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New to CR, have 4 basic questions


Lucius
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Hey everyone!

I first heard about CR from Dr. Greger from NutritionFacts.org yesterday in these two videos: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-benefits-of-calorie-restriction-for-longevity/ and https://nutritionfacts.org/video/potential-pitfalls-of-calorie-restriction/

I haven't even read any posts on this forum but the diet sounds intriguing so I have a couple of questions that I would like to have answered before I start diving deeper into this topic.

  1. What percentage of calories restricted is assumed to yield the greatest benefits while being safe?
  2. Are there any known adverse effects that everyone or at least most people suffer from when eating this diet?
  3. How do you keep restricting calories forever without starving yourself to death? I'm assuming that at some point, your weight must drop so low that you can't restrict any further without putting yourself in danger and you have to start eating a maintenance level. If my assumption is correct, what is this ideal weight when you stop restricting and start eating a maintenance level?
  4. What about cardio exercise and strength training. Are you not allowed to do either of those because they would require you to eat more calories than is necessary?
Edited by Lucius
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1. Don't try going on a CR diet right away.  Eat A LITTLE less food, with fewer calories.  Improve your diet slowly, begin to check your nutrient consumption -- using e.g. the free CREN-O-METER app.  Do not try to lose more than a pound of weight weekly.

2.  When a male gets onto fairly strict CR, he tends to lose the (normally very strong) sex desire -- it significantly decreases (I remember a time when I had to disappoint several females when I lost interest).

Females that are on extremely strict CR stop having periods.  But their menopause actually occurs later than ad lib.  (A CRONnie female who wants to have a baby goes off the diet, until after the little one is born.)

3.  Don't worry about it. 

4.  Exercise important -- especially aerobic.  Strengthening exercises should be at most mild to moderae for the reasons that you correctly mention.

(When I was tested by Luigi in the early 2000's, he found that my skeletal muscles were small, but strong.  That's probably the result of vigorous aerobic, with some (but not too much) strengthening.)

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I started my first CR with the goal of health at 16 years old or maybe before when I was a child I tried to lose weight because sometimes I thought I was fat, I suggest that you leave your BMI at least 14 and make a readjustment in calories when he is 16 like this you will reach 120 if you are under 20 years old.

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17 hours ago, Lucius said:

I haven't even read any posts on this forum but the diet sounds intriguing so I have a couple of questions that I would like to have answered before I start diving deeper into this topic.

  1. What percentage of calories restricted is assumed to yield the greatest benefits while being safe?
  2. Are there any known adverse effects that everyone or at least most people suffer from when eating this diet?
  3. How do you keep restricting calories forever without starving yourself to death? I'm assuming that at some point, your weight must drop so low that you can't restrict any further without putting yourself in danger and you have to start eating a maintenance level. If my assumption is correct, what is this ideal weight when you stop restricting and start eating a maintenance level?
  4. What about cardio exercise and strength training. Are you not allowed to do either of those because they would require you to eat more calories than is necessary?

1- More than calories restriction, the effect of CR is monitored. According to Michale Rae, the target is at least -15% from the ideal weight of our twenties. The above being said, there is probably no optimum, in my opinion, the optimum is exact optimization, that is, 0% from your real requirements. CR viewed as moderation and optimization.

2-It's very individual. I believe loss of muscle mass is common to everyone. Then, according to individuals and severity: cold, sleepiness, bone frailty, decrease in sex hormones. Teh above assuming that the only deficiency is calories, not other nutrients. Otherwise sickness Is likely.

3-The weight must not drop, for most people, below BMI 18 or 19, although some people go lower, but they monitor themselves accurately. There is no ideal weight for all. Again, -15% is the theoretical minimum decrease to benefit from CR (longevity-wise)

4-Cardio and above all resistance exercise are necessary to avoid excessive frailty and to maintain functionality. The burned calories are not counted. The bodyweight si the governing parameter.

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1 hour ago, mccoy said:

2-It's very individual. I believe loss of muscle mass is common to everyone. Then, according to individuals and severity: cold, sleepiness, bone frailty, decrease in sex hormones. Teh above assuming that the only deficiency is calories, not other nutrients. Otherwise sickness Is likely.

So I would be constantly cold, sleepy, frail and wouldn't want to fuck my girlfriend? What are the benefits again?

