Reducing just 300 calories a day boosts metabolic health

All it takes to reduce biomarkers of metabolic syndromes such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, is to cut the caloric equivalent of a bagel, or a slice of cheese pizza from your daily diet.

Researchers at Duke University in the US compared the biomarkers for metabolic syndrome between a group with a controlled normal calorie diet and a group of 143 study participants who agreed to reduce their daily caloric intake. Over the course of the two-year study, the reduced-calorie group cut their intake by an average of about 12 percent, roughly 300 calories. They lost an average of 7 kilos (mostly fat) in the process.

These findings suggest the potential for a substantial advantage for cardiovascular health of practicing moderate calorie restriction in young and middle-aged healthy individuals, and they offer promise for pronounced long-term population health benefits.

The researchers said that while there is a half-century’s worth of animal studies linking caloric reduction to improvements in health, this is the first long-term study conducted with people.

The question the researchers set out to answer is whether caloric reduction extended life span or health span — the period between birth and when people develop diseases. In all organisms, caloric restriction seems to affect both, while exercise affects health span but not life span.”

The study focused on general caloric restrictions rather than reducing the intake of specific micronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, or fat. The researchers looked specifically at biomarkers for health span, specifically those for metabolic syndrome.

Caloric restriction were found to improve the biomarkers dramatically early, and maintained improvements in all five of the parameters studied. The fact that the study group was comprised of young people of normal or slightly above normal weight with normal biomarkers for metabolic syndrome made the results even more significant..

Clearly caloric restriction is going to reduce risk of obesity and diabetes among those at greater risk, but it also may actually impact individuals who have minimal risk, so it has a broad application over a wide population potentially.”

Dietary guidelines state that the average adult woman should consume between 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day while adult men should consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Ideal caloric intake varies by age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity.

An analysis by the Pew Research Center shows that the average daily caloric intake for Americans rose 23 percent from 1970 to 2010.mIn 2010, the average American consumed 2,481 calories a day, according to the research. It is important to note that in our diet-obsessed culture, ‘calorie restricted diets’ are often seen as anything lower than 1,600 calories, sometimes as low as 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day, To suggest health benefits from reducing one’s caloric intake by 300 calories, all factors of the person’s lifestyle must be taken into account.

Many nutritionists and dietitians warn people about the dangers of ‘dieting’ as the self-denial set people up for failure. Instead, experts recommend that people make healthier food choices by adding more minimally processed, nutrient-dense, plant-based foods such as fresh produce, nuts, seeds, and legumes.