NIH Researchers Say Cutting 300 Calories from Your Diet Will Spur Weight Loss

It's not as many as you might think.

In recent years, calorie-restricted diets have become less popular compared to diets that focus more on what exactly you're eating (such as less meat) or when you're eating (like intermittent fasting). But, now, an interesting new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has found that it may not take all that much calorie-cutting to slim down your waistline and give your heart health a boost.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, asked nearly 150 participants between the ages of 21 to 50 who were of average weight to cut their caloric intake by 25 percent over the course of two years, and told the 75 people in the control group to carry on as usual. For the first six weeks, those in the calorie-restricted group ate their meals at clinical centers, and continued to be counseled on how to reduce their caloric intake over the next six months. During this time, they managed to eat about 20 percent fewer calories. But then they started to slip up, and, by the end of the two years, most had cut down their caloric intake by 12 percent—or roughly 300 calories.

Still, the researchers were surprised to find that even this relatively modest reduction carried a variety of benefits. On average, those who completed the calorie-restricted trial lost about 16 pounds, 71 percent of which was fat. They also had lower levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure and improved insulin resistance and metabolic rates.

"We expected there to be [some] improvement on cardiometabolic factors because of weight loss," William Kraus, a professor of cardiovascular genomics at Duke University and the lead author of the study, told NPR. "But … we didn't expect the degree of improvement we saw."

The findings are significant in light of nationwide concern over the ongoing obesity epidemic in America. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the average American is now clinically considered obese. Cutting 300 calories out of your diet could be as simple as abstaining from one slice of pizza or two cookies. According to this new research, the longterm benefits may just outweigh the joy of that extra bite. And for more on your caloric intake, check out Here's How Many Calories You Need to Eat To Stay Young.

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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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