Even for people who are a healthy weight or only somewhat overweight, cutting calories for two years may lead to weight loss as well as improved mood and sexual drive, according to a new study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Obese people who lose weight experience improvements in quality of life, but it wasn’t known if those benefits would occur in normal weight or slightly overweight individuals. Some researchers have thought that calorie restriction in normal weight people might negatively affect quality of life.
For the study, the researchers recruited 220 men and women with a body mass index between 22 and 28. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of weight in relation to height. Under 25 is considered normal; higher is considered overweight.
The researchers divided the study participants into two groups. A larger group was directed to reduce calorie intake by 25 percent. A smaller group was allowed to continue to eat as much as they liked.
The calorie-restriction group received a manual-based curriculum and had all their food provided for the first 27 days of the two-year study.
Calorie restriction improved sleep, mood
By the end of the study, those in the calorie restriction group had lost an average of almost 17 pounds, compared to less than a pound for the comparison group.
The participants completed quality of life questionnaires before the study began, at year one and at year two.
At year one, the calorie restriction group reported better quality sleep than those in the comparison group. At year two, they reported better mood, more sexual drive and better general health.
On average, people in the calorie restriction group cut their intake by about 12 percent over two years.
The diets used in the study aimed to reduce calorie intake but were rich in nutrients, and participants were given a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. People could experience negative effects of calorie restriction if their diet is not nutritious, the researchers said.
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