Calorie restriction (CR) has been promoted to increase longevity. Previous studies have indicated that CR can negatively affect mood and therefore the effect of CR on mood and quality of life (QOL) becomes crucial when considering the feasibility of CR in humans. We conducted a three month clinical trial on CR (reduction of 300 to 500kcal/day) combined with two days/week of Muslim sunnah fasting (FCR) to determine the effectiveness of FCR on QOL among aging men in Klang Valley, Malaysia. A total of 25 healthy Malay men (age 58.8±5.1years), with no chronic diseases and a BMI of 23.0 to 29.9kg/m(2) were randomized to FCR (n=12) and control (n=13) groups.
Body composition measurements and QOL questionnaires were ascertained at baseline, week 6 and week 12. QOL was measured using the Short-Form 36, sleep quality was determined using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Beck Depression Inventory II was used to measure mood and the Perceived Stress Scale was used to measure depression. The FCR group had a significant reduction in body weight, BMI, body fat percentage and depression (P<0.05). The energy component of QOL was significantly increased in FCR group (p<0.05). There were no significant changes in sleep quality and stress level between the groups as a result of the intervention. In conclusion, FCR resulted in body weight and fat loss and alleviated depression with some improvement in the QOL in our study and has the potential to be implemented on a wider scale.
One of the common knee-jerk reactions to calorie restriction as a health practice is for people to think that it will make them unhappy: less food is equated with austerity, privation, misery and so forth. Perhaps this is a part of the unintentional indoctrination we all go through in our youth as a result of fiction and history lessons - for the vast majority of human history obtaining enough food was a continual struggle. Still, to equate calorie restriction with unhappiness is a naive view, held by people in the privileged position of being so wealthy in comparison to their ancestors that they can consistently overeat to the point of harming health and shortening life over the long term.
This bottom line: what has come to pass for normal in the modern diet is in fact caloric overkill and then some, and indulging has measurable consequences in the form of poor health and higher risk of age-related and lifestyle diseases. Eating only what is optimal - considerably less that what is now normal in other words - is beneficial in comparison. It enhances some evolved responses in cellular housekeeping mechanisms, removes some of the harm done by eating too much, and generally improves matters. What's not to like?