Calorie restriction (CR) is a lifestyle choice and not a diet. It should not be confused with restricted calories that might border on malnutrition. CR means restricting certain types of calories and maintain the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your good health. CR research has been ongoing since 1935. CR has been demonstrated in many laboratory studies to improve well being, weight, and lifespan.
Stress, oxidation, and inflammation impact health. Over time we age and become less able to do the things we want to do, Our quality of life decreases. You can add healthy and productive years to your life if you can effectively counter the daily effects of stress, oxidation, and inflammation.
A true CR lifestyle would be approximately 35% less than what is currently advertised by health professionals as the daily calories needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. CR is not fasting or starvation. The key to CR is maintaining optimal nutrition with reduced calories.
Nearly every nutritionist will tell you that you must eat 15 calories of food to maintain a specific weight. Hence, 1500 calories need to be eaten to maintain 100 pounds. On a CR lifestyle, you would eat about 1000 calories to maintain 100 pounds.
Calorie Restriction Mimetics
An alternative to calorie restriction is being investigated called calorie restriction mimetics (CRM). CRM addresses stress, oxidation, and inflammation issues without the reduction in calories. CRM foods or compounds interfere with the way cells process glucose.
Additionally, the increased caloric intake must ensure that the body’s maintenance and repair processes are not interrupted, and the effects of longevity and age-related diseases are reduced. Compounds that have been evaluated as possessing calorie restriction mimetics traits are resveratrol, green tea polyphenols, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), and branched-chain amino acids.
Calorie Restriction and Longevity
CR has been studied for years in the laboratory. Humans have a typical lifespan of 75-80 years. It is difficult to measure generations of humans adhering to CR for many reasons. As a result, medical researchers study biomarkers that show the progression of aging more slowly. Two of those biomarkers are lower body temperature and lower fasting insulin levels. The lower fasting insulin levels result in lower body fat.
The actual biochemical mechanism of CR is still being investigated. Laboratory studies project that
CR protects the body against oxidation and inflammation. The key to making CR an effective anti-aging and weight loss program is maintaining optimal nutrition with restricted calories.
Short-term extreme calorie restriction diets yield weight loss results. However, serious health issues developed, such as anemia, muscle atrophy, neurological deficits, and edema, when continued longer than six months.
Calorie Restriction and Health
It is critical to keep nutritional requirements met when using calorie restriction for health improvement and weight loss. CR with optimal nutrition has been shown to reduce body fat mass, reduce cardiovascular disease, and reduce the risk of diabetes. With an optimal nutritional lifestyle and restricted calories, the biomarkers of slowed aging improve – mitochondrial biogenesis, reduced DNA oxidative damage, improved blood lipids, improved insulin sensitivity, etc to name a few.
Calories Restriction – Nutrition and Eating
Nutrient-dense foods have a high nutrient to calorie ratio – they are rich in nutrients per calorie. A strawberry is nutrient-dense – comparing each calorie versus the vitamins and minerals present. Consume foods that provide energy, support tissue growth and repair, and help you to regulate your metabolism. Nutrients are found in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Leafy green vegetables provide some of the best nutrient value per calories of all foods. Colored fruits and vegetables are also high on the list. Berries are very low in sugar (lower in calories) and extremely nutrient-dense. Cellular repair requires the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, but also sulfur. Sulfur-laden foods include cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and non-cruciferous vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, etc.)
Amino acids are required for cellular support. Unfortunately, our bodies make only eleven of the twenty amino acids we need daily. Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fist are complete sources of protein. They contain all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies cannot make.
Most of us prefer to eat certain types of foods based on various diets (DASH, Mediterranean, Keto, Atkins, vegan, etc.).The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommended by the NIH (National Institute of Health) and the AHA (American Heart Association), provide nearly half the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of 27 essential micronutrients and completely void in another 15 essential micronutrients. The RDI is the daily level of nutrients considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 98% of healthy people in every demographic in the United States.
Diets are temporary. A lifestyle is what you do every day. Fats are high in calories and do not offer a wide variety of nutrients. Carbohydrates are the same – full of calories with little nutrient density. Be careful of the dietary choices you make.
Calorie Restriction – Fasting and Starvation
Fasting and starvation do help in the short-term. Fasting and starvation facilitate cell and tissue repair without interruption. Fasting and starvation initiate new cell generation as it deems necessary.
Fasting and starvation allow the body a brief respite from the energy demands of eating, digesting, assimilation, and elimination. That energy can be directed to improving your immune system, elimination of toxic waste products, and restoration of metabolic function.
Short-term results of fasting and starvation are good. However, without the nutrients needed to sustain and improve health, you may put your body in jeopardy. If you choose to enter into a long-term fast or short-term starvation diet, you should consult an experienced health provider knowledgeable in weight management. This is particularly critical if you are on prescribed medicines. Set a realistic goal for weight loss, and for the duration of your fast or starvation plan. Do not extend it yourself because the consequences can endanger your health.
If you do decide on a fasting regimen, it is critical to ensure that the actions you are taking are safe and effective. Juice fasting (fruits and vegetables) and herbal teas offer a better option than water alone. Electrolyte control is maintained better with juices than water alone. Any fast must have requisite daily vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Gum chewing introduces digestive enzymes into your stomach and can injure your stomach lining since there is no solid food (assuming a juice regimen). Deep breathing exercises help during a fast to provide fresh air to help cleanse your blood.
Water is needed during a fast to maintain proper hydration. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate. Fasting results in water loss before the fat loss. Over time, your body will lose fat on a fast. You need to be conscious of the likelihood of muscle loss during a fast. This is a point to talk to your doctor about to ensure that you do no physical damage during a fast.
Things of concern for your physician or health provider should be the prescription medicines and the other supplements that you may be taking. Contraindications of prescription medicines are known by most pharmacists and doctors, but the relationship of natural supplements and prescription medicines might not be as obvious. Particular attention should be noted with the following: curcumin, trans-resveratrol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, Ginkgo Biloba, and branched-chain amino acids.
Calorie Restriction Benefits
A CR lifestyle is a permanent choice – not a temporary fast or starvation program. CR lowers your blood pressure and pulse rate, lowers your body temperature, reduces free radicals and blood glucose levels and reduces your risk of chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease). CR improves your insulin sensitivity and DNA repair as well as increases muscle mass. CR stimulates BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and boosts your DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) levels. Calorie Restriction improves your memory, cognition, energy, and protein synthesis.