Calorie Restriction: Our Future?

November 29, 2011

Already in several posts we have mentioned the concept of calorie restriction but we never went into much detail about it.
In fact, even if I had a general idea, there were still some technicalities about it that I ignored. I mean, when you’re talking about restricting calories, to what extent should you limit your food intake on a daily basis?
We know that you should be careful with what you shovel down your throat and that overeating is never good but what worried me is that there is always a fine line between being healthy and unhealthy: you want to restrict but not missing on necessary and precious nutrients.   
With that idea in mind I did some research and found quite a bit of literature on the topic.

The definition

First thing I found out is that there is a clear-cut definition of calorie restriction diet: “A calorie restriction diet aims to reduce your intake of calories to a level 20-40% lower than is typical, while still obtaining all the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
In other words ,the perfect calorie restriction diet is the one where you cut out some food intake but still reaching optimal nutrition level.

How to adopt calorie restriction in real life?

What exactly we want to take out? Well, that’s where it gets a little bit tricky. Calories restriction practitioners around the globe have accumulated experience over the years through experimentation.
This means that today we can draw some tips from this knowledge. I have to tell you, if you’re interested in the topic there are a lot of good books that you can read.
There’s also a huge community online that addresses newcomers questions and can help them adopt the best practices for calories restriction.
However, a mild calories restriction is as easy as adopting a much healthier diet, taking a few selected supplements and not eating snacks.

What are the pluses of calorie restriction?

The claim is that calorie restriction proves to extend healthy and maximum life span in primates.
According to some animal studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown up to a 40% increase in maximum life span.
Other secondary benefits of calorie restriction include a lowered risk for degenerative conditions of aging, and improved measures of general health.
In recent years, many researchers claimed that the evidence to date shows that calorie restriction will extend the healthy human life span, but watch out because a consensus has not yet been reached on this topic.
Truth is that there is still a lot of debate around calorie restriction and even if all researches conducted so far point in the direction of extending life span there is no overall consensus.

Calorie restriction and weight loss

Weight loss is mentioned in the context of calorie restriction. But most of the literature on it stresses out that weight loss is not the primary goal of calorie restriction, however reality is that if you eat fewer calories you will eventually slim down.
All nutritionists agree that being overweight, or carrying excess body fat, is harmful to your long term health in many different ways.  Excess weight increases risk factors for conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer to Alzheimer's (most likely due to the relationship between fat cells and chronic inflammation.)
Also, being overweight will likely result in having a shorter, less healthy life: many recent studies suggest that even comparatively little excess weight is bad for you over the long term, significantly raising your chances of suffering a range of age-related conditions.
This means that some of the health benefits of calorie restriction will derive for loss of weight and body fat.
Also, calorie restriction may also be related with the controlling mechanisms of metabolism.

Calorie Restriction and Paleo Diet

Since I started researching on the topic I thought to myself that there were quite some similarities between calorie restriction and the Paleo Diet.
Calorie restriction is all about stop eating a lot of highly processed, rich, modern foods; which is exactly what the Paleo Diet advocates.
If you’re considering switching to a calorie restricted diet you might want as well look into the Paleo Diet as it makes a great introduction into calorie restriction.

How to get started?

If, at this point you’re interested in calories restriction and want to know more about it I suggest you should read “The Longevity Diet: Discover Calorie Restriction”.

It’s the 101 book on calorie restriction: a practical guide that will guide you through the process.
Also, you might want to take a look at the Calorie Restriction Society website, and gather as much information as possible: Another great website is, there you'll find many interesting articles however it's really technical and it might prove hard to read/understand.


As we always stress out on TheIronYou before embarking on any change in diet aimed at improving your health it’s always wise to consult with your physician, especially if you have a medical condition. Remember there is no substitute for taking personal responsibility in health and research!

The Iron You


  1. Practically, this means dieting for the remainder of your life...