Can the Calorie Restriction diet slow the aging process and promote weight loss? 

Salmon sushi (photo by adactio (CC-BY)

Salmon sushi (photo by adactio (CC-BY)

The Calorie Restriction diet, also known as the Longevity Diet, is gaining a fair amount of attention for its potential role in promoting greater health and slowing the aging process.

The intent of the Calorie Restriction diet is to eat highly nutritious foods in a caloric range which sustains health while maintaining a lower-than-average weight. Followers typically strive to take in an amount of daily calories 20-40% lower than what is typically recommended for those of similar stature.

The primary goal of those who follow caloric restriction diets is to promote health and longevity as opposed to emphasizing weight loss. Calorie restriction is far more about health than appearance. Followers may not be appreciably thinner than those who eat an average diet. However, weight loss can be a positive side effect for individuals who need to shed excess pounds.

The potential health benefits of eating fewer calories than the body actually needs gained attention when researchers found that reduced calorie intake correlated with lower mortality rates.

Most of the recent studies regarding the health benefits of calorie restriction have been performed on animals or insects.  However, research using human subjects has turned up some interesting results. A recent study, for example, found that calorie restriction can boost memory in aging adults.

True devotees of the Calorie Restriction diet cut their food intake quite radically. Followers express both pros and cons, from euphoria, healthy skin and reduced illnesses to consistently cold extremities and fertility problems. Scientists are still in limbo about the long-term benefits to aging, but remain open and research is ongoing.

For those individuals with an interest in the potential health and longevity benefits of calorie restriction, the tenants of the diet can be followed without going to extreme measures.

A milder version of the Calorie Restriction diet plan involves eating foods that have a high nutritional value in relation to the percentage of calories. Lean proteins like meat and fish, vegetables, fruits and grains are the primary food items in the diet. Calories should be kept in the minimal range with attention to whole foods and supplements that will maintain an adequate level of necessary nutrients. Daily calories can be adjusted to activity levels, fluctuating between lower intake on days of rest and a higher intake when activity is elevated.

The Calorie Restriction Society has more information and dietary recommendations

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