Calorie restriction as a means to control one’s body weight and the healthy side benefits of this method has gained a lot of attention from both the general media and the scientific community in recent times. Looking at PubMed — a major scientific research database, it is noteworthy that the number of citations for calorie restriction in the first seven months of 2017 is about equal to the number of citations given from 1944 to 1982.
The health benefits of calorie restriction were first noted in the seminal lab rat studies of Dr. Clive McCay at Cornell University in the 1930. These benefits include longer lifespan and significant metabolic improvements. The issue is that many individuals find it difficult to follow a program of daily caloric restriction. One way is to decide to limit portion sizes.
In this “Super-size me” world this may seems like an impossible task, but it is clear from the statistics of Global obesity (Globesity) this is a rational and sensible approach to weight management.
Portion control is a simple yet effective approach to weight management. How much you eat is certainly as important as what you eat. Think of food as a way to ensure getting the nutrients that you need. You will not want to squander limited calories on crap food that does nothing to enhance your health and longevity, would you? You want to get as much nutritional bang for your calorie (bucks) as possible so spending them wisely and carefully makes sense.
First, plan your meals and snacks in advance. After you cook or prepare your meals, divide them up into sensible portions so you will not be tempted to overindulge. Many food items can be stored for weeks in the freezer, and by having such foods ready and available you are less likely to make quality or quantity mistakes.
Secondly, fill up with fiber because it is important for your digestive health but also it will keep you feeling full. Consumption of fiber is also healthy for your heart, keeping your blood sugar under control and is linked to longevity. The best sources are fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans to get the best value for your nutritional currency.
Thirdly, you want to eat your colors, to get nutritional variety into your diet. A good rule is to fill half your plate (it should be a regular sized dinner plate, not the mega plates that are in common use in this day and age) with plant foods and then split the remaining half with protein or legume and whole grains.
The possible almost infinite variety in our diet is a luxury that we have due to the modern-day food industry, but it is still also a good idea to, as much as possible, eat local and eat what is in season. You can get lots of variety by eating from our local farmer’s market and you will be spending your calories wisely.
Finally, it goes without saying that you must not indulge in “seconds.” Many scientific studies have revealed that it takes a full 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to communicate to each other that you are satiated.
If you wolf down your food so quickly that you reach for more before you have given your body time to acknowledge that it has what is needs, you are simply overriding the feedback mechanism. Take your time eating, chew your food, savor the flavors, so that you stop when you are full.
Other sensible methods of weight maintenance such as intermittent fasting which also has decided health benefits are reasonable given our hunter and gatherer heritage wherein we would go hungry some days and in fact be all the better for it.
Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting have much in common from a health benefit perspective, however, calorie restriction is a daily reduction in calorie intake usually between 20 to 40 percent of an individual’s energy requirements (while of course providing the essential nutrients) whereas intermittent fasting refers to setting aside one or two days a week in which one significantly reduces their caloric intake.
I will write more about intermittent fasting and the many benefits of this style of weight management. Until then, wishing you and yours the healthiest life imaginable. A hui hou.
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at email@example.com, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com.