Posted on Apr 21, 2020, 12 p.m.
According to a study from Duke University published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology cutting calories may help to improve the biomarkers for metabolic syndromes such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as excess body fat around the waist.
Cutting 300 calories per day over a period of 2 years was found to have significantly improved levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and other biomarkers in healthy adults in this randomized controlled trial comparing biomarkers for metabolic syndrome between a group of participants following a normal calorie diet and another group reducing their caloric intake. The reduced group lost on average 16 pounds after cutting their daily intake by about 300 calories.
“There’s something about caloric restriction, some mechanism we don’t yet understand that results in these improvements,” said William Kraus, who is also a cardiologist and a professor of cardiovascular genomics.“We have collected blood, muscle and other samples from these participants and will continue to explore what this metabolic signal or magic molecule might be.”
Participants ate three meals per day cutting about one fourth of their daily calories to train for the new diet, choosing from six different meal plans that accommodated for preferences and needs as well as attending both individual and group counseling session for the first six months, while the control group continued their normal diet and met with the researchers once every six months.
After the six months training period those in the reduced group were asked to eliminate one quarter of their daily caloric intake. Most of the participants were not able to strictly adhere to the diet for the full two years, but the average participant was still able to consume about 12% less. The mild diet helped participants to lose and keep off on average 10% of their body weight of which 71% was pure fat.
Participant eating habits were monitored along with regularly collecting fat and blood samples to analyze for biomarkers related to metabolic syndrome. Two years of calorie restrictions was found to have led to reductions in the risks for heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
“There’s something about caloric restriction, some mechanism we don’t yet understand that results in these improvements,” Kraus said, noting that their discovery may help reduce the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that we have in the United States.“This shows that even a modification that is not as severe as what we used in this study could reduce the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that we have in this country,” Kraus said. “People can do this fairly easily by simply watching their little indiscretions here and there, or maybe reducing the amount of them, like not snacking after dinner.”
Findings suggest and support other studies finding that practicing moderate calorie restriction in young to middle aged healthy individuals has the potential to substantially improve cardiovascular health and “offers promise for pronounced long term population health benefits.”
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