1 hour ago, mccoy said:

3-The weight must not drop, for most people, below BMI 18 or 19, although some people go lower, but they monitor themselves accurately. There is no ideal weight for all. Again, -15% is the theoretical minimum decrease to benefit from CR (longevity-wise)

So if I understand it correctly, at BMI 18-19 I stop restricting my caloric intake to not let the BMI drop any lower and I start eating maintenance level? But that would mean that this diet is really about reaching a certain BMI, not about continually restricting calories.

1 hour ago, mccoy said:

4-Cardio and above all resistance exercise are necessary to avoid excessive frailty and to maintain functionality. The burned calories are not counted. The bodyweight si the governing parameter.

What do you mean by "burned claories are not counted"? Do you eat more calories on the days you exercise or not? If not, wouldn't that result in restricting more than is recommended? Does this also mean that all bodybuilders are basically killing themselves by eating excessive calories to increase their muscle mass?

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17 hours ago, Saul said:

1. Don't try going on a CR diet right away.  Eat A LITTLE less food, with fewer calories.  Improve your diet slowly, begin to check your nutrient consumption -- using e.g. the free CREN-O-METER app.  Do not try to lose more than a pound of weight weekly.

You didn't answer my question which was how much I should restrict. Telling me to "eat a little less" is not helpful at all.

17 hours ago, Saul said:

2.  When a male gets onto fairly strict CR, he tends to lose the (normally very strong) sex desire -- it significantly decreases (I remember a time when I had to disappoint several females when I lost interest).

And how many more years of life do you think you have gained by eating this CR diet and giving up your sex drive?

17 hours ago, Saul said:

3.  Don't worry about it. 

I need to know what I'm getting myself into, so you telling me to not worry about something just makes me think you don't know what you're doing.

17 hours ago, Saul said:

4.  Exercise important -- especially aerobic.  Strengthening exercises should be at most mild to moderae for the reasons that you correctly mention.

So how do I find the right balance? If I'm going to start eating this diet I need to know exactly how much I should exercise and how much strength training I should do.

Edited by Lucius
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21 hours ago, Lucius said:

I haven't even read any posts on this forum but the diet sounds intriguing so I have a couple of questions that I would like to have answered before I start diving deeper into this topic.

Seriously?!  And then you whine about people who actually made the effort to answer your questions as best as such questions can be answered?!

If you are looking for easy answers and want to lose weight fast without being too concerned about the long term health impact, go on keto.

If you want to focus on health, make the effort to read through the posts in this forum, then come back and ask more informed questions.

Cheers.

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Saul said:  (When I was tested by Luigi in the early 2000's, he found that my skeletal muscles were small, but strong.  That's probably the result of vigorous aerobic, with some (but not too much) strengthening

yes I have previously posted that long lived people are generally not hugely muscular, but are more like you! Adequate and functional muscular systems.

Edited by Mike41
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35 minutes ago, Ron Put said:

Seriously?!  And then you whine about people who actually made the effort to answer your questions as best as such questions can be answered?!

If you are looking for easy answers and want to lose weight fast without being too concerned about the long term health impact, go on keto.

If you want to focus on health, make the effort to read through the posts in this forum, then come back and ask more informed questions.

Cheers.

If it makes you happy I read through a bunch of threads on this forum but didn't get satisfying answers to any of my 4 questions.

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33 minutes ago, Lucius said:

If it makes you happy I read through a bunch of threads on this forum but didn't get satisfying answers to any of my 4 questions.

I am ecstatic!  It made my day!

Now, what exactly are your goals?  Weight loss? Healthspan? Looking to join a fad because you've seen the headlines?

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48 minutes ago, Ron Put said:

I am ecstatic!  It made my day!

Now, what exactly are your goals?  Weight loss? Healthspan? Looking to join a fad because you've seen the headlines?

I couldn't care less about weight loss, my main goal is increased lifespan. I was thinking about diving deep into the topic of longevity and reading everything I could get my hands on for quite some time now, so when I accidentally stumbled upon CRON on nutritionfacts.org and saw that it increases lifespan, I said to myself "why not start my longevity research with this?" I would consider myself to be already living a very healthy life - I don't smoke, drink alcohol, I'm vegan and I don't eat any salt, sugar, oil or any processed foods. I run for 30 minutes every day but plan on increasing that to up to 60 minutes because of studies that I read where vigorous exercise was linked to decreased mortality rate. One thing I'm not doing and I should be doing is strength training and just when I started researching how many surplus calories I should be eating every day to build muscle two days ago I learned that I shouldn't be eating any surplus calories and as a matter of fact I should cut down on them to live longer - lol.

