The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity

The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity
4.86 (97.28%) 81 votes

Though a bane for dieters, a slower metabolism may actually be a good thing.

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Though a bane for dieters, a slower metabolism may actually be a good thing. We’ve known for more than a century that calorie restriction can increase the lifespan of animals, and the metabolic slowdown may be the mechanism. That could be why the tortoise lives 10 times longer than the hare. Rabbits can live 10 to 20 years, whereas “Harriet,” a tortoise evidently collected from the Galapagos by none other than Charles Darwin himself in the 1830s, lived until 2006. Slow and steady may win the race.

One of the ways your body lowers your resting metabolic rate is by creating cleaner-burning, more efficient mitochondria, the power plants that fuel our cells. It’s like your body passes its own fuel-efficiency standards. These new mitochondria create the same energy with less oxygen, and produce less free radical “exhaust.” After all, your body is afraid famine is afoot, and so, it is trying to conserve as much energy as it can.

The largest caloric restriction trial to date indeed found both metabolic slowing and a reduction in free radical-induced oxidative stress—both of which may slow the rate of aging. The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. But whether this will result in greater human longevity is an unanswered question. Caloric restriction is often said to extend the lifespan of “every species studied.” But that isn’t even true of all strains within a single species. Some scientists don’t think calorie restriction will improve human longevity at all; others suggest a 20 percent calorie restriction starting at age 25 and sustained for 52 years could add 5 years onto your life. Either way, the reduced oxidative stress would be expected to improve our healthspan.

Members of the Calorie Restriction Society, self-styled CRONies (for Calorie-Restricted Optimal Nutrition), appear to be in excellent health, but they’re a rather unique self-selected bunch of individuals. You don’t really know until you put it to the test. Enter the CALERIE study, the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy, the first clinical trial to test the effects of caloric restriction.

Hundreds of non-obese men and women were randomized to two years of 25 percent calorie restriction. They only ended up achieving half that but lost about 18 pounds and three inches off their waists, wiping out more than half of their visceral abdominal fat. That translated into significant improvements in cholesterol levels, triglycerides, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressures. Eighty percent of those who were overweight when they started were normal weight by the end, compared to a 27-percent increase in those who became overweight in the control group.

In the famous Minnesota Starvation Study that used conscientious objectors as guinea pigs during World War II, the study subjects suffered both physically and psychologically, experiencing depression, irritability, and loss of libido. The subjects started out lean, though, and had their calorie intake cut in half. The CALERIE study ended up being four times less restrictive, only about 12 percent below baseline calorie intake, and enrolled normal-weight individuals, which in the U.S. these days means overweight, on average. As such, the CALERIE subjects experienced nothing but positive quality-of-life benefits, with significant improvements in mood, general health, sex drive, and sleep. They only ended up eating about 300 fewer calories than they were eating at baseline. So, they got all these benefits—the physiological benefits, the psychological benefits—all from only cutting about a snack-sized bag of chips worth of calories from their daily diets.

What happened at the end of the trial, though? In the Minnesota Starvation Study and calorie deprivation experiments done on Army Rangers, as soon as subjects were released from restriction, they tended to rapidly regain the weight, and sometimes even more. The leaner they started out, the more their bodies seemed to drive them to overeat to pack back on the extra body fat. In contrast, after the completion of the CALERIE study, even though their metabolism was slowed, they retained about 50 percent of the weight loss two years later. They must have acquired new eating attitudes and behaviors that allowed them to keep their weight down. After extended calorie restriction, for example, cravings for sugary, fatty, and junky foods may actually go down.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Though a bane for dieters, a slower metabolism may actually be a good thing. We’ve known for more than a century that calorie restriction can increase the lifespan of animals, and the metabolic slowdown may be the mechanism. That could be why the tortoise lives 10 times longer than the hare. Rabbits can live 10 to 20 years, whereas “Harriet,” a tortoise evidently collected from the Galapagos by none other than Charles Darwin himself in the 1830s, lived until 2006. Slow and steady may win the race.

One of the ways your body lowers your resting metabolic rate is by creating cleaner-burning, more efficient mitochondria, the power plants that fuel our cells. It’s like your body passes its own fuel-efficiency standards. These new mitochondria create the same energy with less oxygen, and produce less free radical “exhaust.” After all, your body is afraid famine is afoot, and so, it is trying to conserve as much energy as it can.

The largest caloric restriction trial to date indeed found both metabolic slowing and a reduction in free radical-induced oxidative stress—both of which may slow the rate of aging. The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. But whether this will result in greater human longevity is an unanswered question. Caloric restriction is often said to extend the lifespan of “every species studied.” But that isn’t even true of all strains within a single species. Some scientists don’t think calorie restriction will improve human longevity at all; others suggest a 20 percent calorie restriction starting at age 25 and sustained for 52 years could add 5 years onto your life. Either way, the reduced oxidative stress would be expected to improve our healthspan.

Members of the Calorie Restriction Society, self-styled CRONies (for Calorie-Restricted Optimal Nutrition), appear to be in excellent health, but they’re a rather unique self-selected bunch of individuals. You don’t really know until you put it to the test. Enter the CALERIE study, the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy, the first clinical trial to test the effects of caloric restriction.

Hundreds of non-obese men and women were randomized to two years of 25 percent calorie restriction. They only ended up achieving half that but lost about 18 pounds and three inches off their waists, wiping out more than half of their visceral abdominal fat. That translated into significant improvements in cholesterol levels, triglycerides, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressures. Eighty percent of those who were overweight when they started were normal weight by the end, compared to a 27-percent increase in those who became overweight in the control group.

