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Puzzling over approach and calorie paramaters

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I'm new to CRON and a few questions have come up as I've been orienting myself to this different way of thinking about calories and nutrition. I'm hoping some of you practiced people could help me get my bearings. So, a few things:

1. According to the general guidelines out there, "normal" calorie intake for me would be around 2000/day (moderately active). A suggestion I saw online somewhere was that for CR you should reduce your calories by 1/4 to 1/3, so that would put me at 1500/day to 1333/day

2. On the site here it says that you take your "baseline" weight, which for me is about 160 lbs, and you reduce calories to support a weight that is 15% below that, which for me would be 136lbs

3 Using Cronometer, I set my starting weight (166lbs) and my goal weight (136 lbs) and today my recommended intake is 1603 calories. If I go down in weight, Cronometer suggests a lower number of calories, which in my mind makes sense because as the days go on I'll be slowly restricting calories more, and my weight will be less as a result and therefor closer to the "goal" weight that is 15% below my baseline weight. What confuses me is that if I mess around with Cronometer and set my weight as 136 and say to maintain that weight it gives me a 1600 calorie budget... which is higher than the 1333-1500 calories per day range that I mentioned above. Can anyone offer an explanation as to why? It seems odd to me that I might go through the process of slowly restricting my calories (and losing weight gradually) only to then jump back up to a higher, less restricted number of calories. Should I forget about the weight factor all together and just restrict my calories slowly (I'm more comfortable with a gradual change) and when I reach lets say 1400 calories just stick there? For what it's worth, I think I would have to get down to 130 lbs before my BMI was low enough for concern.

Please note: I am not interested in CRON because of the weight loss aspect and do not therefor have a goal of being any particular weight. I recognize, however, that CR will entail some weight loss and am trying to take that into consideration to make sure that it happens gradually and that I'm understanding and considering the whole process. 

I'd love any helpful comments on the information I've given here, guidelines/ranges for CR that are sensible (and especially let me know if the above guidelines are not sensible!), to hear how have other's gone about transitioning to CR

 

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I think tracking calories is more practical for lab animals eating formulated lab chow.  I find it time consuming and awkward to try and get an accurate measure of everything I'm eating, especially when eating shared meals with others or eating food prepared by someone else or eating left overs.  Even when eating something simple such as a fish is the one I'm eating of standard leanness for the species?  How should I account for the fins, bones and portion of the head that I don't eat?  Just deduct the weight despite it probably having less calories by weight than the portion of the fish I consumed?  If I cooked it with olive oil do I bother to figure out how much oil went into my belly versus what remains on my plate or in the pan or was consumed by others?  I'm not saying there is no value in trying to count calories but it is hard to be accurate.

Tracking weight also has limitations.  On a day to day basis there will be fluctuation due to the contents of bladder & bowels and hydration status.  On a longer term it is more meaningful but still begs the question how much of the weight change is due to fat versus muscle or something else?

Of all my tracking efforts I think the best long term ROI is taking photos.  I find it more interesting to view how my appearance is changing over time then looking at past numbers.  Looking at a photo I can judge flabbiness and muscle tone, appearance of skin, fullness of smile, bags under the eyes, posture, etc.  Health looks attractive.  I think it would be way more informative in a doctor's office if instead of tracking scale weight they took a picture.  Display the series of pictures and it wouldn't take a qualified health professional as most anyone could say if one is doing well or not.  The pictures will suggest whether one needs to eat less or move more.  It wouldn't surprise me if a series of pictures could be used to guesstimate heart disease and other risks as well or better than typical metrics of various blood panels.

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I think you should consider the wider body of evidence before you adopt any potentially ill conceived ideas from the past.  Truthfully most of the hard core calorie restrictors from this group and elsewhere have abandoned the older classic practices involving super low BMIs (<19), some developed health problems, frailty, osteoporosis, bone fractures.  Some of the people who say they do CR have weirdly high BMIs too, I don't know, all I'd suggest is that you do a lot of research.  One of the founding members and leaders here (who no longer participates here) wrote a pretty good book The CR Way (which ironically doesn't even mention calories much if at all, and warns people not to drop below a 20 BMI).  The so called "Godfather of Calorie Restriction" Roy Walford died at age 79.  There is a good thread here you might want to read: 

 

Edited by Gordo

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Hi Starlitght,

Welcome to the CR Forums! Gordo may have overstated things a bit, but he is generally on-point when it comes to what at least some of us old-timers think about hardcore CR these days.

The thread he pointed to is a good one, but if you really want to get into the weeds about whether strict CR is worth it relative to a more normal, healthy, obesity-avoiding diet, I recommend this one:

Then you can judge the evidence for yourself and make an informed choice.

--Dean

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It is a nice thread, but easy to get bogged down in controversies. This review may interest. Both authors are well known to this community. With regard to resolving the controversies, not much has changed since 2014.

Optimal body weight for health and longevity: bridging basic, clinical, and population research.

Aging Cell. 2014 Jun;13(3):391-400. doi: 10.1111/acel.12207. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

doi: 10.1111/acel.12207

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.12207

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1 hour ago, Mechanism said:

Optimal body weight for health and longevity: bridging basic, clinical, and population research.

Aging Cell. 2014 Jun;13(3):391-400. doi: 10.1111/acel.12207. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

doi: 10.1111/acel.12207

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.12207

Yep, a nice, concise summary. Thanks.

