skip to Main Content

Does Caloric Restriction Prolong Life?

A Picture of Health?
A Picture of Health?

You may have heard Oprah’s Dr. Oz talking about an amazing new diet that, he claims, might allow us to live 150 years. I noticed that Dr. Oz seemed to be doing his best to highlight the benefits of this diet and downplay any risks, though he wasn’t following the diet himself – and I think I know why.

The diet he’s referring to is called “the calorie restriction diet,” a diet that requires you to limit your calories to 20 or 40 percent fewer than what’s currently recommended as a healthy amount, often as low as 1200 calories per day for women and 1800 for men.

This severe caloric restriction is said to engage the “sirtuin pathway,” a metabolic reaction to stress which, according to Dr. Oz, tells the body, “Don’t make more babies because you don’t have the excess abundant energy to do that—just live longer.”

Of course, though many people are dedicating themselves to these restrictions already, it’s anybody’s guess whether it will actually extend their lives. What researchers do know for sure is that if you genetically engage the sirtuin pathway in yeast, you can effectively slow all metabolic processes including reproduction and death. Whether these yeast “live” longer because they’ve been made more healthy is not well understood.

That’s why, to bolster their case, the Biotech companies funded animal research. One study the calorie restriction proponents like to point to a primate study done at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center(1).

This article is continued below...(scroll down)
megyn kelly

This has been life changing

"Let me tell you this has been life-changing. I have all of her books, in audible and ebooks! I have gotten rid of all the hateful 8 oils. I have trained my body to eat its own previously toxic body fat. Download that pod it's a game changer!"

Megyn Kelly
Jesse Watters

Life changing

Deep Nutrition changed my life.

Jesse Watters
Fox News Primetime host

Saved my life

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. Prior to reading the book, it was almost impossible for me to lose weight as a diabetic. 

Leontyne Tompkins

I feel free

For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it! 

Robert Kirkendall

I feel so much better

I had terrible aches and pains everywhere in my body, my hands, shoulders and knees. I feel so much better and the way I feel is motivating me every day! Thank you

Mike Deb Wootan Burcin

Better than ever

I am an anesthesiologist in Orlando and a huge fan of both of your books! I have been incorporating your principles for the last 10 months and feel that my health is better than ever.

Marnie Robinson, MD

My allergies disappeared

The biggest difference for me (and a surprising one) is that my allergies have almost completely disappeared! This is a big deal for me, because I’ve had allergies most of my life and they have often affected what I do which is a teaching music in [a public school district].  In general, I feel much better and have more consistent energy throughout the day.

Erica Turrell

Heart Palpitations have Stopped

I’ve lost 20+ pounds (also fasting 16-24 hours daily) and haven’t had palpitations except for one occasion — I had a mini bag of Fritos for the first time in July. And, I feel better now on a daily basis than I ever did all through college.

Mike Wright
Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix reader
Mitzi Wilkinson Champion

I’ve lost over 50 pounds

I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food

Mitzi Wilkinson Champion

Knowledge I didn’t know I needed

Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!

Jennifer Dillman
Fatburn Fix reader

Lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork is great

I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!

Missy Cramer
FatBurn Fix reader

Lost 20 lbs I could never shed

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!

Lauren Smith

I feel great

My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.

Richard Janelle
Completed Dr Cate's online course
Kent Matthes

The go-to for strength and conditioning coaches

Whenever I advise my clients about eating to perform I go straight to what I have learned from Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition has become the go-to for strength and conditioning coaches across the country.

Kent Matthes
Major League Baseball Agent with WME Sports
Ken D Berry

Dismantles the lie

Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.  

Ken D Berry, MD
Author of Lies My Doctor Told Me
Dr. Drew Pinsky

She knows the chemistry

Dr. Cate alerts us to the harms of seed oils and she’s convincing because she knows the chemistry better than anyone.

Dr. Drew Pinskey, MD
Globally recognized internal medicine and addiction medicine specialist, media personality, LoveLine Host, and New York Times bestselling author
Kelly Starrett

No one is better at communicating nutritional truth

Dr. Cate has had the single greatest impact on how we talk to people about fueling for both performance or durability. While we all are a little unique, the foundational principles of human nutrition are immutable. If you are looking to create a more durable, resilient body, no one is better at communicating nutritional truth than Dr. Cate.

Dr. Kelly Starrett
Physiotherapist coach and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Brian Lenkzes

Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix

Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!

Dr. Brian Lenkzes, MD
CEO of LowCarbMD San Diego, co-host of Low Carb MD Podcast and host of Life's Best Medicine Podcast
Chris Kaman

Respected in the sports world

Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.

Chris Kaman
NBA Player
Mark Sisson

Brought seed oil issue front and center

Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.

