In the news today there is a headline about calorie restriction: “Proof Mounts on Restricted Diet”.
In summary, this news item is about how following a reduced-calorie diet can extend life-span. The research is based on long-term animal studies, and the news story relates to increasing evidence that the results can be reproduced in humans. The beneficial effects are listed as not only delaying the ageing process and extending life-span, but also producing a high quality of life, reducing risks of disease plus other things like soaring energy levels and general well-being. Sounds good huh.
This is something we at the Virtual Health Club have been talking about for a number of years now.
So what is calorie restriction exactly? The principle is based on eating fewer calories (not rocket-science then!) and reducing your body-weight to a very lean level. But the most important aspect is ensuring you take in adequate nutrition. This is actually the opposite of the so-called Western Diet, characterised by overfeeding with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as burgers, white-bread and chips (fries) – did I hear a yum?
Just reducing the amount of unhealthy foods you eat so you eat fewer calories than you burn will of course result in weight-loss, but the crucial element to get these benefits is to eat healthy food types.
So what should we be eating? The key is to eat high-nutrient but low-calorie foods, such as vegetables and fruit, supplemented by foods containing ‘good-fats’ such as seeds and nuts. The trick with fats is to avoid saturated fats, and select monounsaturated fats, plus a little Omega-3 (e.g. found in linseeds/flaxseeds). Add to the mix some whole-grain foods such as wholemeal bread, and brown rice and you have the basis of a healthy age-resisting diet.
Try to include a variety of different foods to bring a balance of nutrients into your daily intake. Sounds simple – and it is, but implementing it is not so easy, especially in the western world where we are surrounded by unhealthy options.
So, if you aim to eat ‘healthily’ 90% of the time (i.e. 90% of your calorie intake), you can indulge yourself with small treats. Aim for ‘treats’ to be restricted to about 100kcal a day – definitely not easy! The good news is that as your body gets used to the new healthy diet, you will desire the unhealthy choices less and less. It’s worth persevering )