In the famous Minnesota Starvation Study that used conscientious objectors as guinea pigs during World War II, the study subjects suffered both physically and psychologically, experiencing depression, irritability, and loss of libido. The subjects started out lean, though, and had their calorie intake cut in half. The CALERIE study ended up being four times less restrictive, only about 12 percent below baseline calorie intake, and enrolled normal-weight individuals, which in the U.S. these days means overweight, on average. As such, the CALERIE subjects experienced nothing but positive quality-of-life benefits, with significant improvements in mood, general health, sex drive, and sleep. They only ended up eating about 300 fewer calories than they were eating at baseline. So, they got all these benefits—the physiological benefits, the psychological benefits—all from only cutting about a snack-sized bag of chips worth of calories from their daily diets.

What happened at the end of the trial, though? In the Minnesota Starvation Study and calorie deprivation experiments done on Army Rangers, as soon as subjects were released from restriction, they tended to rapidly regain the weight, and sometimes even more. The leaner they started out, the more their bodies seemed to drive them to overeat to pack back on the extra body fat. In contrast, after the completion of the CALERIE study, even though their metabolism was slowed, they retained about 50 percent of the weight loss two years later. They must have acquired new eating attitudes and behaviors that allowed them to keep their weight down. After extended calorie restriction, for example, cravings for sugary, fatty, and junky foods may actually go down.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This is part of my video series on calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and time-restricted eating. Next up is Potential Pitfalls of Calorie Restriction.

The rest coming out over the next few months are:

If you don’t want to wait, you can watch them all now on a digital download.

If you’re watching this the day it comes out, there are two days left to register for my 3rd and final fasting webinar, Fasting and Cancer, here.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

120 responses to “The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. This video is titled “The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity” yet it is just a snippet from the long video on the intermittend fasting and weightloss webinar.

    It only speaks about longevity briefly before continuing and ending on the subject of weight loss. This video should obviously not be titled CR for longevity but for weight loss.

    C’mon Nutritionfacts, you can do better!

    Because this video was recorded earlier it still has the old fomat without Dr. Greger in it.Things are much easier to follow.

    1. Netgogate,

      The study itself was called, “New Perspectives on the Biology of Aging” and it was aging, which was the focus. Yes, they looked at biomarkers, and weight loss was included, but most of this video was about longevity.

  2. When Dr G mentioned the lifespan of the Galapogos tortoise, it reminded me of the previous video on metabolic rate and longevity where the number of heartbeats per lifetime was found to be similar for many animals, especially mammals. “The number of heartbeats per lifetime is remarkably similar, whether you’re a hamster, all the way up to a whale.”

    It’s fascinating that we are all “given” approximately 3 Billion heartbeats per lifetime regardless of other factors, except for disease and accidental death, of course!

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/finger-pulse-longevity/

    The videos before and after also expand on this topic.

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/slowing-metabolism-nitrate-rich-vegetables/

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/slow-beating-heart-beans-vs-exercise/

    1. It is obvious fake news . In the original video at the 1.16 mark there is a graph that shows how long different animals are expected to live after they used up their alotted lifetime heartbeats . Problem is if you do the math it does not work . A simple internet search will give you heart rates of various animals , do the math .
      A horse for example should live at least twice as long as a human . I certainly hope not all Dr Gregers research is that sloppy.

    1. Barb, Your 48 bpm sounds great! My smart watch tells me I have a 50 bpm during sleep. It’s probably around 60 at rest during the day. Like you, I don’t need to lose weight and have fairly low BP, and I do eat a lot of greens, beans, and beets for those wonderful nitrates!

    2. Obviously there is something here. A more sure footed approach is to use the high fiber, whole food, plant based way of eating. This too is a calorie restriction way of eating because the high amounts of fiber intake block the uptake of excess calories into our body. With WFPB eating you can eat the bottoms out of ten pound bags of potatoes and still stay within good BMI range. The over whelming experiences with dieting is going from the biggest loser to worse off than where you were before. A good mantra may be to Eat, eat, eat to your ultimate delight—just do it WFPB with lots of fiber–and stay skinny as a rail.

      1. There is a growing body of evidence that your microbiome will influence whether or not eating lots of starch with fiber results in weight loss or weight gain…sadly some folks have a microbiome that is extremely efficient at harvesting calories compared to lean folks who literally dump calories when they defecate. Take home message: your mileage may vary.
        An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest.
        Turnbaugh PJ1, Ley RE, Mahowald MA, Magrini V, Mardis ER, Gordon JI.
        Author information
        1
        Center for Genome Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63108, USA.
        Abstract
        The worldwide obesity epidemic is stimulating efforts to identify host and environmental factors that affect energy balance. Comparisons of the distal gut microbiota of genetically obese mice and their lean littermates, as well as those of obese and lean human volunteers have revealed that obesity is associated with changes in the relative abundance of the two dominant bacterial divisions, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes. Here we demonstrate through metagenomic and biochemical analyses that these changes affect the metabolic potential of the mouse gut microbiota. Our results indicate that the obese microbiome has an increased capacity to harvest energy from the diet. Furthermore, this trait is transmissible: colonization of germ-free mice with an ‘obese microbiota’ results in a significantly greater increase in total body fat than colonization with a ‘lean microbiota’. These results identify the gut microbiota as an additional contributing factor to the pathophysiology of obesity.

