Here's How Many Calories You Need to Eat To Stay Young

Cutting this amount will help you drop 20 pounds—and extend your life.

Everyone knows that exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, along with cutting out nicotine and alcohol, can help slow down or even reverse the aging process. But according to a new breakthrough study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, so can cutting calories by 15 percent for two years.

Previous studies have shown that slashing calories by 25 percent helped animals live longer, so Leanne M. Redman, lead author of the study and an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, set out to find out if the same could be true for humans.

For the CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) study, the researchers recruited women between 25 and 45 and men between 25 and 50, half of which had a normal BMI and the other half of which were overweight. The participants were told they could eat whatever they liked, provided they cut down their calorie intake by 25 percent. The participants were also asked to weigh themselves, since ultimately the amount of calories they slashed was estimated by their weight loss.

Cutting calories isn't easy, so the participants only managed to cut down on about 15 percent of their daily calories, but, according to Redman, even that led to some "remarkable" results, the least of which was losing an average of 20 pounds each.

"The calorie-restrictive diet also caused a reduction in sleeping metabolic rate by about 10 percent," Redman told CNN. "It's important because every time we generate energy in the body, we generate byproducts."

These byproducts are what accumulate in the body over time and lead to the cell destruction we call aging, so to slow down the sleeping metabolic rate by 10% is to significantly extend one's youth.

It's an important finding, especially given that calorie-cutting is becoming increasingly less popular in the world of weight loss, replaced by personalized diets via DNA testing, or counting macros instead of calories.

But, apparently, if you want to prolong your life and ward off age-related diseases, taking on a calorie-restrictive diet makes a big difference. For the record, the common belief is that a woman needs 2,000 calories and a man needs 2,500 calories a day to live, so cutting things down by 15 percent would mean 1700 calories for women and 2125 for men.

"We know that longer-lived individuals are able to sustain lower blood sugar levels and lower levels of insulin and have lower core body temperature levels in comparison to people who don't live as long as them," Redman said. "Reducing calorie intake provides health benefits to all people regardless of their current health status." And for more amazing ways to stay healthy, don't miss these 40 Habits to Drop by Age 40.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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