The researchers behind the study also notes that weight loss alone isn’t responsible for the health benefits; rather, eating fewer calories triggers a complex change in your metabolism that provides several health benefits.
Findings from the study, which was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, revealed that cutting up to 300 calories a day can help improve your blood glucose levels and lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, reducing calorie intake was associated with improvements in blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and other health markers.
Previous research has shown that healthy weight management improves a person’s overall well-being. In this study, however, the researchers wanted to determine if a more complex change in metabolism triggered by the consumption of fewer calories also contributes to the health improvements.
For the study, the scientists observed 218 adults under the age of 50 with healthy BMI levels. These participants were assigned at random to either a control group, which was asked to follow their normal diet, or a calorie restriction group, which was asked to reduce their daily calorie intake by 25 percent.
Those in the calorie restriction group were also given all three of their daily meals for one month as they were taught the basics of cutting calories.
During the two-year study, the volunteers in the calorie restriction group were limited to six different meal plans that matched their cultural preferences or dietary requirements. The volunteers also took part in group and individual counseling within the first six months of the trial.
Even though they were told to restrict calories by 25 percent, the average reduction among the calorie restriction group after the two-year study was only around 12 percent or 300 calories. This group sustained a 10 percent weight loss, with 71 percent of the lost weight corresponding to body fat.
The scientists also observed improvements in markers for cancer, cognitive decline, metabolic disease and heart disease in those from the calorie reduction group.
Lead author Dr. William E. Kraus, a cardiologist at the Duke University Health System, noted that this proves that even this small reduction of 300 calories a day in your diet can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, while also offering other health benefits.
Kraus added that addressing bad eating habits, like snacking after dinner, can help people reduce the number of calories they consume each day. (Related: Snacks with health benefits that support your weight loss goals.)
The researchers are now working to understand the unknown mechanisms behind the health benefits of calorie restriction. By analyzing blood, muscle and other biological samples they’d collected from the volunteers, they hope to identify the relevant metabolic signals or crucial molecules that are responsible for these benefits.
Below are some helpful tips that you can try to improve your eating habits and reduce the calories you consume.
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