If you want to lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories. However, what can cutting calories do for the heart? Let’s find out.
According to new research available in Circulation, cutting 250 calories daily may improve heart health in older, obese adults. The research shows that combining this calorie reduction with moderate aerobic exercise is especially beneficial, more so than exercising by itself.
By eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you can help offset the effects of age on aortic stiffness. While aerobic exercise does have favorable effects, previous studies suggest that it is not sufficient for older adults with obesity.
“We sought to determine whether adding caloric restriction for weight loss would lead to greater improvements in vascular health compared to aerobic exercise alone in older adults with obesity,” says Tina E. Brinkley, Ph.D.
Brinkley is the lead author of the study and associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Participants of the study included 160 sedentary and obese adults, ages 65-79, the average age being 69, 74% female, 73% white. Three groups were assigned: exercise only and regular diet, exercise plus ~250 calorie reduction, and exercise plus ~600 calorie reduction.
All participants went through supervised aerobic training for 4 days per week during the 20-week study. Furthermore, the calorie-restricted groups had pre-made lunches and dinners while using a dietitian-approved menu for their breakfasts.
Researchers used cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging to measure the ability of the aorta to expand and contract (distensibility). To illustrate, the higher the speed at which blood travels through the aorta (PWV) and lower distensibility indicates stiffer aortas.
According to the study, losing about 20 pounds over the five-month study period shows significant improvements in aortic stiffness. Moreover, these results were specifically linked to the exercise group with moderate calorie restriction (~200). This group also had a 21% increase in distensibility and an 8% decrease in PWV.
There were no significant aortic stiffness changes in either the exercise-only or the intensive calorie (~600) restriction groups. However, both calorie-restricted groups had greater changes in BMI, total fat mass, percent body fat, abdominal fat, and waist circumference. While there was a higher calorie reduction in the intensive group, the weight loss percentage was similar to the moderate group.
What can cutting calories do for the heart?
“These results suggest that combining exercise with modest calorie restriction—as opposed to more intensive calorie restriction or no-calorie restriction—likely maximizes the benefits on vascular health, while also optimizing weight loss and improvements in body composition and body fat distribution,” says Brinkley.
Through a combination of aerobic exercises and a moderate calorie reduction, you can improve your heart health. However, if you need an extra boost, consider taking daily supplements like L-arginine Plus.
Its ingredients promote the production of nitric oxide, a natural vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation. Try L-arginine Plus along with a regular exercise routine and a moderate calorie reduction to boost your heart health.