What is Caloric Restriction?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Caloric restriction is a strategy that involves limiting the amount of daily caloric intake. Incorporated into a number of different types of diet programs, calorie restriction, or CR, attempts to determine the total number of calories an individual can consume and still maintain an optimum health and weight. Many supporters of this approach also believe that CR can help to extend the life span of the individual.

A caloric restriction diet typically eliminates junk food and other unhealthy options.
A caloric restriction diet typically eliminates junk food and other unhealthy options.

In many applications, caloric restriction begins by determining the current weight of the individual and how that weight correlates to the individual’s gender, body type, and height. This makes it possible to identify the general range of weight that is considered normal for that individual. Once this type of data is established, it is possible to identify the number of calories the person may consume each day in order to eventually reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Caloric restriction replaces empty-calorie foods with healthier ones.
Caloric restriction replaces empty-calorie foods with healthier ones.

Along with defining the total amount of calories, caloric restriction also involves redefining existing eating habits. The decrease in calories each day means the individual must focus on consuming foods that are more nutritious. Of necessity, that means limiting or eliminating high calorie foods that have little to no nutritional value and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain bread products.

Research has shown that the responsible use of low-calorie diets may affect longevity in a positive way.
Research has shown that the responsible use of low-calorie diets may affect longevity in a positive way.

Research into the effectiveness of caloric restriction indicates a number of health benefits. Eating smarter and staying within a specific number of calories each day can make a big difference in the incidence of elevated blood glucose levels, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Various studies indicate that limiting calories and eating foods that are high in nutritional value effectively lower the levels associated with all three conditions. For some people, this can mean being able to control these conditions with diet and exercise only, rather than having to rely on daily doses of medication.

Caloric restriction can also be helpful when it comes to managing problems with cholesterol. Along with helping to lower bad cholesterol, choosing to eat the right foods and remaining within the specified daily calorie range may also help promote energy levels and in turn make it easier to exercise regularly and elevate good cholesterol levels as a result.

Employing the proper use of caloric restriction can also help fend off obesity. Because it is necessary to minimize or eliminate junk food from the daily diet, this type of restriction prevents the consumption of empty calories while taking in foods with high levels of nutrients. The individual is likely to be more interested in physical activity, which in turn helps the body to turn stored fat into energy and gradually lower total body weight into a healthier range.

There is also some evidence that responsible caloric restriction can also aid in keeping the immune system healthy and fully functioning. Since the regimen requires focusing on consuming foods loaded with vitamins and minerals, the immune system constantly receives everything needed to function at optimum levels. As a result, it is easier to fight off viruses and deal with issues that threaten physical and emotional well being.

All the ongoing benefits of caloric restriction help to lead to a degree of longevity that would likely not result otherwise. Along with increasing the chances for a longer life, the responsible use of caloric restriction will also make those additional years more enjoyable due to the enhanced quality of physical and mental health.

Research shows that older adults who follow a low-calorie yet nutritious diet often experience better physical and mental health.
Research shows that older adults who follow a low-calorie yet nutritious diet often experience better physical and mental health.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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