Limited Caloric Intake - or Starvation?

Hello all -

 In the realm of diets for health or weight loss these days, I thought I had heard pretty much everything. Then I read about a guy that is pushing the limited caloric intake diet.

 This is a diet where you basically take in like 1000 calories a day (or well below what is normal). There all sorts of claims that this will lower blood pressure and drop your cholesterol plus allow you to live a long long life.

 That's what really gets me about the diet - it isn't being puished as a weight loos deal. It's being pushed for health.

 Correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds like it simply cannot be good for you...or is it? Does it work? And what kind of quality of life can you have being hungry all the time (and no - I don't think the hunger would go away or I would get used to it).

 Your thoughts?


You can become a captain of industry and rich beyond your wildest dreams, but to your family you’re still that dumb kid they tricked into eating a worm. - Dennis Miller

Not knowing the specifics of the diet plan I can’t say for certain, but one thing I know is you cannot simply take a number like 1000 calories and apply it to everyone.

First of all what kind of calories? You could eat one table spoon of mayo and wind up with 1/5 of your calories gone. Fat, carbs, protien calories?

Sounds like he is basically saying people as a whole eat too much empty calories and should eliminate them. Which is true. But can you give more specifics of the plan.

There have been recent studies where mice were fed on a severely restricted diet and lived much longer than the control group. This fella may be extrapolating from this, or similar data. Just goes to show the peril of getting your science from the newspaper, I guess.

Lots of people have tried to be healthier by severely restricting their diet. They are called anorectics. They don’t become healthier. Instead they die. Anorexia is more often fatal than breast cancer, for example. And, in fact, they usually don’t experience hunger in the normal way that you or I do. If they acknowledge any body messages at all they distort them as indications they should try harder at eating less.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

A long time ago, I went to this place called Physician’s Weight Loss Center. They started you out on a 700 calorie a day diet. You didn’t stay on that one for a very long time, though, just a couple of weeks. They gradually increased the caloric intake, and I think the max was either 1500 or 2000. If you stuck with the diet, it actually worked, and you felt good too. Lots & lots of weighing & measuring, though.

Cecil on metabolism and diet:

pluto’s got the straight dope on this. The study was done with mice (rats?). They lived longer. No human studies have been done, yet, though there are people trying it themselves to see how they fare.

The food they do eat is healthy food – veggies, fruits, and grains. No oreos or pork rinds. The food they do eat has sufficient calories and nutrients to live. They are not starving, they are not anorexic. They are slightly hungry all the time, though.

This was extensively covered on a PBS show on living longer that I saw.


This is also not a new concept. It has been commonly known (but not scientificaly proven) for some time that eating a nutrient-dense low-calorie diet can lengthen your life. Adherents also eschew smoking, alcohol, and other “vices”.

The recent rat study adds limited scientific corroboration. There is no reasonable way to study this in humans, though, and even if proven, I don’t expect McD’d, or 31 Flavors to go out-of-business in my lifetime.

One interesting twist on this - it is common practice in other countries to fast once in a while. I had several German co-workers who fasted amywhere from once a week to once a month. Muslims fast during daylight hours for Ramadan (about a month IIRC). Catholics used to partially fast (one meal/day) during Lent, but this changed over the years so that only Ash Wednesday & Good Friday are fast days now. In Germany, it is done for health “purification” reasons, while the other examples are religiious in nature. But the fact remains that our bodies are quite adaptable in the amount of food required for maintenance, and most of us want much more than we need.

Sue from El Paso