The goal of the calorie restriction diet is to slow aging and extend lifespan rather than just to lose weight. This restriction sets your body at an ideal weight to achieve maximum metabolic efficiency, slow the aging process and reach a maximum life span. Weight loss is a side benefit of the calorie restriction diet.
The foods that are encouraged are lots of vegetables, some fruit, low-fat protein (e.g., lean beef, turkey or chicken, fish, low-fat dairy, soy and egg whites, etc.) and good fats (e.g. nuts, avocados and olive oil). Restricted foods are foods with empty calories, such as highly processed cookies, crackers and other snack foods and sweets.
The Calorie Restriction Diet was developed by Dr. Roy Walford who spent more than 35 years studying anti-aging diets in his lab at the UCLA Medical School. It is one of the few diets based on scientific evidence. In his book, Beyond the 120 Year Diet, Dr. Walford describes the CR diet as a means to create food combinations and menus with all the recommended nutrients but with minimal caloric intake.
Some time-tested ways of controlling hunger and sticking with your goals are:
- Filling up on bulky foods which are high in nutrients but low in calories (such as most vegetables and fruits)
- Choosing carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (most starchy foods and dried fruits have high glycemic indexes, while most vegetables and fruits are low glycemic)
- Identify “problem” foods and either do not keep them around, or buy a specific, small amount each week to enjoy at a pre-determined time, as a reward for sticking to your CR eating plan
- Adding a little fat to a meal lowers the GI and releases satiety hormones, which can help control appetite. On the other hand, fat is a very Calorie-dense nutrient. Experiment with your diet to find the right the balance for you.
- Eat your foods raw or only minimally cooked.
- Social reinforcements … such as interaction with members of CR Society on the mailing list. Other CR practitioners can be a real source of emotional support and practical tips, and most can attest personally to the tremendous health and other benefits of CR.
What about eating out or holidays?
Choose restaurants that offer healthy menu options. At fast-food places, choose salad bars, and fill your plate with mostly veggies. For protein, go for egg whites, fish, chicken or turkey breasts, low- or fat-free yogurt or milk. Use olive oil, vinegar and pepper as dressing. More and more fast-food places are making the caloric and other nutrition information available in their restaurants or online; take advantage of these resources. Subway’s salads, 7 Low Fat Subs, and Low Carb Wraps made with ham, turkey, chicken breast, tuna salad, seafood, or crab salad are a huge step toward true CR fast foods.
For parties and holidays, if possible, follow the same “rules” as for restaurants. To reduce appetite, one can also pre-eat before scheduled events. With company, one can then simply munch on servings from a vegetable platter or other low-Calorie or healthy food options.
Sample Daily Menu:
Breakfast: scrambled tofu with one slice of mixed-grain bread and half a grapefruit
Lunch: one bowl of vegetable salad, which has dried chickpeas, brown rice, wild rice, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, mushrooms, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, zucchini and cabbage with a dressing of non-fat yogurt, buttermilk and balsamic vinegar served with a slice of rye toast
Dinner: ½ cup of millet with ¼ cup of peas, 3 ounces of oysters cooked with ¼ cup of onions, 2 stalks of steamed broccoli and 1 cup of steamed collard greens
Snack: ½ cup nonfat yogurt with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
The bottom line is eating fewer calories while assuring adequate nutrition. Simply keeping one’s portions small, avoiding second helpings or, perhaps, skipping one or more of your other meals when planning to attend a party are all strategies that CR dieters can successfully implement.
A drawback to this diet is that most Americans are accustomed to ‘super-sizing’ everything as well as having high-calorie snacks available 24 hours a day. It would be difficult for them to sustain long-term calorie restriction. Also, people have emotional attachments to ‘comfort foods’ as well as food addictions, and these can be hard to break. This diet is not intended for people with eating disorders as calorie restriction may cause a lapse in their issues with food.