        1. Moms,

          Your microbiome can change if you change your diet. There are several videos about the microbiome on this site; here’s one example:

          “If whatever gut flora enterotype we are could play an important role in our risk of developing chronic diet-associated diseases, the next question is can we alter our gut microbiome by altering our diet? And the answer is — diet can rapidly and reproducibly alter the bacteria in our gut.”
          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-change-your-enterotype/

          Also, people aren’t mice. Something we often forget. Observations in mice may, but also may not, apply to humans.

      2. Dan, where did you hear that fiber blocks the uptake of excess calories? I don’t ever recall anyone making that claim before, and if it were true, weight loss outfits would be pushing fiber like crazy.

    3. Most of my life my resting rate has been in the low 40’s with no adverse symptoms. My age is 76 now and am still in the low 40’s but am a bit light-headed when I stand after sitting a while. Wearing a monitor for a week, it was discovered my rate dipped down to 27 – probably while sleeping. Yikes.

      They say heart rate is like a golf score. Lower is better – as long as it’s not zero.

      1. Richard,

        My uncle who is in his 90’s has started having that. His doctor wants him to get a pacemaker and he is confused about whether to do it. He is still independent and living in his own house and has been driving but he just had to give up chess from the beginnings of dementia possibly related to poor blood circulation.

        Getting old is not for sissies, is what he always says.

    1. and toxins and heavy metals and animal protein… they also pack a pretty heavy punch of ocean depletion and overall devastation to the planet, animal cruelty to the sardines and a plethora of other life–one particular example being the starving seals due to depleted sardine populations–and disruption of an intricate ecosystem. The best way to get selenium, coQ10, vitamins D, E, B12, niacin, phosphorus, omega 3, and zinc is a WFPB diet supplemented with B12. In fact, having greens in your system reactivates CoQ10 in sun exposure. And as for phosphorus, animal sources of phosphorus is not good because we absorb it too much. Too high levels of phosphorus can compete with calcium (going on memory) but it isn’t something you have to worry about with plants which, while loaded with phosphorus, is more healthfully less bioavailable.

      Bottom line, if you want longevity, the science is readily available and it’s a WFPB diet. Thus Dr. Greger’s book “How Not To Die.”

    2. That wasn’t so smart in my case, Smarty. I inched my way to a whole unprocessed plant food diet over a period of several years. Eventually I was eating nothing but plants and one tin of sardines a week. The results: NONE! But then when I had the inspiration to drop the sardines and take vitamins B-12 and D-3 instead, I lost 20 pounds, started sleeping much better, felt less depression, experienced my IBS and Benign prostate enlargement clear up,found that I wasn’t catching colds or sore throats any more and unbelievably, that small bald spot on the crown of my head that had recently started developing, reversed itself. Whatever poison is in sardines, it was powerful enough to block the benefits of a WFPB diet.

  3. It would seem that the CALERIE study had the better results in this video. I recall they aimed for a 25% reduction in daily caloric intake, got closer to only 12% in reality, but had a mess of benefits over the two years of participation.

    What I would like to know is: what categories of foods were “cut” in the experimental group to get the CR. Since the worst of junk foods typically have the highest calories, and I would guess most of the test subjects ate the typical SAD going into the study, did those of the experimental group swap out junk food for veggies and fruits to get the 12% drop in calories? IOW, if the test subjects were all vegans of “normal” weight going into the study and then were subjected to a 12% CR, would the results have been equally as impressive?

    1. dr cobalt,

      I think that your proposed study of vegans, or better yet plant based whole food eaters, would result in a lot of hungry participants!!

      But I like your questions. Especially given Dr. Greger’s comment that the study “enrolled normal-weight individuals, which in the U.S. these days means overweight, on average.” Which makes me wonder: What is a “healthy” weight, compared to a “normal” weight?

      1. In the 1940’s, young men of military age were as a group lean since junk foods weren’t readily available back then and home cooked meals were the norm. And as we can see from the photo, calorie restricting them resulted in emaciation. On the other hand the more recent study was done on today’s junk food and cheeseburger-stand noshing crowd, which means they and body fat to loose. No wonder the results were better. It’s interesting to compare the body types in films from the 30’s and 40’s with those produced since the 70’s. You’ll find that the earlier generation looked much trimmer.

    2. Dr. Cobalt,

      That is a great question.

      My question would be if someone started just eating properly in the first place and was a healthy weight, would calorie restriction just mess up their metabolism and might not benefit them at all?

      By that, I mean is it just keeping your biomarkers good versus the calorie restriction itself?

      For instance, Dr. Ornish had telomere’s improving on his diet – are these things the foods eaten or the calories restricted and I suspect it is the foods.

      1. I would think that someone who grew up eating The Starch Solution or Nutritarian or and of the other doctors’ diets, might be better off not messing up their metabolism?

        Or is it messing up the metabolism that lowers the resting heart rate?

        1. My thoughts on it are that it probably isn’t the calorie restriction at all.

          For instance, my friend just lost 50 pounds on a combination between Gundry and Keto and ended up with the worst lab results her doctor had ever seen, but she lost 50 pounds pretty quickly and definitely used calorie restriction and is trying to improve her mitochondria.

          My father uses intermittent fasting and eats a lot of cheese and meat and desserts, but does do calorie restriction by skipping meals so that he can eat whatever he wants.

          There are anorexic people who are not improving their longevity and I could put some of the fruitarians who shut off their menstrual cycles by calorie restriction.

