A.: The research is not yet definitive on how early it is advantageous or safe for a person to begin CR. So while it is probably good for everyone to eat in moderation, one should be careful about restricting calories during the teen years when the body is still growing. Note that we describe our diet as calorie restricted NUTRIENT-dense. We would recommend that anyone include high quality foods in their diet like sweet potatoes, broccoli, and other yummies, that offer benefits at any age.
Q.: How does one start on a low-calorie diet? Is it a gradual process? Where can I get more information? -- Toni Loftin Austin, Texas
A.: We recommend reading "The Longevity Diet," by Brian Delaney and Lisa Walford. Here you will find all the info necessary to easily, intelligently and safely follow a nutrient dense, low-cal diet. Another very useful resource is the Calorie Restriction Society. You can learn about the Society and its information exchange at http://calorierestriction.org/. Yes, gradually is the safest way. Try to integrate the dietary changes into your lifestyle over a period of a year or more.
Q.: How long have you been doing this? Did you make any other lifestyle changes at the same time or since you began? How much has your weight changed? How energetic do you feel? Describe any effects, good or bad, that you think can be ascribed to this diet, and explain why. Probably what you eat has changed as well as how much. Can you comment on separable effects and interactions? How feasible would you consider a vegan version of the diet? -- Robert Atlas Austin, TX
A.: We've been practicing some degree of CR for eleven years. Other lifestyle changes that we've adopted in that period and practice to some extent include meditation, the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, the Sedona Method and meditation. We have both lost weight. Meredith has lost 17 pounds or 13%, and Paul has lost 27 pounds or 17%. Both of us have better energy than ever, better recall, lower blood glucose, more gradual blood glucose rises, and reduced levels of many hormones. Our dietary practices also include an effort to control glucose, using the glycemic index of foods. We are currently eating less protein than we used to because research shows that protein restriction has similar effects to calorie restriction. A vegan diet is very feasible and there are many members of the Calorie Restriction society who are vegans. Our particular approach does include small amounts of animal protein: salmon and eggs, for example.
Q.: What is meant by "extreme Caloric Restriction"? How do you define this and what is the target? I have seen definitions such as 15-20% lower than your set weight or the weight you were at when you were in your 20s. But that seems vague. Using the BMI a score of between 19 and 19 put you at underweight. Can we use the BMI to set a target? -- Andy Lefebvre Warren, MI