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Limiting Calorie Intake Could Make Unhealthy Food More Attractive To You

Calories Intake
Not getting enough calories could actually put added value on food . iStockphoto

Skipping meals or restricting caloric intake can be perceived as an easy way to lose weight without actually modifying your diet or participating in physical activity. But it turns out this formula is more than misguided and may be having adverse effects on your health.

Researchers from the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) produced findings that suggest limiting the number of calories you take in will actually strengthen your appeal to unhealthy food. In fact, the longer you're able to limit caloric intake, the more you'll binge when you do eat.

"These results are unique in that these data are the first to suggest that elective caloric restriction increases the degree to which brain regions implicated in reward valuation and attention are activated by exposure to palatable foods," said Dr. Eric Stice, senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute.

Dr. Stice and his colleagues examined two groups of adolescents who willingly curbed their dieting habits to correspond with low calorie consumption.

Researchers used a brain imaging paradigm to monitor activity in the attention and reward regions of the brain for the first group of 34 adolescents. When participants were showed pictures of appetizing food options there was a notable spike in hyperactivity compared to unappetizing food options.

The second group of 51 adolescents was analyzed using the same brain imaging paradigm; however, their neural activity was tracked while actually consuming either a chocolate milkshake or a tasteless liquid with zero calories.

The team found that children who consumed a chocolate milkshake after three to 22 hours of caloric deprivation showed a spike in neural activity for an anticipated reward.

"The implications of this imaging study are crystal clear; if people want to lose excess weight, it would be more effective to consume healthy, low-fat/low-sugar foods during regular meals, rather than go for long periods of time without any caloric intake" said Dr. Stice.

Past studies have suggested that meal skipping or designated caloric intake can lead to a bevy of health concerns. Depriving the body of food means you're depriving it of nutrition needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Skipping a meal can cause an intense drop in blood sugar levels which, if done in succession, can have damaging effects on blood pressure. Due to this bodily response, malnutrition has been linked to diabetes development later in life.

 

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