Researchers found restricting your calorie intake by 12% can reduce cardiometabolic risk factors.1 That means a person that normally ingests 2000 calories a day would need to reduce their caloric intake to 1760 calories a day. That is equivalent to cutting out just half of a plain bagel with cream cheese, a McDonald’s hamburger, or 2 slices of bacon.
Published in the September issue of the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the purpose of the study was to evaluate the short and long-term effects of calorie restriction on cardiometabolic risk factors in healthy, lean, or slightly overweight, young and middle-aged participants.
Researchers enrolled 218 healthy, non-obese adults between the ages of 21 and 50. Participants were assigned (2:1) to one of two groups, a calorie-cutting group asked to reduce their caloric intake by 25% and a control group, who were allowed to eat what they wanted. At baseline, all participants had cardiometabolic measurements within the normal range.
The following markers were measured at baseline and after 2 years:
- Body fat
- Systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure
- Plasma lipids
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein
- Metabolic syndrome score
- Fasting insulin, glucose, insulin resistance, and 2-hour glucose
- Participants in the calorie restricted arm of the study reduced caloric intake by a mean of 11.9%.
- The control group reduced their caloric intake on average 0.8%
- The calorie restricted group lost on average 16.5 pounds versus the control group that gained on average a quarter of a pound.
- After 2 years, the participants in the calorie restricted arm experienced a significant reduction in metabolic risk factors while the control group did not see any significant reductions.
- Calorie restriction resulted in a continuous and significant reduction from baseline to 2 years of all measured conventional cardiometabolic risk factors
- After 2 years, the participants in the calorie restricted arm had smaller waistlines, improved cholesterol levels, reduced high sensitivity C-reactive protein, improved insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure as well as other improvements.
- These results could not be explained by weight loss alone.
Even in healthy individuals, cutting just 300 calories a day can improve a person’s weight and cardiovascular health.
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- William E. Kraus MD, Manjushri Bhapkar MS, Kim M Huffman, MD, Carl F Peiper, DrPH, Sai Krupa Das, PhD, Leanne M Redman, PhD, et. al., “2 years of calorie restriction and cardiometabolic risk (CALERIE): exploratory outcomes of a multicenter, phase 2, randomized controlled trial. July 11, 2019, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/s2213-8587(19)30151-2.