study published in the Nutrition Journal on low-carb diets in June came up with similar results.

"You may be skinny but the inside of your body will not be in great shape," Shaughness says. "At what cost is looking good?"

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.