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 the presence of fewer wrinkles and looking younger. Rather, it is slowing down the aging process by decreasing disease. Studies have been performed on animals whose caloric intake was reduced by about 30%, resulting in a longer lifespan. But does this transfer to humans?
The CALERIE study (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) involved more than 200 healthy, non-obese adults. One group of participants (CR) was assigned a diet with a 25% reduction in calories, so a 2,000-calorie diet became a 1,500-calorie diet. Interestingly, the CR group achieved an 11.9% calorie decrease instead of the assigned 25% reduction. The results were compared to a control group that maintained their regular diet (AL for ad libitum).
At the end of two years, the CR group had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels compared to the AL group, thereby reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke. Improved insulin sensitivity was another benefit found in this group. Not surprisingly, the CR participants also enjoyed about a 15-pound weight loss during the two-year period.
The CALERIE study results show moderate calorie reduction over time will likely improve health. However, it fell short of positively linking calorie restriction to longevity.
Until next time, be healthy!
LEANNE McCRATE, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian with more than 17 years of clinical experience in the hospital setting. Her mission is to educate the public on sound, evidence-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her at DearDietitian411@gmail.com.