This is a true “calo-restricted meal. Austere, possibly bland, and maybe a bit unfulfilling, but the benefits of it can be astounding. What’s exciting to know is that these benefits of profound calorie restricted meals can be made available to you – without most of the restriction part – if you know how.
Check this out.
People in the “Life extension” arena are very familiar with the term “calorie restriction with adequate nutrition” or CRAN, which is a dietary modification that goes way beyond simple weight control and fitness; it has long been studied as a way to dramatically increase the life expectancy of the species tested. The results have been consistent and very impressive. What was merely an eye opening surprise in tests on fruit flies and rats in the 1920’s became true cause for excitement in the 00’s when dogs, cows and even primates showed the same dramatic beneficial overall effect. The enthusiasm built when it was shown that even smaller reductions in caloric consumption (20-30% or so) showed similar if somewhat reduced results.
The best news was yet to come. We now have supplements called “calorie restriction mimetics” that can provide many if not most of these results. These are very impressive indeed. Calorie restricted individuals can expect to see:
- A dramatically extended lifespan. In animals tested a 25-50% increase was commonly observed. Human studies are still in the early stages (because of the time involved) but many of the similar benefits are seen and great extensions are expected.
- Increased, more economic production of ATP, the body’s energy currency. This goes hand in hand with another observed benefit – a beneficial effect upon the mitochondria, the organelles where our energy is produced.
- A powerfully enhanced immune system. On nearly all animals tested the onset of diseases commonly associated with aging have been delayed or reduced. This shows that calorie restriction does not merely extend the years, it does so by slowing the aging effect.
- Increased and better hormone function. Another sign of delayed aging.
- Weight loss, delayed sarcopenia ( bone-muscle loss with aging) increased energy, all symptoms of the maintenance of a more youthful state – way into the later years.
These are all obviously highly sought after goals for many of us, calorie restriction is on of the most reliable and best documented ways to achieve them. So how can we realize these without severly restricting our portions and our satisfaction with our meals?
First we should use the methods I and other advocates recommend for limiting the size of the servings we dole out at mealtime. As many of my posts will illustrate this can be done gradually with very little pain or effort if you give it a bit of time. All calorie restriction diets in general recommend a 500 or so reduction, this is not such a dramatic change, yet it represents a drop of 20% in a diet of 2500 calories. If this can be maintained in as in a lifestyle adjustment the benefits described above will logically show up over time. (Of course this might not apply if your starting point is 4000 calories per day! You have to get down to a natural consumption level first.)
Second, there are those calorie restriction mimetics we spoke of. Resveratrol and Pterostilbene, polyphenols found in grape skins and in blueberries and other fruit – are well known cran mimetics. Quercetin, a flavonoid in apples and onions is likewise one, and it also works synergistically with the others by increasing their bioavailability. Another recently discovered mimetic with very strong effects is Fisetin which is found in limited amounts in strawberries and a few other sources. Like the others it delivers powerful antioxidant effects, protecting DNA and cell membranes, etc. Fisetin also maintains high levels of Glutathione that all important free radical quencher we discussed a few weeks ago.
These calorie restriction mimetics are available in a normal healthy diet as you can see. However if you wish to experience effects similar to that experienced by profound calorie restricted subjects it will be necessary to use supplements that contain the isolated ingredients in elevated quantities. This is cheap, easy and painless to do – I have been popping them for quite some time as part of my general protocol. You can find them at any health store.
An interesting recent finding from the lab – published in the journal Cell Metabolism (studies) showed that regular exercise may be a synergistic protocol to maintain if you wish to experience the full benefit of calorie restriction. This came as no surprise to me, of course. I have always maintained that the habits of good health work together, after all, it’s what mother nature intended. 🙂