With over one-third of Americans classified as being not just overweight but obese, many people would benefit from cutting calories to lose weight. Even those who are at a healthy weight might be able to benefit from reducing caloric intake. Making a few simple changes to your diet can help you cut calories.
- For those who are overweight, losing even a small amount of weight such as 10 or 15 pounds can be beneficial to health, lowering the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and increasing energy. After losing weight, you may also be able to cut back on the medications you have to take. Weight loss also has emotional benefits, decreasing depression symptoms and improving body image.
- Caloric restriction involves cutting your normal daily calories by 20 to 40 percent. Doing so may provide health benefits including lowering your risk for age-related conditions like diabetes, memory problems, cancer and heart disease.
- To lose weight at the recommended safe rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week, eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories each day and try to exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes per day. Cutting calories doesn’t have to leave you feeling hungry and deprived. Start by switching from beverages that contain calories to those that are calorie-free. Add more foods that have high water and fiber contents, such as non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains, to your diet since these allow you to eat a greater volume of food while still limiting calories. Finally, watch your portion sizes, especially when you are eating foods that are high in calories.
- Most of the research on the benefits of caloric restriction has involved animals rather than people, and the exact mechanisms for the potential benefits aren’t clear. Speak with your doctor before attempting to severely cut calories, since it can be hard to plan low-calorie diets that include all the essential nutrients. Diets that don’t contain enough fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fats could lead to health problems rather than helping to lower your risk for disease. People who are underweight shouldn’t attempt to cut calories.