I got my answers here to questions 1 and 2 but 3 and 4 I'm still unsure about. What I don't understand is how do you keep restricting calories forever without starving yourself to death in the process. Wouldn't continuous restricting lead to you losing more and more weight?

And about cardio exercise and strength training (weightlifting) - is it worth it to do cardio even if it means you have to eat more calories in a day to compensate for the calories burned? And are bodybuilders really killing themselves by getting big and needing to eat more calories than people who don't work out?

Edited by Lucius
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3 hours ago, Lucius said:

So I would be constantly cold, sleepy, frail and wouldn't want to fuck my girlfriend? What are the benefits again?

So if I understand it correctly, at BMI 18-19 I stop restricting my caloric intake to not let the BMI drop any lower and I start eating maintenance level? But that would mean that this diet is really about reaching a certain BMI, not about continually restricting calories.

What do you mean by "burned claories are not counted"? Do you eat more calories on the days you exercise or not? If not, wouldn't that result in restricting more than is recommended? Does this also mean that all bodybuilders are basically killing themselves by eating excessive calories to increase their muscle mass?

You would be colder (men with lower body temperature live longer and lower body temperature seems to be part of the protective effects of CR). And no, you won't always be shivering cold. My body temperature is 35.5 degrees C and I'm fine. You adapt to it.

No, being young and skinny is not the same as being old and frail. I had a BMI of 16, weighing around 106 lbs. I was benching 60-70 kg. That is more than my body weight and definitely not "frail". My BMI now is about 18.

Sex drive can decrease for people on CR but it's different for everyone. If you're young, you probably won't be as impacted. When I was 20 and on strict CR with a  BMI of 16, my libido did not just vanish. 

You can see the benefits here. 😉

No, the diet is not about reaching a certain BMI. There is no good way to translate the level of restriction imposed on animals like mice and rats to humans. Ad lib intake varies a lot and so the best idea seems to be to reduce body weight by 10-15% if you're fairly skinny and up to 25% (if you're over a BMI of 25 when you start).

You impose calorie restriction slowly. Drop calorie intake by 10% at a time over a long period of time. Maybe 10% drop every 3-4 months or something. 

No, you do not eat more calories on days you exercised.

You don't "stop restricting" after weight loss. If you eat 1800  k/cal per day down from 2300, you will eventually stop losing weight and maintain. It's really up to you if you are comfortable with how you look at that point. Also take into consideration your quality of life and your blood work.

You might end up below a BMI of 18, you might not. It depends on many factors. When I first started to CR, my BMI dropped to 16. Now, almost 18 years later, I can maintain a BMI of about 18 at a strict 1500 k/cal per day.

 

In rodent experiments, CR mice are more active and are still running long after all the ad lib are dead. And no, they don't add in calories when their exercise more. You stick to the same calorie intake. 

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And about cardio exercise and strength training (weightlifting) - is it worth it to do cardio even if it means you have to eat more calories in a day to compensate for the calories burned?

It's worth doing some exercise like cardio and weightlifting. This is really up to you... it's a trade off. You stick to the same calorie intake, but if it's low enough, it will limit your muscle gains. But CR helps maintain muscle function and mass with age. 

If you're not compensating by increasing calories in the day(s) after intense exercise, you may lose more weight. So you accept the extra weight loss or you increase calories, thus reducing the level of restriction.

Edited by Matt
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27 minutes ago, Matt said:

You don't "stop restricting" after weight loss. If you eat 1800  k/cal per day down from 2300, you will eventually stop losing weight and maintain. It's really up to you if you are comfortable with how you look at that point. Also take into consideration your quality of life and your blood work.

But if I eventually stop losing weight and maintain then I'm no longer restricting calories because 1800 kcal per day is my new maintenance level. At that point, even if I let myself eat ad libitum I would still eat roughly 1800 kcal beacuse anything more than that would feel like too much food for my body weight. How exactly am I restricting my calories then? I'm just maintaining a certain weight/BMI/caloric intake. If I wanted to keep restricting I would need to substract 20% from 1800 and then after 1440 kcal per day would become my new maintenance level if I wanted to keep restricting I would need to again substract 20% from 1440. So how can you say that this diet is not about reaching a certain BMI/weight when you very clearly do stop restricting at some point?

