Recently on Oprah, medical guru Dr. Oz discussed the benefits of purposefully restricting your daily caloric intake in order to add more years to your life. A calorie-restricted diet also lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat, all of which, when they are high, are linked to a host of diseases. In fact, Dr. Oz says calorie restriction is the number one way doctors say we can extend longevity.
“The data that we have in rodents and some larger animals now indicate you can probably extend your life expectancy by up to 50 percent potentially from doing this,” says Dr. Oz.
So exactly what is calorie restriction? On a calorically-restricted diet you are reducing the amount of your daily calories by 20 to 25 percent, by consuming foods that are nutritious, low in calories and unprocessed. Tons of fruit, vegetables and moderate amounts of protein with small amounts of fat comprise the basic features of the calorie restriction way of eating; while sugar, processed foods, most saturated fats, flours and some grains are avoided.
But as Dr. Oz points out, it has to be done carefully, or else you run the risk of becoming underweight, deficient in certain vitamins as well as experiencing bone and muscle loss, anemia and increased susceptibility to infections. In fact, several studies have shown that being underweight (BMI of 18 or below) actually increases mortality of non-cancer-related deaths and decreases the immune system resulting in more colds and infectious diseases.
For a typical woman on a calorie restriction diet, calorie consumption might be around 1,400 calories a day; while for the typical male, calorie consumption might be around 1,800 or 1,900 calories each day. As you replace calorie-dense foods with calorie-sparse, but nutrient-rich, foods research shows that you can lose weight and slow the process of aging.
Since a lot of the research on calorie-restricted diets have been done on animals and rodents, some medical professionals are very cautious about recommending this style of eating for everyone. But almost all medical and health professionals commend the diet for its abundance of fruits and veggies and its dearth of processed foods, sugars and fat-laded meals, which unfortunately make up the typical American diet.
To see the calorie-restricted diet in action watch this video clip from Oprah.