          There are people who are doing calorie restriction using Slim Fast or other shake programs – is that going to get them the longevity of the Adventists?

          1. There are people who do calorie restriction getting rid of the plant foods and they do things like the ice cream diet and that immediately tells me that it depends on what you cut out will be the answer.

            1. We have people on this site who have said that they eat 80 to 90% butter and that would be a calorie restriction diet, which is aimed at Ketosis to have the mitochondria get renewed. Longevity or no longevity?

              1. I also am thinking that the only way they did the calorie restriction and got them to keep it off would be improving the fiber and calorie density or going into Ketosis because that is why WFPB and Keto are chosen because people don’t get the hunger rebound.

                1. My next question is whether there are any Blue Zones using calorie restriction rather than eating healthy foods?

                  Because things like Keto are more theoretical longevity and I enjoy listening to Dr. Longo, but it is still theoretical longevity and unless that group has a lot of very elderly people, it still is theoretical versus Whole Food Plant-Based, which came out of watching people groups who were living long lives.

                  Americans figured out how to live into their 70’s and 80’s with seriously crappy diets and with Big Pharma and all that jazz, and that is already pretty amazing to me.

                  1. I say all of this because it is health-oriented Whole Food Plant-Based people who will be deciding whether to lower their calories from where they are and I don’t know if it will mess up their metabolism and cause them to be hungrier.

                    1. The calorie-restriction logic is what intermittent fasting and Keto is using. Dr. Longo, Dr. Fung, Dr. Seyfried, etc. This video is in their zone. Versus Dr. Lisle, learning to eat intuitively and allowing your stretch receptors to tell you when to stop eating and allowing that intuitive process to bring you to an ideal weight.

                    2. I can use Krocks in the Kitchen. They haven’t counted calories at all. When they did the all potato diet, Brian tried to prove Dr. McDougall wrong by trying to eat too many potatoes to lose weight as his focus, but he still lost 10 pounds.

                  2. I believe that the Okinawans follow a cultural rule-of-thumb that advises eating until one is 70% full and then stopping there. That seems to be something along the lines of calorie restriction, measured rather subjectively, of course.

                    1. Maureen,

                      But the Okinawans are the ones who lost their longevity by switching what they ate and they might be the “proof” that calorie restriction alone doesn’t work.

                    2. Yes Maureen, the Okinawans are said to be prime example. Leaving ‘room’ at the end of their meal is calorie restriction. Dr Mirkin is a big fan of this idea in it’s many forms and cites studies showing positive effects.

                      Deb, I have never seen anyone on this site claim they eat a diet of 8o% butter? Just a visitor? Anyway, the studies I have seen (and there are lectures at uctv/health on this topic) specify that calorie restricted diets are designed to be nutritionally adequate, but 25 % or so lower in calories.

                    3. She said she went from vegan to Keto and that she and her husband finally lost weight.

                      She had switched to following Dr. Hallberg who suggests 80 to 90% of the calories from fat, so I asked her if she was doing her calories from coconut oil and she said, “Butter.”

                      She didn’t say it in a complete sentence. It was a conversation during the Keto videos. She had not lost weight going vegan and switched to Keto.

                    4. I will add on the Adventists.

                      For males, the lower BMI vegans won the longevity race.

                      For females, the lower BMI vegans came in third.

                      They still had longevity, but the benefit didn’t continue versus the fish eaters and dairy, who were also probably within a fairly good BMI.

                    5. Actually, it’s a general Japanese rule of thumb:”hara hachi-bu” meaning ‘stomach 80%’.

                    6. Deb (for some reason there seems to be a limit on replies and there was no reply button under your name):
                      >>>But the Okinawans are the ones who lost their longevity by switching what they ate and they might be the “proof” that calorie restriction alone doesn’t work

                      No, the Okinawans are not a counterexample, quite the opposite.
                      Cf. e.g.
                      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5859391_Caloric_Restriction_the_Traditional_Okinawan_Diet_and_Healthy_Aging_The_Diet_of_the_World's_Longest-ived_People_and_Its_Potential_Impact_on_Morbidity_and_Life_Span

                      “They did not eat a lot of calories on their traditional diet (and keep in mind that the oldest old among the Okinawans and the Japanese lived through the WW II and most had little to eat and so were very calorie restricted). When the younger Okinawans started adopting a SAD diet, they undoubtedly increased calories, although I have not check out the difference. ”

                      Undoubtedly, when the younger Okinawans (and the Japanese in general) started adopting a more SAD-like diet, they increased their calories as well as their mortality risk.

                    7. Deb (again there’s no reply buttons) and apologies to Maureen Okun,

                      My last message got messed up b/c my quoted cut-and- paste pasted the wrong material (stuff I meant to delete). Here is the information from the link I sent.

                      “Therefore, we investigated six decades of archived population data on the elderly cohort of Okinawans (aged 65-plus) for evidence of CR. Analyses included traditional diet composition, energy intake, energy expenditure, anthropometry, plasma DHEA, mortality from age-related diseases, and current survival patterns. Findings include low caloric intake and negative energy balance at younger ages, little weight gain with age, life-long low BMI, relatively high plasma DHEA levels at older ages, low risk for mortality from age-related diseases, and survival patterns consistent with extended mean and maximum life span. This study lends epidemiologic support for phenotypic benefits of CR in humans and is consistent with the well-known literature on animals with regard to CR phenotypes and healthy aging.”

                    8. Gengo,

                      Did they gain weight because I know Keto and carnivore people who aren’t gaining weight.

