Restricting Calories Can Be Good for Health Even at a Relatively Low BMI

A new two-year study shows restricting calories has positive effects on your health and wellbeing as well as weight, even if your body mass index is relatively low.

Restricting Calories Can Be Good for Health Even at a Relatively Low BMI

A 25 percent calorie restriction over two years by healthy adults with a body mass index of 22-28 was linked to better health-related quality of life in recent research published by JAMA.

In many studies calorie restriction has been shown to increase longevity in numerous species, but there are concerns about potential negative effects of calorie restriction in humans.

In a randomised clinical trial researchers at Pennington tested the effects of calorie restriction on aspects of quality of life that have previously been speculated to be negatively affected by calorie restriction: decreased libido, lower stamina, depressed mood and irritability.

220 men and women with a body mass index of 22 to 28 took part in the trial and were divided into two groups.

One group was assigned to two years of 25 percent calorie restriction and the other was an ad libitum (their own preference) control group for comparison. This level of calorie restriction would amount to daily calories of around 1500 for women and 1700 for men. 

Self-reported questionnaires were used to measure mood, quality of life, sleep and sexual function.

Data were collected at baseline, a year and two years.

The calorie restriction group lost an average of 16.7 pounds compared with less than a pound in the control group at year two.

According to the authors, the calorie restriction group, compared with the control group, had improved mood, reduced tension and improved general health and sexual drive and relationship at year two, as well as improved sleep at year one.

The bigger weight loss by the calorie restriction participants was associated with increased vigor, less mood disturbance, improved general health and better quality of sleep.

"Calorie restriction among primarily overweight and obese persons has been found to improve QOL [quality of life], sleep and sexual function, and the results of the present study indicate that two years of CR [calorie restriction] is unlikely to negatively affect these factors in healthy adults; rather, CR is likely to provide some improvement," the authors conclude.

WLR Says

Of course we're all for calorie counting around here! This study shows that restricting calories not only helps you lose weight but also improves your mood, energy and health.

Whislt eating less calories can be good for waistline and your health, it's even more important that you make sure that your diet is nutritionally complete and well balanced.

You can count your calories and track nutrition using WLR's free to try UK food database and diary tools.

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