Caloric Restriction In Humans

Caloric restriction works for humans. This isn’t much of a surprise, since it works for a bunch of other mammals, but Luigi Fontana and collegues at Washington University of St. Louis examined 18 people who’d been on a CR diet for an average of six years and they were healthier on pretty much every index. What this means for runners is less clear – artificially reducing caloric intake when burning at a high rate results in bonking (at best) or more serious disorders (anorexia, bone loss, depression). Nonetheless, of interest.
Additional info: There were 18 people in the study, 15 of them men, who on average had been on the CR diest for six years. Ages ranged from 25 to 82. They took in just over four-fifths the calories that the controls did (“controls” = regular people with regular diets). Complex carbs accounted for 46% of their caloric intake. Their body fat was 9% (with that age ranged, the expected average for a 50-mile-per-week runner would be 12%. For more on the diet, check here.
As an aside, it’s possible that the benefits for many of the higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diets have nothing to do with insulin response or ketosis as much as with caloric restriction, since people tend to eat many fewer total calories when eating elevated levels of protein and fat.
Original research reported in Proc. National Academy of Sciences (vol.101, p. 6659); from New Scientist (Apr 24-30 2004). (Additional material from Science Vol 304 p. 514) (4/27)

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