                      My whole point was if they were moderation and didn’t overeat, they could maintain their weight and maintain calorie restriction on any diet.

                      I have 90 year old relatives eating ice cream every night and my uncle has not gone up even one pound eating meat and pizza, etc. he has a scale which tells his doctor on him if he does gain even a pound.

                      I have several moderation Not overweight eat any food they want people around me. Honestly, that is the most successful weight maintaining diet around here and they don’t reserve meat for once a week, so I guess it is the calorie restriction not the food after all. I hadn’t been thinking about it, but that is what I see. All of the very elderly around me eat meat and fish and cheese and junk food and drink alcohol moderately.

                      They would be my Blue Zone.

                    9. Deb,

                      >>>Did they gain weight because I know Keto and carnivore people who aren’t gaining weight.
                      Actually the average BMI of men has risen and that of women has declined over the last several decades as they’ve adopted a more Westernized diet and lifestyle.

                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639362/ Changes in body mass index by birth cohort in Japanese adults: results from the National Nutrition Survey of Japan 1956–2005 “The BMI in all male age groups increased from the 1891–1900 through 1971–80 cohorts. However, in women, the figure increased until the 1931–40 cohorts, but later decreased. ”

                      https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/03/11/national/science-health/obesity-on-the-rise-as-japanese-eat-more-western-style-food/#.Xai9rZJJFII

                      >>>My whole point was if they were moderation and didn’t overeat, they could maintain their weight and maintain calorie restriction on any diet.
                      I have no doubt that in principle they could, but it would seem more difficult not to overeat on an animal-centric diet.

                      Note too that as expected, a more traditional Japanese diet generally results in better health: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/149/7/1245/5487581 The Japanese Dietary Pattern Is Associated with Longer Disability-Free Survival Time in the General Elderly Population in the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study

                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29710042 The 1975 Type Japanese Diet Improves Lipid Metabolic Parameters in Younger Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30502656 Effects of the 1975 Japanese diet on the gut microbiota in younger adults.

                    10. I never thought about it before tonight.

                      I have a SAD diet Blue Zone group in my family and my friends’s family and my sister-in-law’s mother is edging 90 and is SAD.

                      I also have SAD diet relatives who have died young.

                  3. Yes. The Okinawa Japanese (before KFC moved to the island, when it was a Blue Zone of longevity) practiced eating until 80% full. It was a cultural norm. They also ate predominantly plants.

        1. Barb,

          Thanks for posting that.

          I watched that video and when Dr. Greger’s foods that raise metabolism to aid in weight loss comes around, I am hoping he will explain whether the slowed metabolism is only better for the low BMI people or for everybody. For instance, the Biggest Losers slowed their metabolism, but couldn’t maintain their weight loss. In this study, 50% of the people had already gained it back in 2 years. Does the lower metabolism still help them? Many of them may gain the weight back over the next 2 years, did the slow metabolism for those years cause enough benefit to make it worth gaining the weight back, plus some?

          1. From what I have seen in life most people who focus on calorie restriction do gain it back and that isn’t anecdotal, that is statistics, plus life experience. Even 50% in that “good results” study already had gained it back within 2 years.

            I am all for WFPB, but I am not sold on calorie restriction yet because I have still never met one person who succeeded that way, except names on the internet.

            1. Let’s say that 50% of people fail. (Though I would think MORE failed, just that it might have taken 6 years, similar to the Biggest Loser)

              Does THAT reality factor into whether it benefits longevity?

              Is it a tossing a coin type of benefit?

              Maybe people who can genuinely handle being hungry all of the time and not eat do okay and the ones whose ghrelin wins get worse through calorie restriction?

              Is there a logic to my thoughts?

              1. Fruitarians are the group which seems to often fail at WFPB.

                Some ridiculously end up carnivore at the end.

                When people try something they are more likely to fail, that becomes a question about starting to begin with.

                1. The Okinawans are not the only thin Japanese. Again is it diet or calorie restriction?

                  Maybe the 80% rule would be to offset the calories of the meat and oil? Would be another question.

                  Back to the good results study, do every SAD dieter get the same improvements in labs?

                  1. Every dieter around the whole world is probably doing calorie restriction.

                    Every SAD dieter does it.

                    Is it the Seinfeld joke about taking a reservation versus keeping it?

                    1. Or is it that I get a little bit of longevity benefit from each time I restrict my calories and if the number of days restricted beats the number of days not restricted maybe I will get a few months longevity?

                      I ask sincerely because they always said that YoYo dieting hurt longevity and nobody knows whether it is a YoYo process until they gain the weight back and do it again.

                      Is it more longevity or less for having tried it over and over again?

                    2. I would think if it was genuinely mitochondrial benefits that there would be a benefit and the more dieting the better, even if you fail over and over again.

                    3. So every diet I ever went on I improved my mitochondria.

                      And, no, I am not challenging Dr Greger for posting the study, these are REAL questions obese people already talk about because of how many times they tried and failed.

                    4. I wonder if they have ever tested the mitochondria of anorexics or bulimics?

                      Bulimia is a way of calorie restriction where people chew and spit it out or vomit it up. I realize that they have health problems, but is their mitochondria improving?

