Calorie restriction studies in animals have been conducted for many years, and they confirm that eating fewer calories, and thus losing weight, even if starting at a normal healthy weight, improves health markers. And now this has been replicated in adults.

Eating well to stay lean

Man Eating Salad

Who doesn’t want to live a long healthy life - we all do! And the multi-billion dollar supplement industry is a good indicator that people are seeking the answers for a long life without chronic disease. Chances are that adding a supplement won’t have life-extending qualities, but Tufts University researchers have conducted an interesting two-year study in humans that suggests another means of reducing chronic disease risk and living a long healthy life.

In this particular study of 220 normal weight adults, a control group continued to eat enough calories to maintain their weight. The other participants reduced their total calorie intake by 25 percent to achieve weight loss. Throughout the study, the calories had to be adjusted three times for folks to continue to lose weight.

Inflammation markers in the body were assessed at year one and year two. In those who had a 25 percent calorie reduction with weight loss, there were reduced inflammation markers in the blood.

Why bother to check inflammation markers? These have been good indicators of chronic disease risk including risk for developing heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers.

Calorie restriction studies in animals have been conducted for many years, and they confirm that eating fewer calories, and thus losing weight, even if starting at a normal healthy weight, improves health markers. And now this has been replicated in adults.

A 25 percent reduction in calories means that for a person who requires 2,000 calories to maintain their weight, they would now be eating just 1,500 calories, and there certainly would be weight loss. The benefit to reduced inflammation markers was stronger at two years than at one year. The longer this goes on, the better. In other words, maintaining a weight loss is to your health advantage. 

Making dietary changes that you can live with is a good approach vs. following some very restrictive diets that would be impossible to maintain. The key pieces to staying lean:

  • Eat well with a plant focus
  • Three moderate-sized meals daily
  • Very few processed foods
  • Drink water, water, water
  • Walk daily

All good principles to live by.

Reipces to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.