Posted by: 4pack | August 26, 2009

“Ideal Diets”: Calorie Restriction Is Calorie Reduction, Which Remains The Only Way To Successfully Lose Weight



 Remember the grapefruit (aka The Hollywood Diet) diet?  Even though the proponents of that particular eating plan insist that grapefruit has certain fat burning capabilities, looking closely at the diet plan reveals a diet that “works” because it is significantly low in calories.

The research on the subject seems to be pointing to the fact that a lifestyle of calorie restriction not only extends life expectancy, it greatly enhances quality of life, regardless of how long a person lives.

The research on the subject seems to be pointing to the fact that a lifestyle of calorie restriction not only extends life expectancy, it greatly enhances quality of life, regardless of how long a person lives.


Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are also eating plans that are based on calorie restriction (sorry Marie and Valerie), not on some secret enzymatic response to eating a certain way. 

The science behind all of this is rather fascinating.  Science Daily recently published an article on the results of research by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.  Scientists there have discovered that two enzymes working in tandem are responsible for determining the health benefits of a restricted diet.  In the journal Nature, the Salk team reported that roundworms that lacked one of the two enzymes did not live past life expectancy, even though they remained on a restricted diet.

The researchers go on to declare that there are 3 known genetic networks that when manipulated, ensure youthfulness (and you thought genetic testing was limited to CSI); one of those is clearly linked to diet restriction.

In 2008, the University of Texas at Austin reported on a study that links a calorie restricted diet and exercise to a reduction in post menopausal breast cancer risk.  Obesity, which is a risk factor for a plethora of medical ailments, can be manipulated through diet and exercise, so naturally diseases resulting from excessive calorie intake can be potentially reduced.

A low calorie diet alone won’t bring about radical health changes all by itself, even though it can help.  Nutritionally dense foods must be part of any low calorie eating plan in order to reap significant health benefits. For example, if you eat a bag of miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and nothing else the rest of the day, you would be consuming less than 1200 calories.  But nutritionally, your body would wonder when you were going to throw it a bone by eating some fruits and vegetables.

One diet that claims to provide a nutritionally dense, low calorie eating plan is the macrobiotic diet.  This diet focuses not only on the physical aspect of eating, but on its role in spiritual growth.  Based on tenets of Zen Buddhism, the plan is all about the balance of yin and yang.  Fifty percent of calories on a macrobiotic diet are grains, while the rest of them come from legumes, fermented soy and soup.  For more information on this particular diet (which also focuses on organic food, which helps support local farmers and community gardens), read “The Cancer Prevention Diet” by Micho Kushi and Alex Jack.

Another nutritious eating plan comes from a 25 year study on residents in Okinawa.  This Japanese city has the highest percentage of per capita centenarians than any other community in the world.  Drs. Bradley and D. Craig Wilcox along with Dr. Makota Suzuki have published their findings in the book “The Okinawa Program.”

Okinawans consume 40% fewer calories than the average adult in the United States.  Japan’s obesity rate is a mere 4%, while the United States’ is a whopping 34% (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).  Their standard eating plan consists of 300% more greens than the American diet and no meat, eggs, or dairy products.  For protein, Okinawans eat a little fish, seeds and a few nuts.

The benefits to such an eating plan are too numerous to list, but science continues to support the notion that calorie restriction is a good idea. Harvard and Cornell Medical Schools recently published a study proving that a calorie restricted diet promotes longevity, cancer prevention, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Clearly, we’ve got nothing to lose by restricting calorie intake except a lot of extra pounds and a host of life threatening diseases.   Who knows? If the majority of Americans followed the lead of the citizens of Okinawa, we might not even NEED to reform our health care system.

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