Do calorie-restricted diets equal longer life?


Years ago on the show, I talked about the theory that if you restrict your caloric intake, you might be able to stretch human life to 150 years.

The University of California’s San Francisco campus is experimenting with such a test on more than two dozen people from the United States, England and Japan. These people have agreed to undertake a calorie-restricted diet so scientists can see what impact their eating has on longevity. These folks are getting by on what would be 25% fewer calories than are necessary to maintain weight!

One guy from the study who was profiled in an Associated Press report is 35 and has just 150 lbs. on his 6-foot-1 frame. His body mass index (BMI) is now down to 19, and his body fat composition is 10%. That’s not a lot of weight on a guy of that height.

Now, I’m somebody who doesn’t miss meals. Granted, I eat less than I used to and I take in far fewer calories. But I’m just an average kind of guy with an average BMI. The idea of going on a starvation diet I just cannot imagine.

As modern people, we live a very different life and maintain different weights than we once did. I’ve been to Japan several times over my years and I’ve noticed the younger generation takes in so much more food and calories than the older generation did. As a result, the young are likely to be heavier and taller than they once were in Japan.

Of course, the question comes back to longevity. People who live particularly long usually tend to top out somewhere between 115 and 120 years these day. In theory, a person who takes in fewer calories over their lifetime could potentially best that by up to 30 years.

So that’s my question for you: Would you be willing to live on a near starvation diet in return for, let’s say, three extra decades of life? For me, the answer is no way!

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