Low-calorie diets have almost always shined bright in research studies, with favorable results for participants. When you start talking about extremely low-calorie diets, some new findings may surprise you.
Most dietitians do not recommend severely restricted calorie intake. So when you see a study that says their diabetic subjects saw improved heart function while on a 500-calorie-a-day regimen, it’s sure to raise eyebrows.
It should be noted upfront that the findings are not an endorsement of long-term extreme calorie restriction. Their positive findings were solely based on a short-term dietary change.
“Our results show that 16 weeks of caloric restriction improved heart function in these patients,” said lead author Dr. Sebastiaan Hammer, of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “More importantly, despite regain of weight, these beneficial cardiovascular effects were persistent over the long-term.”
The researchers examined 15 obese people with type 2 diabetes, seven of whom were men and eight were women. They measured their body mass index (BMI) and used MRI to analyze heart function and pericardial fat. This was done before and four months after the group started a 500-calorie-a-day diet.
Four months after the participants started their low-calorie diet, the average BMI fell from 35.3 to 27.5, and pericardial fat, which collects around the heart, decreased from 39 ml to 31 ml.
Researchers aren’t recommending anyone go on a highly restrictive diet without medical supervision.