The following is an excerpt from conversation that I had with a client earlier this week.
Dear Coach Sykes:
There are two schools of thought pertaining to calorie restriction.
One states that that long term calorie restriction can lengthen your lifespan.
The other school of thought is that a calorie restrictive diet can NOT lengthen your lifespan.
Which is true?
Dear reader: The question of calories is a complicated one. Let’s first deal with what a calorie is. A calorie is a unit measurement that marks how much heat it takes to covert a solid (food) into a usable form of energy in your body.
Essentially the “calorie” itself is of no significance other that the overemphasis given by the diet and exercise industry for the last 50 years.
The important thing is the energy that is contained within the foods we consume and how processing these food affect aging.
We need energy to live, and food obviously provides that energy.
The key for optimal health lies in the balance between not consuming too many calories and not consuming too few calories.
Both extremes have negative side effects.
Consuming too many calories is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, & heart disease.
Undereating has its downside too.
If you don’t consume enough food you run the risk of malnutrition which results in low energy, decreased organ function, & eventual death.
There seems to be a sweet spot.
Researchers 1st observed benefits of calorie restriction in an experiment conducted on laboratory rats in the 1930’s.
Since then there have been more studies that have documented that a 30-60% reduction of calories for mice & rats led to an increase in both segments lifespan.
As compared to exercise, calorie restriction in rodents improved lifespan by 25% and as much as 50% versus rodents that did not exercise.
Additional research has shown benefits if calorie restriction in chickens, spiders, and even single cell organisms.
The reason for this increase in lifespan seems to lie in metabolism.
The metabolism apparently reduces just enough to decrease the oxidative stress placed on the body during the calorie burning cycle of action.
Decrease oxidative stress reduces the production of chemical damage to DNA, cell membranes, & proteins contained within cells.
Further, decrease in calories leads to lower blood sugar and subsequent insulin levels.
All in all, the body is being placed under less stressful environment when it consumes less calories.
In a study done on calories restriction of humans, a group of people were followed for 2 years.
Their food intake was monitored and documented.
The research indicated that the calorie restrictive group lost 16 more pounds than those that consumed what would be considered normal levels of food.
There were also better mood, energy, & sex life in the calorie restrictive group.
Another study conducted in Okinawa, Japan revealed that people that consumed 17% less calories than average have a 31-41% decrease chance of developing cancer, stroke, & heart attack.
Personally, I have gone through several 10 day calorie restrictive sessions and have seen my energy greatly improve during the 10 day cycle.
Overall I think calorie restriction does have many benefits, but we must be mindful to consume a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, & flowing water if we want to maximize our lifespan.
I hope this answers your question and you find this information useful.
Coach Sykes Out!