          2. Thanks Deb. ok, This link is for the lecture on calorie restriction given by the head of the Society for CR. At approximately 22 min in, he us asked a question by a woman like myself who barely eats 1450 calories and asks if that is calorie restriction. They eat healthy foods. Check it out!
            https://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=18566

            Also, re the Biggest Losers, Dr Greger mentioned in his last video (?) that they gained weight back because they chose to eat crap again. He said they could have maintained weight loss with just 20 min exercise if they kept calories under 3,000. (i am going by memory here and have to check but it was a heck of a lot. ) People seem to think they can just lose the weight then go back to spagetti and doughnuts and stay slim. Uh, no.

      2. From things I’ve seen discussed, calorie restriction is done by either fasting like the 2-5 diet or time restricted eating intermittent fasting where people try to eat (all their calories whatever they want ) only during certain 6 hour window. The real benefits are suppose to be from autophogy , apoptosis that happens during longer fasting as the body targets the weakest cells for destruction. Then the faster build back of lean muscle and even organs. The reduction of oxidative stress and a couple other pathways associated with aging that happen when we eat or have too many calories.
        I’m exited to see the upcoming videos.

    3. An actual doctor would know where to look for and would read the study for those details.

      I never trust anyone who claims to be a doctor of medical comment boards because these same type of people often are priests on religious discussion boards, a soldier on any military discussion boards, etc.

  4. I have heard the plant docs say it’s better to be at the lowest bmi range within the normal weight group.

    Great questions dr cobalt. Although interesting to read about, I find that I rarely get the same results as the studies describe since we are starting from wfpb .I would like to try the 5:2 diet though and see what happens in january 2020 blood work.

  5. What ever I do I am 10 lbs over weight. No medical conditions HR around 55-60 all blood markers good. My problem with calorie restriction is
    I’M ALWAYS HUNGRY AND ALL I DO IS THINK ABOUT FOOD. Minor problem. I think my problem is I’m too short for my BMI…;^)
    mitch

    1. Are you eating a low fat, “Starch Solution” based WFPB diet? Potatoes, corn meal, beans, whole grains, oats, pumpkin, veggies and fruit. Eat as much as you want and be lean.

    2. Mitch,

      I understand.

      I spent much of my life doing calorie restriction processes and gaining the weight back, plus some from hunger.

      I think the Whole Food Plant-Based either Starch Solution or Eat to Live Nutritarian are two fairly good approaches to try.

      Dr. Doug Lisle would be someone to listen to if you go Starch Solution direction.

      Also, watch a Calorie Density YouTube video.

      HelloNutritarian is a good site if you choose Nutritarian.

      Mama Sezz food delivery has a “guaranteed weight loss” bundle. I think it is $169.

      Even going Whole Food Plant-Based hasn’t automatically caused me to lose weight at all.

      Even Whole Food Plant-Based, no oil, no grains, no starchy vegetables or root vegetables, no smoothies or juices, no nuts or avocado didn’t cause me to lose weight, but I have kept fidgeting with things and I am starting to lose weight. Very slowly.

      Somehow, increasing my intake of watery fruit and more brothy type soup along with an hour of exercise has finally tipped the scales.

      Without any hunger or food focus.

      It has not been easy at all, but 2 years later, I finally am seeing small results.

        1. Ruth,

          So far, watermelon, pineapple, oranges, apples, and mangos.

          I can only tell you that there has been a change.

          Over 2 months ago, I had stopped nuts and avocado and got rid of my green tea latte and started walking on a treadmill at the gym, plus a tiny amount of resistance exercise, but hadn’t had much weight change in the 2+ months.

          In fact, I gained a pound or something.

          Then, I added in 3 servings of watery fruits and a McDougall cup of soup and lost that pound back, plus, 2.2 pounds and I am losing ounces at a time now.

          I will let you know next week if there is another whole pound change by next week.

          Next week, I will be switching from Nutritarian to food delivery NO-SOS, Chef AJ approved meals, to see if I can do this process cheaper and in a less time-consuming way. Yes, saving money buying food delivery sounds counter-intuitive, but I spend so much on produce and spend so much time driving back and forth to Whole Foods and spend so much gas for that and end up eating so late that I think meal-delivery might cause me to eat earlier and might save me hundreds of dollars and give me some free time and it may help with portioning my comfort foods. When I was cooking things like chili, I probably ate too much of it.

          That is a 2-week experiment, but if I lose weight on it, I might be switching to meal-delivery for more of my meals.

          I haven’t cooked any foods for so long, I have pretty much just eaten salads with lots of veggies and hummus since March, but I didn’t lose weight, so it may be worth going back to things like chili and rice and beans and lentil loaf and those foods were comfort foods for me.

          My brain really can’t wrap around this whole thing.

          I can only tell you that I lost 2.2 pounds adding in watery foods.

          Portioned delivery meals are what I test next week.

          1. Thank you Deb.
            But let me also say that all I was interested in was the fruits you found helpful. I’ll try to be more explicit next time that I don’t need a lot of extra information. thank you.

              1. Joe – You might have and I respect that. You are free to ask your own questions and engage in your own discussions.
                I can only read so much. And when someone posts a lot I cannot take it all in. I only have so much time in my life.
                So I try to be concise.
                I am not judging or critiquing. I am only stating what is useful for me.
                Thank you.

