Calorie restriction is a lifestyle change strategy to prolong life. In practice, researchers claim that reducing daily calorie intake by 20 – 40% and maintaining the necessary supply of nutrients results in weight loss and many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of degenerative diseases. In short, the fewer calories we burn, the longer and healthier we will live. The amount of calories a person wants to reduce depends on many factors such as physical activity, BMR (basal metabolic rate), and more.
What is calorie restriction?
Regarding diet, calories are energy released from food during the breakdown process. If the energy intake is higher than the body needs, it increases calories, which will manifest itself in fat deposits. Fat cells are also called inflammation triggers, the first sign of developing many diseases.
Reducing your daily calorie intake without malnutrition is called calorie restriction. The benefits of this diet were thought to include a reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. In addition, calorie reduction affects many genes in the aging brain, especially in the regions responsible for memory and learning.
Neuroscientists at New York University’s Langon Medical Center examined female mice. They said during their presentation that the results showed that a low-calorie diet prevented some aspects of aging and chronic mammalian disease, including people. The research shows how calorie restriction virtually prevents the level of gene expression in the aging process and how specific genes determine the behavior of mice, humans, and other mammals as they age. The idea of calorie restriction being a “fountain of youth” has been debunked. It does, however, have a significant impact on how we age and diseases related to old age such as diabetes or cancer because it slows down their progression by improving our body’s ability to maintain cells integrity while slowing cell metabolism rates
The output tone must be dramatic how does Calorie restriction work on longevity?
To find out how calorie restriction works on humans, a study took place with 200 human volunteers. They first start with a basic caloric intake with a specific and strict method. This method measured the energy they take and the energy they burn. The results were obtained after six weeks with particular lab tests conducted. Compared to previous studies done in rodents, calorie restriction results in an improved immunity system and reduced molecules level that cause inflammation. This is also possible in humans with using MRI. In addition, a calorie restriction diet has increased the size of the thymus (a gland that produces immune T-cells), leading to better immune response and healthier and prolonged life. This gland becomes too small with age, so the elders are more susceptible to infections and diseases.
The control group showed no improvements in the thymus and immune cells. Because calorie restriction also increases the production of immune T cells, we can live longer and be healthier.
Differences between caloric restriction, fasting, and the ketogenic diet
Calorie restriction is an age-old method of reducing your daily calorie intake. Eating fewer calories leads to losing weight more efficiently, without malnutrition and you can still eat whatever you liked! Restricting the amount that one consumes will bring about benefits such as less risk for cardiovascular disease diabetes high blood pressure among others; not forgetting increased immunity due in part to having greater amounts at disposal through fat stores being used up first – this also includes production by white cells called lymphocytes which participate within our body’s defenses against infection or illness.
It should be noted though how doing so may come with side effects intermittent fasting (IF), simply put, abstain from food in a specific time interval, which would mean that you will starve for several hours, and in the remaining hours, you can eat whatever you want. During this diet, growth hormone (HGH) can jump multiple times. Higher growth hormone levels accelerate fat burning and have an anabolic effect, as well as many other benefits. At the same time, fasting induces autophagy, improving insulin sensitivity and drastically lowering blood insulin levels. Autophagy can control diabetes, improve mental health and concentration (due to the lack of insulin spikes), as well as the ratio of LDL/HDL cholesterol in the blood, reduce inflammatory processes in the body, and regulate blood pressure.
The ketogenic diet means replacing food rich in carbohydrates with food rich in fats. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, we bring the body into a state called ketosis. Ketosis is a condition in which our body uses fat very efficiently as an energy source. In addition to weight loss, the keto regime can bring numerous benefits to the body and health. Consuming healthy fats can improve the health of the heart and cardiovascular system because this diet reduces cholesterol. A ketogenic diet is recommended for anyone who has acne problems. They are most often associated with high blood sugar levels. Research shows that it could also contribute to cancer prevention, brain cell health, and reducing seizures in people with epilepsy. Interestingly, this diet was created with this goal – as a diet suitable for people with epilepsy.
