The Health Benefits and Risks of Calorie Restriction
Commonly abbreviated to CR, calorie restriction is a diet that is based around a low calorie intake. Usually defined as a 30-60% reduction in calorie consumption, this diet, which is still able to provide enough nutrients to prevent malnutrition, comes with some unique benefits and risks that need to be seriously considered before practicing calorie restriction.
Encourages Weight Loss
One of the most common outcomes of calorie restriction is a significant decrease in overall body weight, as well as body mass index. There is an abundance of research out there that proves the many ways in which excess fat is harmful to long term health, with even modest levels of excess fat becoming quite damaging in the long run, and the way in which calorie restriction reduces the amount of fat tissue in your body could contribute to a large portion of the benefits of this diet.
Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
Obesity and hypertension are two factors that greatly contribute to heart disease, and calorie restriction helps to minimize both of these, there by significantly decreasing the chances of developing heart disease. In addition to this, calorie restriction encourages the body to release more of a hormone called adiponectin, which is known for promoting metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Increases Life Span
While human studies in calorie restriction are still being carried out, studies that have looked at other animals experiencing extreme examples of the diet have discovered an increased life span of between 40% and 60%. One of the reasons for this may be due to the way in which calorie restriction promotes healthy cellular function, encouraging each and every cell in the body to thrive rather than survive.
While those who have excess body fat will benefit to an extent from calorie restriction, people who have minimal body fat are at risk of muscular atrophy when trying out this diet. Since your body will not have a high amount of fat reserves, it will start eating away at your muscles in order to provide it with the energy that it needs.
Decrease in Metabolism
Your metabolic rate is the speed at which your body burns fuel for energy, and calorie restriction drastically slows this down. While this may be beneficial in certain instances, your metabolic rate has an impact on many of your body’s functions, from breathing to growth to digestion, and these can all be affected by calorie restriction.
While calorie restriction may seem like an easy way to experience these many health benefits, it does require a certain level of dedication and discipline, as you need to ensure that your body is still receiving all of the nutrition that it needs in order to avoid malnutrition, which is a common side effect of calorie restriction. Fortunately, there are many nutritional analysis tools out there that can help with this, although it is still recommended that you speak to a professional before embarking on a calorie restricted diet, so that you can make sure that it really would benefit your individual health.