What if We Simply Eat Less?

Cutting just a few calories offers big health benefits

Robert Roy Britt
6 min readAug 1, 2022

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Image: Pexels

After a weeks-long camping trip through remote desert and mountain areas across the West, I had to tighten my belt a full notch. Literally. I’m in reasonably good shape and, at 5–11, I consistently weigh around 151 pounds, so I was surprised when I stepped on the scales back home and found I’d dropped 10 pounds.

Here’s the kicker: I felt great.

I was in a good mood and my body felt trim and capable of doing just about anything except holding up my pants. And there’s only one explanation: I ate less out there.

My wife and I packed no cookies for our offroad excursion, couldn’t phone in 4WD pizza delivery and, in a true test of willpower, had no freezer for ice cream. After chewing on what happened, I dug into the research on calorie restriction, and I can confidently serve up this compelling morsel:

Cutting calories, even modestly, is really good you. It gives your hard-working bodily organs a break and boosts the immune system to protect against both physical and mental diseases, promoting longer and healthier life.

Just nix six Oreos

It’s a sad fact that most diets don’t work. Any initial weight loss and improvement in cardiovascular health derived early on largely evaporate after a year, according to a review of 121 studies on 14 popular diet schemes, including Atkins, paleo and keto.

Meanwhile, studies going back decades in worms, flies, primates and actual lab rats have found unquestionably that reducing calories improves health and extends life, and tends to result in weight loss, too. In recent years, human trials, though mostly involving only dozens or a few hundred people, have indicated these benefits extend to us.

Nixing a mere 300 calories per day — roughly six Oreos, or one large slice of pizza, or half a pint of ice cream — significantly improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health markers known as risk factors for heart disease, cancer and dementia, according to a randomized, controlled trial of 218 adults under age 50 who were at healthy weight or packed only a few extra pounds at the beginning of the study.

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Robert Roy Britt

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB