Are you looking to shed a few pounds, or just feel better about yourself? A recent study found that cutting as few as 300 calories a day for an extended period of time can have significant benefits, including weight loss and improved health.
“This study is important because it shows that even small changes can have positive results,” says Rachel Wagner, MS, LD, a Licensed Dietitian at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center.
Researchers in the study followed 218 healthy young and middle-aged adults and had them cut 25% of their calories or maintain their usual diet for two years. The participants were generally fit or just slightly overweight.
“Cutting 25% of your calories is not easy, so it isn’t surprising that during the study most participants were only able to cut about 12% or 300 calories a day,” says Rachel. “They also had behavioral counseling during the study to help them stick to the diet—which is important to recognize.”
What does 300 calories look like?
- Six Oreo cookies
- McDonald’s medium fries
- 12-ounce pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks
- 23.5-ounce can of Arizona raspberry ice tea
- Medium strawberry coolatta from Dunkin Donuts
- 2-egg omelet with cheese
- A slice of pumpkin pie (with no whipped cream)
By restricting their calorie intake for two years, the average weight loss for participants was 10% of their body weight, or 16 pounds on average. During the two years, participants who restricted their calories lowered their blood pressure and their LDL cholesterol. They also had a 24 percent drop in their triglycerides, all of which can have a significant influence on your heart health. In addition, they had improved metabolic rates, reduced inflammation, and blood sugar levels.
You may think the weight loss was the reason for the improved measurements, but the study found weight loss is only responsible for one quarter of the improvements. The researchers suggest that restricting calories has benefits beyond weight loss.
“There is still more research to be done on how or if calorie restriction can help you live longer or reduce the incidence of chronic disease,” says Rachel. “But it is clear that it can help you lose weight and be generally healthier.”
Do you need help losing weight? Talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling (859) 212-4625. You can also watch our free medical weight management seminar online.