Even lean people can benefit from restricting their calories; Reducing your daily calorie intake by around 300 per day can significantly improve markers of cardiometabolic health. This is the main conclusion of a randomized controlled trial that lasted 2 years and included 218 people, between 21 and 50 years old, without obesity.
Thin people can benefit from calorie restriction
Experts explain that some cardiometabolic markers, such as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular death, even when they are within the ranges that Health professionals consider it normal.
On the other hand, numerous studies have suggested that calorie restriction benefits both life expectancy and the length of a person’s life. However, are these benefits due to weight loss?
Researchers began their new study from the hypothesis that it is not only about losing weight, but also another more complex molecular mechanism that explains the benefits of caloric restriction for cardiometabolic health.
How Calorie Restriction Aids Metabolic Health
All trial participants had an average body mass index (BMI) of between 22 and 27.9. To start, the researchers randomly assigned them to one of two groups: One group reduced their caloric intake by 25% (the intervention group), and the other group did not change their caloric intake (the control group).
Participants in the intervention group ate three meals per day and were free to choose between six different meal plans. They also “attended group and individual counseling sessions during the first 6 months of the trial.” The study lasted about two and a half years. During this time, the remaining participants, those in the control group, continued their regular diet.
Not all participants in the intervention group managed to maintain a 25% calorie reduction during the study period, but they did reduce their intake by almost 12%, on average. After the intervention, the participants in this group lost and maintained the loss of 10% of their weight, of which 71% was fat mass. Caloric restriction resulted in significant cardiometabolic benefits.
Specifically, “calorie restriction caused a persistent and significant reduction from baseline to 2 years of all measured conventional cardiometabolic risk factors”. This included changes in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Furthermore, “calorie restriction resulted in a significant improvement in C-reactive protein at 2 years”, This is a marker of inflammation that scientists have linked to heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. Insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome markers also improved.