Cutting Calories May Slow Aging

Most of us only restrict calories if we are trying to lose weight. However, two new studies have found another reason to cut calories from your diet. Reducing your calories may decrease biological age and offer other health benefits.

Your chronological age is how long it’s been since you were born. Biological age measures health biomarkers, genes and how your body reacts to environmental factors.  

According to a Columbia Univ.’s Mailman School of Public Health study, following a calorie-restricted diet for two years with 12 percent fewer calories reduced biological aging and several cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. The researchers looked at metabolic problems, insulin sensitivity, heart and kidney health and inflammation. They based their findings on data from the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) study.

A study from Penn State College of Health and Human Development found that cutting calories can make cells mimic being younger. However, their study was based on results from 175 participants reducing their calories by 25 percent for two years. The protective caps on chromosomes, telomeres, were longer, healthier and biologically younger than those of people who hadn’t restricted their calories.

Cutting 25 percent of your daily calories for two years may be challenging. If a person followed the recommended calorie intake of 2,000 daily for women and 2,500 for men, they would have to cut 500 or 625 respectively. It can be achieved by using smaller plates, paying close attention to serving sizes, using time-restricted eating and other methods. But keeping that up for two years might be difficult.  

The researchers said that if it’s not possible to cut out that many calories, doing what you can may be beneficial. They recommended small steps you can take to cut calories without drastic changes. Simply using Greek yogurt in any recipe that calls for mayo cuts calories. Using half the dipping sauce you normally would have trims calories from your day. Opting for an open-faced sandwich removes a slice of bread without making you feel deprived. Stick to chicken over beef and go for green veggies over starches, and you’ll make progress.

While cutting calories is often only seen as a tool for weight loss, it can impact many aspects of health. It can be the first step. For instance, cutting calories can lead to weight loss, making exercising easier. However, it may also help you directly, as these studies show. However, restricting calories is not healthy for everyone. Before you start dieting, speak to your doctor to be sure it’s healthy for you to do so. They can help you make a great plan that will fit your lifestyle and goals.      

Banner image: Valeria Boltneva via Pexels

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