Are you on the Calorie Restriction diet?

I did a little reading on this at this site after having heard about it on 48 Hours and PBS, etc.

Basically, the gist is that you cut your recommended daily intake of calories in half, all while maintaining recommended nutritional intake. The benefit is supposed extended life and energy.

It sounds like a good idea, based on what I’ve read. Then again, it all sounds a little flowery.

My question is, first of all, is it safe? And if not, why?

Do any of you practice it, and if so, what has been your experience?

Thanks Dopers.

Consuming fewer Calories than you burn every day is not only an excellent way to lose weight; it’s the only way it will happen. It is recommended to calculate your BCR (Basal Caloric Rate is your Google term) at one of the many web sites with the easy-to-use calculator. The BCR is the # of Cal. needed daily to run your body if you did nothing but lie there. You take that number, say it’s 2000, and lop off 500 (not 1000). That’s your new caloric intake per day, 1500. A caloric energy defecit of 500 per day times 7 days is 3500 Cal., or one pound off the scale per week. I did this, and it worked perfectly. Because it has to. The laws of physics don’t stay up late watching infomercials about weight loss gimmicks and fad diets selling you the idea that it’s healthy to pig out on eggs, cheese, cream and bacon, making it possible to eat only one or two meals a day.

Four to six smaller meals a day is better, like stoking a fire frequently with small pieces of wood instead of one massive, bloated log. I eat low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast (many varieties), soup for lunch (again lots of variety) have a snack/meal in the pm (veg/fruit/protein bar) and a giant salad for dinner with low- or no-fat dressing and one piece of bread. Done right, that’s about 1500-1600 Calories per day, and I’m never hungry. Do that six days a week, then on the seventh feel free to eat as much as you want of whatever you like. Make yourself do it. This is the key to my “Deliberately Fail at Dieting and Lose Weight Permanently” plan. The day off (a) makes you remember how big you’d be if you ate like this every day, and also (b) rewards you quite memorably and deliciously for six days of tenacity, and © reminds you that YOU are in control, not some “diet”. It also (d) satisfies the urge you’ll have anyway to binge, which will happen. For most people that “wrecks” their diet and gives them the excuse they needed to go back to the old bag of Doritos and 2-liter Coke plan, feeling guilty, remorseful, like a failure. For us, it was a planned weekly event, eagerly anticipated and enjoyed with relish (oops) which (e) gives us the mental and attitudinal energy to go yet another six days on the normal healthy eating plan, where food is really to fuel and maintain the body, in a reasonably tasty way. Only on day 7 is food strictly a tool for pleasure.

On this plan, if you happen to want a chocolate-covered cherry on any given day, you get to have it. Just look on the box and take its 120 or so calories into account, and slurp away. Want a beer? Go ahead! 200 of your daily Calories is all it costs. No restrictions. No denial. No weighing. No forbidden foods. No complicated “food mixing”. Once you learn the values of your foods, you won’t need to even consult the book anymore.

If sodium in soups concerns you, eat something else for lunch. Might I suggest another salad. Constantly affirming “I crave salads” until your subconscious mind believes it is also very useful and effective. It sounds goofy, and it’s OK to chuckle a bit at what we have to do to trick our minds into believing the programs WE want them to, but it works, and that’s what’s important. The image in the mirror will confirm the wisdom of your choices.

Good luck, and happy new year!

I’m very interested in it but I don’t practice it very rigorously. (that’s one of my New Year’s resolutions!) There’s been gads of research on the subject dating back to the 70’s and some interesting real-life examples such as the Okinawans. Of course nothing has been proven in humans but the lab animal research seems really strong. What I find really impressive is how even moderate calorie restriction can produce great improvements in overall health. The CR advocates also seem much less flakey than the average life extension fans.

The granddaddy of CR research is Ray Walford, a former UCLA professor and gerentology researcher, and his books make very inetresting reading. If you’re interested in reading more, check out Beyond the 120-year Diet. Walford discusses his time in the Biospere when all the participants were essentially forced into CR due to lack of food.

There’s also CR Society Email archives you can browse (located at the link you posted). There’s a couple of guys on that list, however, that have obviously taken the CR too seriously and have life-threatening anorexia (which the other list members realize and condemn). A more moderate list is the Yahoo Groups one, CRsupportgoup. It’s very welcoming of new members but is strictly moderated.

One of the big CR controversies is that Dr. Walford, who has practiced CR for years, is very ill with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But who knows if CR has any relationship to his illness. It’s an interesting subject…

I thought this was a joke thread. Isn’t ANY diet that results in you losing weight a “Calorie Restriction Diet”?

