Perhaps the first study to look directly at the relationship between calorie restriction and sex drive was recently conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Study Shows How Effective Calorie Restriction is
In the study, researchers recruited 200 healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 50 whose body weights were normal or overweight, but not obese. Participants were separated into two groups to be followed over the course of two years.
One group was allowed to eat whatever they wanted. The other group was asked to reduce their caloric intake by 25 percent. After two years, although the caloric-restriction group only achieved a caloric reduction of 12 percent, they lost nearly 17 pounds on average and reported having better moods, higher sex drives, better sleep and less stressful lives compared to the control group.
The Health Benefits of Calorie Restriction
The beneficial effects of calorie restriction may be attributed to a number of different factors. Calorie restriction may help improve energy and well-being because striving to eat fewer calories often leads to eating more nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables. Veggies have few calories but tons of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, which helps keep you feeling full. A calorie-restricted diet might prompt you to eat more of the foods that provide the vitamins and minerals that you may have lacked before.
The improved sleep reported by those who eat fewer calories is likely due to a reduced incidence of sleep apnea. Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk of sleep apnea, which reduces your quality of sleep and leaves you more tired in the morning. Studies have shown that losing as little as five percent of your body weight can alleviate sleep apnea.
The link between calorie restriction and sex drive can partially be attributed to the fact that being more physically healthy is proven to improve your libido. One survey of over 1,200 people found that obese people are 25 times more likely to report sexual dissatisfaction than those with a normal body weight. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that for men, a five-point increase in BMI has the same reducing effect on testosterone levels as a 10-year increase in age. Erectile dysfunction can also be a problem for up to 80 percent of obese men. Even losing just 10 percent of your body weight can reverse all of these negative effects, plus many others.
Other Reasons to Reduce Caloric Intake
You do not have to be obese to benefit from calorie restriction and even a small reduction in body weight. Numerous studies have shown significant benefits in losing just five percent of your body weight.
- Losing just 10 pounds can decrease your risk of osteoarthritis by up to 50 percent.
- Losing five to 10 percent of your body weight can increase your HDL cholesterol by five points, reducing your risk of heart disease.
- Losing just eight pounds can significantly reduce levels of certain carcinogenic hormones that increase your risk of breast and uterine cancer.
- Losing five to 10 percent of your body weight also can significantly lower your triglyceride levels, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Studies done on mice suggest that calorie restriction can slow down the aging processes.
- Lastly, losing five to 10 percent of your weight can have almost the same benefit on your blood sugar balance as some anti-diabetic medications.
Tips for Easy Weight Loss
- A very simple way to reduce your caloric intake is to drastically reduce or eliminate your consumption of sweetened beverages. These can add up to hundreds of unnecessary calories each day, and have no nutritional value. Drink unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee and sparkling water instead.
- Try to follow the government recommendation of filling up your plate with 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 whole grains. This proportion is easy to remember, provides a wide variety of nutrients and can keep you full for longer than eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal which is typical for the Western Diet.
- Be careful of how much fat you eat. Foods such as salad dressing, peanut butter and cheese have surprisingly high caloric content that can add up very quickly. Consider measuring these types of food out so you know exactly how many calories you’re consuming.
- Remember that diet is much more important for weight loss than exercise. Although you should still exercise for its numerous other health benefits, it is much easier to forgo eating a 500-calorie slice of cake than to go for an hour-long run to burn it off.