New research suggests that a low-calorie diet could be healthier for your body as you get older. In fact, a recent study conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found signs that reducing calories could help decrease damage due to aging, which could translate into living a longer life.

Cut the Calories

According to Nature: International Journal of Science:

The scientists found that participants on the diet used energy much more efficiently while sleeping than did the control group. This reduction in their base metabolic rate was greater than would be expected as a result of the test group’s weight loss, which averaged nearly 9 kilograms per participant. All the other clinical measurements were in line with reduced metabolic rate, and indicated a decrease in damage due to ageing.

Couple this study with the fact that eating less (especially meat) reduces the amount of natural resources required to get that food to your table, and it appears that a low-cal diet is a win-win for both you and the environment.

Michael Pollan, author and activist, sums it up like this: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Organic tomatoes

The Impact of Meat

The meat industry alone accounts for approximately 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. A large percent of these emissions come from methane, which, according to new research, is 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.


Meat requires the most water to produce of any food, according to the Water Footprint Calculator. Six ounces of steak produces a water footprint of 674 gallons, while a salad with a tomato, lettuce and cucumbers is only 21 gallons. By eating lower on the food chain, you can still meet your daily dietary needs while lessening the amount of water required for your meals.

Of course, reducing calories isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re a growing child or have health concerns, but it is worth considering for those for whom this “diet” would be appropriate. In addition to the health, longevity and environmental benefits, you just might also spend less on food.

Don’t want to cut the calories but would like to eat more sustainably? 

Listen to the Earth911 interview with Kathy Freston, co-author of 72 Reasons to Be Vegan: Why Plant-Based. Why Now.

By Wendy Gabriel

Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer based in California. Wendy's work has been featured in numerous publications and websites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Business News and For nearly six years, she was a weekly contributor on a popular radio talk show in the Upper Midwest with a segment titled “Simple Tips for Green Living.”