    3. Mitch – Your comment struck a cord with me. I have that same experience – I am always hungry. And to all of the critiquers out there, let me say at the get-go that, yes, I eat a WFPB diet a la McDougall, et. al. and have for over a decade.
      So, Mitch, what I have found for myself is that I can finish a meal and feel like I could eat it all over again even after waiting 1/2hr (or whatever). I have what feels like an insatiable desire to eat. I felt this way when I ate SAD as well as WFPB. And I, also, struggle with my weight as I never feel satiated until I have over-eaten so much that I am now in a food coma like a beached whale. This is something I’ve had to work with my entire life and I appreciate your comments. That sense of feeling hungry is a constant in the background no matter what my dietary style or program.
      But I’d like to share with you an interesting comment from a co-worker over 20 years ago now. She would eat her lunch – a calorie-correct amount for her and her slim physique. But she would always chew gum after her lunch because, as she said, “I know I don’t need to eat any more but I don’t feel like I’m done chewing.” She wanted to chew more and her “chew desire” was not satiated by her sandwich. I’ve thought about her comment over the years and tried to check in with myself about how I am feeling when I am feeling hungry just after eating. I do think this desire to chew is a part of my hunger constellation. Gum sticks to my dental work. But I do try to have things around that I can chew on. Fennel seed is a great one. Perhaps others have other suggestions. But also, I think that we are close to the chimpanzee (as our genes show) who eat and graze all day long. So I think our hunger drive is deeply built in and mixed with our chew desire. I just have to find a way to satisfy it. I also eat a lot of salads to help me with my hunger-chew-desire. Like you, I am about 10 lbs from where I would like to be despite my normal BMI. I just feel better when I’m 10 lbs down from where I am now.
      Anyway, . . I just wanted to share with you, Mitch, some observations, experiences, and thoughts about feeling constantly hungry. You’re not the only one! :-)

      1. Ruth, your comments above resonated with me in some way. Recently I had a bunch of basil sitting on my counter in water. I started to peel off a couple leaves and chew them. To me, chewing basil is not a delight despite how good it tastes in recipes. However, I got some real satisfaction from chewing the leaves and went back for more later off and on as I went about my day (and the next.)

      2. Ruth, I believe this is why many smokers gain weight when they quit. During mealtimes, the smoker feels increasingly stronger urges to smoke and finally reaches a point where the desire for a smoke overwhelms the desire to keep eating. The smoking habit becomes the punctuation that ends the meal. When the smoker quits, there is no ‘punctuation so to speak, no end point, and they keep on eating.

        1. Barb, yes I agree. I have not smoked for 40 years but did smoke way back when. Quitting, for me, had a lot to do with what to do with my hands, fingers, mouth…….i.e., it was a physical issue. Hand-to-mouth. When I decided to work on quitting I also decided that I was not going to worry about gaining weight and eating, chewing, gnoshing, and needing to do something with my mouth. I promised myself I would quite smoking and then worry about losing weight later. One thing at a time. So that’s what I did and it took 4 years for me to be completely quit.
          These habits take time to change and some of us will need “crutches” as we go along. The best thing I did for myself was to give myself a break. And when I fell off the wagon and smoked when I shouldn’t have, I didn’t berate myself. I just started again with my plan to quite and see it through. And I did it – 40 years ago now.
          Change takes time and patience.
          Thanks for your thoughts.

    4. mitch, You stand in good company. Dr Kim Williams, past president of American College of Cardiology, remarked during a video taped conference that with wfpb, he eats a large meal, and is hungry again in an hour… always hungry. I was happy to hear I am not the only one!

      1. Me too, 100% WFP diet. Eat lots of calories from whole grains and nuts/seeds and always hungry. But I am also slightly underweight and exercise several hours per day.

  6. I don’t understand. Based on this video, I don’t understand the dietary recommendations for babies and old folks. There, we are strongly encouraged to focus on energy density (‘add butter’; ‘add ghee’ at every meal). It doesn’t make sense. What am I missing here – I don’t get it???

      1. Barb, thank you for your very informational links. I enjoyed them and feel less confused about this.
        I got my information at scheduled infant check-ups and from government-issued pamphlets and websites in our country. I also read up on care of the elderly where the consensus was an emphasis on energy density and adding spices (apparently old folks can’t taste anything!?).
        The reasoning behind adding butter was that infants and old folks don’t otherwise eat enough for their own good. So it was presented as a necessity.

  7. There is a book about the entire Calorie Restriction diet called “The Anti-Ageing Plan” by Dr Roy L Walford M.D. . He was the person responsible for the diets of the people who also were sealed inside the Arizona Biosphere back in the late 80’s. He is who pioneered most of the work on this subject with humans.

  8. There is a lot of good research out there regarding fasting, water only, intermittent and some of the benefits imbued. Although I see a whole foods plant based diet as the best diet to consume, there does appear to be some benefits regarding autophagy and other benefits to being able to reduce cancer risk by allowing the body to clean house so to speak with calorie restriction and/or fasting of some sort. Let’s face it, fasting is an adaptation that allowed humans to evolve and move around without being tied to food sources like monkeys.

    1. The important thing to remember is the NET benefit or detriment to a food item. Egg whites are very high in sulfur containing amino acids like methionine which cancer cells thrive on, so I avoid egg whites 100% due to the potential risks. What you eat is up to you though.

  9. 105 year old Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara had longevity by eating a light spartan diet. He consumed a small amount of animal products 3 times a day. You should try it sometime. Don’t believe studies funded by who knows who but rely on centenarians and proof.