What I found very useful is to have periodic blood tests, and especially after I've made a significant dietary change. Without a doubt, my results are significantly improved since I have started tracking them regularly, and adjusting my nutrients accordingly. I pay an annual fee at Labtestanalyzer where I keep track of all my past lab results (it's not perfect, but the best and the easiest cloud storage for results I've found). For me at least, the proof that I am doing something useful for my health is in the lab results.

My setpoint is a BMI of about 18.5-19, based on what I weighed when I was 18. But as I hit middle-age, I pushed closer to BMI of 21, up to 22 or so. Over the past few years, as I became more serious about nutrition, I have become practically vegan (on rare occasions, I eat cheese), I use Cronometer religiously and now my BMI is around 19, dipping occasionally to 18.5. I am not sure that that qualifies as CR, since it's where I naturally was at the age of 18.

Does this mean that I'll live to 100+? Who knows? It depends on many variables, including genetics, bacteria, luck, and random buses. But what's important right now is that I feel great about my health, as well as about the 10%-11% fat mass I've been maintaining. If that's CR then I am a happy practitioner and recommend it.

In addition, I'd also recommend a scale like Withings (Nokia) Body Cardio, which does a reasonably good job of tracking weight, fat mass, lean mass, muscle mass, and if you live in Europe, Pulse Wave Velocity. It tracks closely enough with a DEXA scan, in my experience. I also live with a fitness tracker (Garmin Venu) which is useful for tracking stuff like runs and hikes, and HRV and RHR and see how those change with diet and exercise as well.

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Hi everyone, thank you for the responses and the welcome! I'll certainly continue to read through the forum posts, and check out the links you've shared.

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Best meta-analysis of BMI I've seen is:  https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2156.abstract

BMI and all cause mortality: systematic review and non-linear dose-response meta-analysis of 230 cohort studies with 3.74 million deaths among 30.3 million participants

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2156 (Published 04 May 2016)Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2156

 

Edited by Gordo

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Gordo, I like that study but perhaps they might have added more participants, LOL, 30 million is half the population of Italy, they should have gone full population.

From the healthy never smokers graph, we can observe that BMIs<20 tend usually to be not favourable, especially so < 18. A warning for rigorous CRers maybe. The relative risk for obese people (BMI=30) is the same as that of very thin people (BMI=17.5). Maybe the graph for a longer followup is more favourable to CRers

image.png.3073bb68d477082a7c41767e414a08f2.png

 

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On 4/29/2021 at 9:56 PM, Todd Allen said:

I think tracking calories is more practical for lab animals eating formulated lab chow.  I find it time consuming and awkward to try and get an accurate measure of everything I'm eating, especially when eating shared meals with others or eating food prepared by someone else or eating left overs.  Even when eating something simple such as a fish is the one I'm eating of standard leanness for the species?  How should I account for the fins, bones and portion of the head that I don't eat?  Just deduct the weight despite it probably having less calories by weight than the portion of the fish I consumed?  If I cooked it with olive oil do I bother to figure out how much oil went into my belly versus what remains on my plate or in the pan or was consumed by others?  I'm not saying there is no value in trying to count calories but it is hard to be accurate.

Tracking weight also has limitations.  On a day to day basis there will be fluctuation due to the contents of bladder & bowels and hydration status.  On a longer term it is more meaningful but still begs the question how much of the weight change is due to fat versus muscle or something else?

Of all my tracking efforts I think the best long term ROI is taking photos.  I find it more interesting to view how my appearance is changing over time then looking at past numbers.  Looking at a photo I can judge flabbiness and muscle tone, appearance of skin, fullness of smile, bags under the eyes, posture, etc.  Health looks attractive.  I think it would be way more informative in a doctor's office if instead of tracking scale weight they took a picture.  Display the series of pictures and it wouldn't take a qualified health professional as most anyone could say if one is doing well or not.  The pictures will suggest whether one needs to eat less or move more.  It wouldn't surprise me if a series of pictures could be used to guesstimate heart disease and other risks as well or better than typical metrics of various blood panels.

I don't agree.  If you track your weight every morning right after doing your ablutions, despite minor day to day fluctuations, you will get useful information if you are losing (or gaining) weight.

True, CroNoMeter recommends looking in a mirror in the morning while wearing only your underpants, to get a rough idea of your percent body fat.  But I think this is a poor measure of either your percent body pass or of whether your diet is effective.  Dexa is of course the best way to view your body fat.

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On 5/3/2021 at 2:59 PM, mccoy said:

From the healthy never smokers graph, we can observe that BMIs<20 tend usually to be not favourable, especially so < 18. A warning for rigorous CRers maybe.

I'd take these observational studies with a large grain of salt. As I've posted elsewhere, plenty of the very old healthy populations have very old BMI, and very few have high BMI.

See this, for example:
 

On 4/30/2021 at 6:22 PM, Ron Put said:


925209316_ScreenShot2021-04-30at16_26_41.png.3a42bb2e7fd6e72b18175b59b5e1492c.png

It appears that all other things being equal, as a general rule the smaller one's mass, the greater the chance for longevity. Again, the prevalence of the very old is higher in Southern Europe and Japan (especially in pre-1970 Okinawa), which may explain the higher BMI among the significantly rarer very old in Northern Europe or the US. And that's despite of the more advanced and costly health care often available in Northern Europe and the US.

Edited by Ron Put

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