The Key to a Longer Life?
We all dream of a long, healthy lifespan, yes? What’s less certain is how to delay cellular senescence and increase the longevity gene. More and more, researchers are thinking calorie restricting may be key.
Why Calorie Restricting Is Worth Looking At
Calorie restriction is defined as reducing caloric intake by up to 30% from regular calories while taking in enough nutrient-dense foods to prevent malnutrition. Note that this strategy of eating is not just about cutting the fatty foods from your diet—it’s about providing the body a minimum of what it needs to work efficiently. As such, it involves reframing our thinking about food and calls us to focus more on what we eat and why—how do our nutritional choices support or hinder the metabolic process?
Scientists believe caloric restriction stimulates a defense state in the body designed to help us survive environmental and metabolic adversity. Studies in animal trials suggest it may protect telomere length by contributing to a decrease of oxidative stress. Caloric restriction has consistently been shown to delay the onset of age-related diseases such as cancer and diabetes across multiple nonhuman primates, and mounting evidence recognizes that the simplest way to improve one’s healthspan is through diet and exercise.
On that note, it’s important to recognize that caloric restriction as a part of a healthy lifestyle is about more than our food choices. Exercise also plays a role in the body’s utilization of caloric content. Exercise not only has the power to help us manage our calorie balance, it also promotes heart health and helps boost the metabolism.
Incorporating Calorie Restriction and Exercise for Metabolic Support
Below is our straightforward approach to caloric restriction if you—in consultation with your doctor—decide you’d like to make it a part of your daily lifestyle.
- Aim to get active for at least 30 minutes, 3–4 times a week.
- Find a physical activity you can look forward to—enjoyment is key to consistency—and do it regularly.
- Keep an eye on the calories you burn; consider purchasing a heart-rate monitor; these not only provide you with important information about the effectiveness of your workouts, they keep you motivated and may push you to work harder as you see the numbers tick up.
- Tell a friend or family member about your goals; this helps create accountability and gives you a cheer squad as you undertake your journey.
- Monitor your food intake and be mindful of portions. There are a number of great free apps on the market to help you keep track of what you’re consuming on a daily basis.
- Eat foods that fill you up with the fewest calories. Foods rich in protein and fiber are top on the list, as are fruits for their high water content.
- Keep junk food and other temptations out of the house—don’t try to depend on self-discipline all the time.
- Drink more water. Try a glass of water before each meal and notice if there’s a difference in how much you put on your plate.
- Get up and move more. Remember that all movement matters, whether it’s walking the dog, playing with the kids or hitting the gym. Little bursts of activity throughout the day can add up to a big calorie burn.
- Pump some iron. By lifting weights, you deplete glucose utilization within the muscle which, in turn, raises your RMR (resting metabolic rate). This not only helps you burn calories during your workout, it helps you continue to burn calories well afterward.
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