Dear Dietitian – Calorie-Restricted Diet?

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Published Saturday, May 12, 2018
PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
by Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian,

I just read an article that said a permanent 25-30% reduction in caloric intake produces anti-aging benefits and results in a longer lifespan.  Is this true?

--Seth

Dear Seth, 

Let us first define anti-aging.  It is not fewer wrinkles unfortunately; rather, it is slowing down the aging process by decreasing disease. Studies have been performed on animals in which their caloric intake was decreased by about 30%, and the result was a longer lifespan.  But does this transfer to humans?

The CALERIE study (Comprehensive Assessment of Long- term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) involved over two hundred healthy, non-obese people. This group decreased their caloric intake by about 25%, so a 2000-calorie diet became a 1500-calorie diet. The results were compared to a control group that maintained their regular diet (AL for ad libitum). At the end of two years the calorie-restricted (CR) group had lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels than the AL group, thereby reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke.  However, this study fell short of positively linking calorie restriction to longevity.

Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels can be achieved by maintaining a healthy weight, following a heart healthy diet, and regular exercise. This can be done with consistent, moderate behavior changes.

This type of study is difficult for the simple reason that it is difficult to maintain a 25-30% calorie reduction over time.  There is a small segment of the population who would be willing and able to do this. I am NOT among them.  It begs the question, "Is it worth it?"  I believe we are meant to enjoy our food - all of it.  

Sincerely,

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian with over fifteen years of experience. Have a question?  Email Leanne at DearDietitian411@gmail.com.