Thanks for answering my other questions though, I'll read through the forum some more and check out your website as well.

Edited by Lucius
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You're restricting from your previous ad lib intake, that is the important part and how it's CR is implemented. You reduce weight by 10-25% below your natural 'set point' or where your weight gravitates to in your early 20s, assuming you're not obese or something.

This will induce the CR phenotype that is protective against diseases of aging and may extend lifespan.

Two books you should read:

  1. Dr Roy Walford - 120 Year Diet
  2. Dr Luigi Fontana - The Path to Longevity 

It's not about weight.

Although, in rodents, those in the CR group who are able to hold onto more fat when they're restricted, tend to do better and live longer. But they're still really skinny compared to ad lib controls.

Edited by Matt
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9 minutes ago, Matt said:

You're restricting from your previous ad lib intake, that is the important part and how it's CR is implemented. You reduce weight by 10-25% below your natural 'set point' or where your weight gravitates to in your early 20s, assuming you're not obese or something.

How do you figure out what your natural set point is? What if someone intentionally ate less or more calories in their early 20s and now they have no idea what their "natural" weight would have been?

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Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. We don't even know how much CR is too much. And it probably varies depending on the person as well...

I can give you my own experience from started at a young age:

When I was 18 years old, I removed sugar from my diet, changed bread and cereals to wholewheat, I stopped fizzy drinks, added more fruit to my diet, etc. It resulted in a weight loss drop without intentionally cutting calories. But calories were cut just by doing this. And so I count this as the first stage towards CRON. It was CR, but not intentional.

I don't remember the exact numbers, but I found a notepad with my weight on them from that time and I think it was about 135-140 lbs. I'm 5ft 7"

So I assume that was my set point. But I was 18 years old... not in my early 20s.

After two years of that, I started a strict CRON diet and reduced my weight from something like 123-124 lbs to 104 lbs at my lowest (BMI 16.3)

I maintained this for about 6-7 years an then increased to around 1700 k/cal for 2-3 years from 1550k/cal. Eventually I got to about BMI 17.5 and maintained this for a while. Gradually, my weight got to about 18-18.5 and stayed there for some years. 

In 2005 at 20-years-old, eating 1550 k/cal per day (measured everything) I could only maintain a BMI of 16.3

IN 2020 at almost 36-years-old, I eat 1500 k/cal per day, my BMI today is 18. 

But I still maintain the same CR biomarkers at a higher weight. My metabolism just seems to have slowed. I've now added in a bit more exercise 3 x per week.

Ultimately, your guide should also be your blood work and seeing if it matches up what we see in people on CR. And also what weight you're comfortable being.

Quote

How do you figure out what your natural set point is? What if someone intentionally ate less or more calories in their early 20s and now they have no idea what their "natural" weight would have been?

You restrict until you feel it's too much and you're too skinny. You be objective about your own health and quality of life. You track biomarkers like thyroid, glucose, insulin, IGF-1, body temperature, cholesterol, inflammation, blood pressure and more. Are they consistent with being on CR?

You won't reach the levels of the most severe CR imposed on rodents without looking extremely skinny. So in the end, it doesn't matter for most people as they would not put up with that.

Personally, I would not go below a BMI of 17.5 again. That would be my limit.

Edited by Matt
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On 8/26/2020 at 2:08 PM, Lucius said:

I would consider myself to be already living a very healthy life - I don't smoke, drink alcohol, I'm vegan and I don't eat any salt, sugar, oil or any processed foods. I run for 30 minutes every day but plan on increasing that to up to 60 minutes because of studies that I read where vigorous exercise was linked to decreased mortality rate. One thing I'm not doing and I should be doing is strength training 

First a minor thing, but make sure you are getting some salt, your body needs it.  But beyond that, it sounds like you are doing great, although I would recommend you do a little strength training, 5 or 10 minutes a day is all you really need, free HIIT workouts on YouTube are also great and cover both cardio and strength at the same time. Running for an hour every day is likely to do long term damage to your knees and possibly other body parts.  There is little to no evidence that serious CR will give you more years of living than what you are already doing.  Here’s a good thread to read: 

 

Edited by Gordo
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