People have used the calorie controlled diet to increase both the length and quality of their life for more than 500 years.
The basic premise is simple: restrict the number of calories you eat to lose weight and look and feel better about yourself.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the research behind calorie controlled diets and show you how you can make permanent healthy changes in your life.
What the Research Says About Calorie Controlled Diets
Restricting calorie content has been shown to increase the lifespan of mice, rats, and monkeys in animal studies. While research on calorie restriction in humans is limited, the general consensus is most people could benefit from eating less calories—especially when you consider the fact that two out of every three Americans is now overweight or obese.
Restricting the number of calories you eat has multiple benefits, including weight loss and improved body composition. The question is, how do you practice a calorie controlled diet for life?
Tips for Sticking With a Calorie Controlled Diet
Humans are creatures of habit and what you eat every day is the product of habits you’ve learned over the years. The good news is, you can unlearn bad habits. The bad news: it takes time—66 days on average to turn a bad habit into a good one.
If you want to change a habit of overindulging into one where you effectively control the number of calories you eat each day, here are some steps you can take:
- Start keeping a food journal. Tracking everything you eat may sound tedious but it’s one of the best ways to stick with a calorie controlled diet. There are lots of free resources online to help you do this. My favorite is MyPlate on livestrong.com.
- Take tiny steps every day. BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, says that to change a behavior you should focus on small, simple changes. For example, if you want to eat less, start by replacing one unhealthy snack with a healthy one today.
- Hang out with your healthy friends more. Having a support network is crucial when you’re trying to form healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. Spending more time with other folks who eat right can really help.
- Plan before you go out to eat. I can’t overstate the importance of planning ahead on a calorie controlled diet. The average restaurant meal—not including drinks, appetizers, and dessert—has 1,128 calories. If you don’t scope out the menu ahead of time you’re doomed. Check online to see if they post nutrition facts or call ahead and talk to the manager or chef to inquire about a healthier option.
- Track your progress. Sticking with a calorie controlled diet can be tough. That’s why it’s important to track and monitor your progress. When you’re having a particularly tough day, you can look at your progress journal and see how far you’ve come. Just remember, all those small steps will eventually add up to big changes in your life if you stick with it.
National Institutes of Health: Can restricting calories help you to live longer?
National Institutes of Health: Caloric restriction
BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Model
ABC News: Dining Out on a Calorie Budget Nearly Impossible, Studies Find