    1. Yerky,
      It’s true the Japanese eat small amounts of animal products, typically at every meal. They are taught to “eat a little bit of everything”. The traditional Okinawan diet includes small amounts of fish and pork. It is also true that most long lived Blue Zones populations eat some animal products. But this does not show it is necessary to eat animal products to live a long time or optimize health over a long time. There are vegan centenarians, too. Look at the Adventist vegan males, for example (as Deb has pointed out several times). The main problem with eating small amounts of animal foods in recent times, ethical issues aside, is that factory farming and environmental pollution are tipping the risk/benefit ratio in favor of greatly limiting or eliminating animal foods. Some of my in laws in Japan have quit eating fish because of the contaminants found in fish. Keep in mind that the centenarians alive today were not exposed through most of their lifetime to the same level of environmental toxins as are younger people.

      There is more than one way to be healthy.

    1. “Not for this no-longer spring chick who never had a weight problem for lo! those many years.”
      – – – –

      And, yes, who does eat some animal products.

    2. YR, Good ole Rowan & Martin! A really funny show back in the day. I, too, was wondering what’s with that couple in the lead-in shot. If they’re a couple, why are they sitting so far apart? If not a couple, then what are they doing in what appears to be a very isolated (but scenic) place? Maybe it’s just me … I tend to wonder about a lot of things ;-)

      1. It’s always good to be curious, Darwin. Me too. Keeps us young ‘n all that. “So many questions, so few answers.”

        It’s possible they’re a many-years married couple. When together for so many years, they often think “Give me some space, already!” Good to have apart time. :-)

        (P.S. The following R&M video of the the so-called wedding day is a real howler, too. Tiny Tim and Carol Channing were also in that skit. Yep, I always looked forward to that TV show.)

    1. I’ve read that a low platelet count can be improved by eating foods high in folate and protein such as beans. In general, foods highest in nutrients can also help, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables. You may have to supplement with zinc and Vitamin B12 however, since B12 isn’t in a vegan diet and zinc can be low unless you’re careful.

    1. I’m with S on the sardines. Did you notice that she said by eating sardines, there are less for other animals who naturally eat them?

    2. Brian,
      You should watch “What a Fish Knows” by Jonathan Balcombe, PhD. The video was recorded in June of 2017 on the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii’s website.

    1. LGK, Well for one thing, plants are not animals! Hard to take anyone seriously who mixes them up. For another, there is no evidence that plants are sentient but fish are. But it’s pointless to discuss a serious topic with someone so puerile.

  10. I can’t wait until Flashback Friday gets rid of this topic.

    It deeply emotionally affected me.

    I ended up driving to Whole Foods even though I didn’t need groceries and started looking at vegan junk food and bought a chocolate peanut butter Hope bar and honestly considered if there was a way to do bulimia without throwing up. I haven’t had thoughts like that since my freshman year of college when I did try it for a semester. I think it was like the ghost of every diet past and the fact people are hungry scares me that this is just a diet like any other diet. It felt hopeless because it already hasn’t worked and I suddenly wanted chocolate and peanut butter.

    1. And, no, I am not going to do bulimia or go carnivore or go back to dairy, but I realized tonight that dieting is the most traumatic thing left in my whole life. There is such futility to it.

      1. I realize that yesterday morning, I hung up my clothes and realized that I have had the same clothes probably for 15 years and I think I thought I would have had to replace them over these past 3 years, but another season changed and I still wear the same clothes.

        I don’t know whether it is time to just acknowledge that I am probably not going to succeed with this process.

        I was afraid of the part of the YoYo where you come back up, but I didn’t know I wasn’t going to go down. It might be time to do an accept what I cannot change and not get emotional about it or work so hard at it.

        1. Dear Deb, I hope you have patience with yourself and with the process. For years as a SAD eater, I tried dieting. It was decades later that I found the WFPB way of life and lost 30 lbs. There is just some little piece of the puzzle that you will learn some time. Be patient and keep searching. Look at Chef AJ; it took a long time for her to learn. We can learn, too.

          Virus-free.
          http://www.avast.com

          Virus-free.
          http://www.avast.com

          1. Liisa,
            YES! Wholeheartedly concur!
            Deb, look at Chef AJ… and go to drmcdougall.com and read about OTHER Star Mcdougallers (Chef AJ is one… Check out Ruth Heindrich!) Shop 1x/wk. 90 min exercise/day.

        2. Dearest Deb, My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there. I would be so happy to work with you, no charge, to figure this out. I will contact NF staff and see if they can email you my contact information. Self compassion.

  11. Dear Dr Gregor,

    I have been following a diet high in antioxidants (implementing a number of your recommendations, Amla powder, hibiscus tea, turmeric, berries, cruciferous vegetables, etc). However, I have not been able to find a rebuttal in his videos or book to the “too many antioxidants can actually be bad for you”. I’m other words, we are quite certain that drinking orange juice is much better than sugar water in not “spiking oxidative stress”. However, is it necessarily better to drink a smoothy containing amla powder, tumeric powder, cranberries, hibiscus tea, other berries, spinach, etc? Could such a massive amount of antioxidants actually be counterproductive?
    Looking forward to the reply as I have been taking the latter approach for some time now!
    Many thanks,
    Nicholas

    1. Watch the processing. Juicing is bad. Those that drink juice have higher rates of diabetes while those that eat fruit have lower rates. All the evidence points to the fact that eating an unprocessed plant based diet results in the longest healthiest life, not by eating supplements or functional foods. Studies with supplements of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants universally show either no reduced rate of death or increased risk of death. In other words supplements don’t help and often are hazardous to health as in you can have too much of an antioxidant or vitamin or mineral.

  12. Losing weight is not Rocket Science. All you have to do, regardless of what you eat, is eat half of what is served you and you are guaranteed to lose weight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This