Harvard Men's Health Watch

Cutting calories offers benefits for normal and overweight adults

In the Journals

Reducing your daily calories by 25% may improve health-related quality of life, even if you are not overweight, says a randomized clinical trial published online May 2, 2016, by JAMA Internal Medicine.

About half of 220 subjects were classified as overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9. The rest were in the normal weight range, with a BMI of 22 to 24.9. They were divided two-to-one into two groups. Those in the larger group lowered their daily calories 25% by following the CALERIE study diet plan, which focuses on portion control and nutrient-rich and high-fiber foods, like vegetables, fruit, cereals, and soups. The people in the control group ate what they wanted.

After two years, the calorie restriction group lost an average of 16.7 pounds compared with less than a pound for the control group. They also had better mood, higher sex drive, and better quality of sleep.

The study did not identify the mechanism responsible for the changes, says lead researcher Dr. Corby Martin, of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. "But because improvements increased with additional weight loss, we know the effect is associated both with weight loss and the degree of calorie restriction," he says.