Two out of three have missed the point :slight_smile: . Yes, reducing calories reduces weight. However, the OP is talking about the potential for an already skinny person to extend their lifespan by reducing the calories taken.

So say that conventional wisdom says that a person needs 2,000 calories per day. If they only eat 1,000 then, according to this theory, they’ll live longer than they would otherwise have. Or something like that. Check out the FAQ in the OP’s link.

look up info on UCLA doc Ray Wolford. Google him. Might be walford.

That’s right, Bromley. The life extension-aspect is what I’m interested in. The quality of life factor is definetely important, but so is the quanity of life factor.

Apparently it is supposed to make you live longer… much longer.

Take the Okinawan example, for instance. They eat many fewer calories than the average American and live longer and healthier lives… and they have the highest percentage of Centurians on Earth. (No, not aliens from the evil planet Centar, but people who live to be 100 years old.)

The animal experiments do show a trend that calorie restriction leads to longer life. Rats for example outlive their normal life expectancy by 20% or more.

Applied to humans, this would be extraordinary. But if this is so true, then why isn’t it more talked about?

It’s not more talked about because it is still in the experiment phase. The rats live longer and are more active in doing so, but getting humans to demonstrate similar results over a period of time and for different people is going to take time. Also, humans don’t exactly make for great experiments because you can’t create a great double biong study and control all variables. Basically at the human level it’s all anecdotal evidence.

Now Wolford has some chimps or some monkeys under controlled conditions, but all the humans out there on Cal restriction are going to produce a lot of survery type data, or anecdotal evidence.

The basic gist is that (a) it’s not dangerous (if done properly) (b) it will very likely increase your lifespan © it’s almost universally agreed to be extremely difficult to stick to, which is why such an incredible minority of human beings are pursuing such a cheap, easy, method for living longer.

Good luck to those poor, skinny bastards.

The answer to this is probably buried somewhere in their huge FAQ, but I can’t understand how a human could do this for an extended period and live.

If you need 2,000 calories a day, and you only eat 1,000, you will begin to starve and your body will eat itself to survive. First fat, then muscle, then the other tissues… until you die.

Perhaps the goal of the diet is to gradually slow your metabolism down until you only need 1,000 calories a day. Jeez, you might live longer, but what kind of life would it be? (I see lots of lying down in your future)

I have recently shown that this is incorrect, cites included, about 32 months ago, due to slow connection I am not going to search for it. Basically it depends on what type of food you take in.

The diet mentioned in the OP seems like the old addage that has gone around since people started to get fatter. It sounds like a great way to feel deprived, sluggish and gain a bunch of weight in the long run.

I’d say that this is the crux of it–you DON’T need 2,000 calories a day. You can get by on less.

By doing so, you trigger all sorts of stuff in your body that causes you to live longer. The evolutionary logic is sound–if you can’t get enough food, it’s unlikely that (a) you’ll be able to bear young (women esp., who need lots of fat) or (b) that those young will have enough food to survive. You’re tricking your body into thinking you’re living in drought conditions, with scarce food. Best to keep you alive until the weather gets better and those kids have a chance of getting nice and fat.

Recent NYTimes article:

The mechanics of how Calorie Restriction extends life aren’t understood at all. But most of the people on it say they feel better and more energetic. And you can’t argue with the fact that Americans are fat and getting fatter, eat really crappy food, and anything that induces them to stop the cycle is good.

The diet is properly called CRON, Calorie Resticion with Optimal Nutrition. The foods eaten (extrememly nutrient dense, to stay healthy on a low calorie diet you must eschew empty calorie foods such as sugar and white flour) are a very important aspect. The point is not to consume half the calories you normally would, it’s to find the calorie level that will keep you at somewhere between 10 to 20% your natural setpoint. If your setpoint is somewhat high, you may not be particularly skinny at this point. If it’s low, you will look quite thin. (this has been demonstrated in the rat studies)

Go browse the email archives on the OP’s link. A lot of the people in the recent NYTimes and ABCNews aticles are on the list and feel their quote were taken out of context to make them sound like extremist wackos.

Anyway, I encourage anyone interested to thouroughly research the topic. Don’t just rely on the mainstream media reports which seem to emphasize the extremist aspect. Here’s an interesting article from Scientific American which concludes it works but is tough for humans to follow. But if you’ve got the self-discipline, why not try diet instead of hoping for some sort of magic pill?

It is proposed that calorie restriction prolongs life for one of two reasons:

  1. reduced digestion of empty calories reduces free radical damage (oxidation of cells), and increases anit-oxidents in your blood (protecting your cells)

  2. mild stress - such as that induced by just falling short of your calorie total everyday can stregthen the body and keep it tuned up for upswings in stress.