The mechanism behind how calorie-restricted diets increase longevity has been revealed by scientists.
They have found that proteins in the fat cells change as pounds drop off.
According to researchers, the proteins could become markers for monitoring or boosting the effectiveness of calorie-restricted diets - the only scientifically proven way of extending life span in animals.
Edwin Mariman and colleagues note that scientists have long known that sharply restricting intake of calories while maintaining good nutrition makes animals live longer and stay healthier.
Recent studies suggest that people may gain similar benefits. However, scientists know little about how these diets work in humans, particularly their effects on cells that store fat.
The new study focused on proteins in abdominal subcutaneous fat cells from a group of overweight people before and after they went on a five-week-long calorie-restricted diet.
The volunteers each lost an average of 21 pounds. Scientists identified changes in the levels of 6 proteins as the volunteers shed pounds, including proteins that tell the body to store fat.
The researchers say that these proteins could serve as important markers for improving or tracking the effectiveness of therapies involving calorie-restricted diets.
The study appears online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.