Restricted Calorie Diet: What You Need to Know

strawberriesCalorie restriction diets may not sound fun but these very reduced calorie diets are all the rage right now, particularly as Americans look to the starting line of the New Year to make 2021 the year to finally the lose weight.

Calorie restriction diets, or CR for short, not just promise weight loss, but also recent research has suggested that reducing calories over the long-term may slow the process of aging, reduce risk of certain diseases and cancers and extend lifespan. In fact, the science is so potentially powerful and hopeful that one of largest studies investigating this eating plan, the CALERIE study, just wrapped up a two-year investigation of the prolonged effects of calorie restriction on adult Americans.

While most of us find eating less for the rest of our lives as about as appealing as The Grapefruit Diet, there are thousands of individuals who are strong advocates of this sparse diet, and there is even the Calorie Restriction Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to understanding and promoting the CR diet.

Known as a respected source on calorie restriction, here are five of the Calorie Restriction Society’s main precepts of the CR diet:

1. Replace calorie-dense food with calorie-sparse and nutrient-rich foods: Think tons of water-based vegetables and fresh fruits. Lettuces, carrots, peppers, leafy greens, cucumbers, squashes, berries, watermelons, apples, oranges and scores of other fruits and veggies are the cornerstone of the CR diet. The idea is to reduce your calories by 25 percent of your normal diet. So if you eat a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, you’re going to knock down your intake to about 1,500 calories.

2. Abstain from simple sugars and flours: These calorie-dense and nutrient-void ingredients are ubiquitous in the American Diet, but must be avoided when following the CR diet because of their energy punch and their ability to wreak havoc on insulin levels.

3. Carefully select proteins and fats: Proteins and fats are essential nutrients for receiving the benefits of the CR diet, but they must be chosen carefully, particularly in the case of fats, which are incredibly nutrient-dense. Lean chicken, lean fish, low-fat dairy, soy and eggs are CR-approved protein sources and nuts, avocados and olive oil are the go-to fats. But once again, portion control in regards to both protein and fats is essential.

4. Plan your meals around your lifestyle: One of the hallmark features for anyone who follows the CR diet is the flexibility in which they restrict their calories. For some, they may eat the standard three meals a day, which are comprised of tons of leafy, low-calorie vegetables as a way to keep calories down yet also satiating the appetite. For others, they may eat only one meal a day and fast for the rest of the day while others graze on small, nutrient-rich and low-calorie mini-meals.

5. Health, not weight loss, is the overarching goal: Calorie Restriction advocates reduce their calories not because they still want to look great in their high school jeans. While this is a fabulous consequence of the diet, improving health, staving off disease and living longer are the greater motives that inspire those to follow and stick with the CR diet.

Even though much of the research on Calorie Restriction diets has been limited to animal studies, health and medical experts like Dr. Oz have discussed their enthusiasm over the idea that reducing calories may be the veritable Fountain of Youth. In our culture of bariatric surgery, weight-related illnesses, childhood obesity, diabetes and super-sized everything, the less is more mantra of the restricted calorie diets may just be a behavior that many of us should consider.

If you are the slightest bit intrigued about restricted calorie diets, check out’s review of  The Calorie Restriction Diet and the Longevity Diet, two of the most well-known, popular and well-respected restricted calorie diets.

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