More sleep, better sex, and an improved mood could be just one dietary change away—if you're willing to part with your favorite high-calorie foods. According to a new study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, calorie restriction could be the key to achieving all of these things in normal-weight and overweight adults.
The study participants included over 200 men and women between the ages of 20 and 50, all with a body mass index in the average to overweight range. The subjects were divided into two groups for the extent of the two-year study; one group was asked to restrict calories by 25 percent, while the other was allowed to continue eating normally.
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At the conclusion of the study, the majority of the participants on the restricted-calorie diet reported an increased sex drive, less stress, better sleep, and more positive moods in general compared to those who consumed their regular amount of calories. "Calorie restrictions had some favorable effects on the outcomes, and weight loss was associated with improvement in may of the end points," said the study authors, who believe this is the first study to directly observe whether calorie restriction affects psychological well-being, in addition to physical well-being.
On the physical side, the calorie-restricted group losts 16.8 pounds on average, despite the fact that most of the group only cut around 11.9 percent of calories, rather than the 25 percent asked of them. It is unclear, the researchers say, how the additional decrease in calories would have further effected the mood of the participants. Lead scientist Corby Martin also points out that it was impossible to quantify whether the effects were specifically caused by the calorie restriction, or by weight loss in general.
As CNN notes, there were some limitations to the study. Almost three-quarters of participants were female, and more than three-quarters were white, which is problematic when trying to apply the results to the broader population. However, these results could be the first step to utilizing something as simple as calorie restriction to help those suffering from anxiety, foul moods, and difficulty sleeping find a simple, diet-based solution to their physical and mental obstacles.