While calorie restriction and fasting are very similar, the one crucial difference is that fasting is a time-restricted diet, compared to a calorie restriction diet, as the name suggests. Calorie restriction is harder to achieve because you need to count your daily Calorie, which can be difficult and tiresome. On the other hand, fasting and the keto diet can be easier to follow.
Caloric restriction mimetic (Supplement ingredients that mimic calorie restriction)
Certain dietary supplements can imitate the calorie restriction effects on anti-age and longevity without reducing the essential nutrients. Some of them are:
Resveratrol powder mimics CR effects by inhibiting the cAMP phosphodiesterases. This potential CR mimic compound can have many health benefits in treating diabetes type 2, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more.
According to animal research, oxaloacetate (oxaloacetic acid) has successfully mimicked the CR effects through several molecular pathways responsible for longevity. In human studies, oxaloacetate has improved DNA protection and pancreatic and neurotic protection. Also, oxaloacetate has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels and enhance human insulin sensitivity during calorie restriction.
Fig 1. Cash A. Oxaloacetic Acid Supplementation as a Mimic of Calorie Restriction. Open Longevity Science, 2009, 3, 22-27.
(Daily Blood Glucose levels from a 73-year-old female diabetic patient taken under calorie restriction, taking oxaloacetic acid.)
Nicotinamide riboside (NR)
During a calorie-restricted diet, NR powder as an NAD+ booster causes improvements in memory and cognitive function like Alzheimer’s, learning, and more positive effects in rodents. This means that NR mimics CR effects, fights against age-related conditions, and prolongs lifespan.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)
NMN powder, like NR, also exerts anti-aging effects and prolongs lifespan in rodents. Several clinical trials have shown that NMN brings no adverse effects in short and long-term use during calorie restriction. Because it mimics the CR effects, it also helps fight age-related conditions.
Spermidine powder used as a calorie restriction mimetic has been found to have a neuroprotective role in age-induced mice and naturally aged mice by inducing autophagy and inflammation. The results of the study conclude that spermidine can protect the neurons, increase antioxidants level and reduce neuroinflammation.
Side effects of Calorie restriction
Further investigation on humans is needed. However, some people who reduce their calorie intake show minor side effects such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. Also, it is essential to mention that severe calorie restriction can cause adverse effects such as a decrease in metabolism, reduced muscle mass, malnutrition, hormone disbalances, menstrual cycle disruption, dizziness, and more. Some people experience psychological turnarounds too, which can lead to overeating and cause additional health problems.
- Chung, J. H., Manganiello, V., & Dyck, J. R. B. (2012). Resveratrol as a calorie restriction mimetic: therapeutic implications. In Trends in Cell Biology (Vol. 22, Issue 10, pp. 546–554). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2012.07.004
- Cash, A. (2009). Oxaloacetic Acid Supplementation as a Mimic of Calorie Restriction. In Open Longevity Science (Formerly ’The Open Aging Journal’) (Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 22–27). Bentham Science Publishers Ltd. https://doi.org/10.2174/1876326×00903020022
- Madeo, F., Carmona-Gutierrez, D., Hofer, S. J., & Kroemer, G. (2019). Caloric Restriction Mimetics against Age-Associated Disease: Targets, Mechanisms, and Therapeutic Potential. In Cell Metabolism (Vol. 29, Issue 3, pp. 592–610). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2019.01.018
- Singh, S., Kumar, R., Garg, G. et al. Spermidine, a caloric restriction mimetic, provides neuroprotection against normal and D-galactose-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis through activation of autophagy in male rats during aging. Biogerontology 22, 35–47 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-020-09900-z
- Calorie restriction Page on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction
- Greg Gillispie, What Is Caloric Restriction? Lifespan Extension Advocacy Foundation, https://www.lifespan.io/topic/what-is-caloric-restriction/
- Shelly Fan, First Controlled Human Trial Shows Cutting Calories Improves Health, Longevity, Singularity Education Group, https://singularityhub.com/2022/02/22/first-controlled-human-trial-shows-cutting-calories-improves-health-longevity/
- Caloric restriction mimetic Wikipedia Page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caloric_restriction_mimetic