Strike a balance with calorie-restricted diet

Enjoy both an apple and a donut when you follow calorie-restricted diet.

According to a recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, those following a calorie-restricted diet not only burned fat but also underwent reduced cell damage — a crucial part of minimising the ageing process. The study has also reignited interest in the term ‘calorie-restricted’ with many wanting to know how it can be adapted for health benefits.

Researchers define caloric restriction (CR) as reducing food intake while avoiding malnutrition. This usually means consuming 30-40% fewer calories than the standard daily requirement. That’s the equivalent of limiting daily intake to around 1,200 calories for women and 1,400 calories for men.

Calorie restriction vs fasting

Calorie restriction is not the same as fasting. The process involves cutting off all sorts of food that can cause oxidation. It also includes adding to the diet, foods that are rich in antioxidants. This in turn helps in protecting the body from oxidative stress. “For example, eating too much sugar and processed carbohydrates (like pasta, bread, and baked goods) can damage your skin’s collagen, which keeps your skin supple and helps resist wrinkles. Moreover, these foods damage your overall health. They come with risk of heart diseases and diabetes. The bad boys are: alcohol, sugar, refined flour and its products, fatty meats, sugary pastries, etc,” says Delnaaz T Chanduwadia, chief dietician, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Pedder Road.

In a crux, the food should be nutrition-dense rather than being calorie-dense. Chanduwadia adds, “Foods that are rich in antioxidants which help to nullify the level of oxidative damage in the body. Foods that are particularly high in antioxidants are the colourful fruits and vegetables. The pigments found in these colourful vegetables work as potent antioxidants.”

In calorie-restricted diet one consumes more of nutrionally dense food items and is permitted to indulge in chocolates and wine provided it is within the day’s prescribed calorie count. (Photo: IStock)

Who is it recommended for?

Losing sustainable amount of weight may improve weight-related medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Therefore, those suffering from these illnesses can opt for this diet.

Experts also recommend this diet for people with obesity. “Due to obesity, there is an increase in free radical via smoking, increase in fatty food, trans fat, difficulty in breathing, etc. The body is under constant stress because of which the free radicals attack the lipid layer of the cell and cause damage. This further alters the protein structure which hampers the function of enzyme and hormones later, altering the DNA and mitochondria of the cell leading to complete damage. It continues as a chain, which later leads a greater risk of cardiac arrest and makes one more vulnerable to stroke, arthritis, cancer and early ageing,” says Pooja Thacker, nutritionist, Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo.

Know the probable risks involved

Calorie restriction is considered safe, practical, feasible and effective in reducing age-related diseases and the risk factors for ageing. However, if not done under professional supervision can cause some harmful effects including loss of bone density and muscle, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and skewed hunger, headache, dizziness and low blood pressure, constipation and dehydration, abnormal heart rhythms, lack of attention, inhibit absorption of certain medications, malnutrition, loss of skin and hair integrity, and negative impact on various vital body functions.


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