Mark Sisson
Founding Father of the Primal/Paleo Movement
Dallas Hartwig

Optimal health starts with food

If you want to understand how optimal health starts with food, start with Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition leaves you with an appreciation of the profound relationship between our genes and the planet, inspiring us to be good shepherds of both.

Dallas Hartwig
Attribution author of The Whole 30
Dwight Howard

Helped me with endurance

Deep Nutrition really helped me with endurance. I started to feel better as a player. I was able to run more, I was able to be more active …and I just decided to keep going with it to this day.

Dwight Howard
NBA Player
Paul Grewal

Silver bullet for me

Dr Cate’s teachings helped me lose 60 pounds like it was nothing. It was like a silver bullet for me.

Paul Grewal, MD 
Dr Grewal Internal Medicine, MD, author of Genius Foods
Joesph Mercola

Radically improve your health…

Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.

Dr. Joseph Mercola
Author of Fat for Fuel and Founder of Mercola.com
Dave Aspery

Pull up a chair…

I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.

Dave Asprey
Author of the Bulletproof Diet

The key to unlocking my fatburn

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  

Lauren Smith

Saved my life

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. 

Leontyne Tompkins

> Tears of joy

 I'm crying tears of joy and appreciation for all you've done for me and my health! Without Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix, I would literally still be in the vicious cycle I'd been fighting all my life! In a nutshell - I am no longer a compulsive overeating addict suffering under the crushing 'thumb' of all food and alcohol.     

Penni Wicks

 

What does the sirtuin pathway have to do with this study? Nothing. None of the monkeys in the study were given anything approximating the kind of calorie restriction that might engage the sirtuin pathway. One group was given a standard pellet regimen, and the other was overfed.

So it’s not really a sirtuin pathway study. How, then, do these scientists trick TV doctors and other media talking heads into bringing this study up and folding it into discussions about life extension?

They monkey with the language, saying that study animals have been placed on a calorie restriction diet when, in reality, they’re diets are restricted relative only to the animals in the next cage – the ones who get all the pellets they want whenever they want.

The claim is that the study group monkeys (the monkeys on the “calorie restriction” diet) went hungry, and were being compared to a control group of monkeys on a normal diet. In reality, they allowed one group of monkeys to become so obese (notice the rolls of belly fat on the monkey on the right) that they were bound to live shorter lives than their relatively trim lab mates. Then, the researchers can attribute this miracle to the wonders of Dr. Oz’s sirtuin pathway.

Here’s where the biotech companies really get excited because if we actually buy the arguments made in these seriously flawed studies then maybe, in a few years time, we’ll also be buying billions of dollars worth of pills promising to turn our sirtuin pathways on without the need to go hungry.

Life Extension Claims are Fictitious

So there’s no real life extension. It’s only life extension relative to premature death. This deception is just one of many that I found from reading the scientific papers with a careful eye for detail.

The holes in this study seem big enough to build on of Oprah’s houses in. How could Dr. Oz have missed them? I don’t know, honestly, because they admit the study flaws right in the opening language.

More than 70 years ago, it was discovered that reducing energy intake during
adult life can increase the life span of laboratory rodents. The ability of
caloric restriction (CR) during adult life to lengthen life span has been observed
consistently in many different species of mammals. In all such energy-
restriction studies described in this chapter the control group was fed ad libitum
and the CR diet group received amounts of micronutrients equivalent to those
consumed by the control group. It should therefore be kept in mind that, with
regard to food intake, ad libitum feeding in the laboratory is not the norm for
rodents in the wild. Instead, the control animals are overfed and overweight.
(3)

“It should therefore be kept in mind that…the control animals are overfed and overweight.” Darn right it should, since this small fact completely undermines the popular interpretation of the study, that calorie restriction makes sense for people who aren’t overeating.

All such calorie-restriction studies over the course of the past century – and there have been hundreds – are built around the same flaws and produce the same swirling alphabet soup of self-contradiction and sleight of hand that feeds the front-line troops of the Biotech campaign.

I blame ad-libitum
I blame ad-libitum

Regardless of the researchers lofty claims of super-longevity, such studies’ true findings are far more humble. They show only that ad-libitum diets make animals fat, particularly when they’re caged and the stuff they’re eating is a little more nourishing than cardboard and a lot less nourishing than their natural diet.

It’s a little like locking your cat in the bathroom with an endless supply of dried chow. Come back three weeks later and you’ll find a cat that’s bored, resentful, and bigger. What, as a scientist, might you conclude from that? That you should start starving yourself and your family? Or might you infer something else?

Citing these studies as evidence, some celebrity doctors are implying that if we get terrible chronic diseases it is due in part to the fact that we lack the discipline to starve ourselves.

It’s also not a great idea to trade in your kitchen crockery for an array of digital milligram scales and teaspoon measurements, denying yourself the pleasure of a healthy diet because a bunch of manipulated studies told you that you should.

Here’s a better prescription: ape the lifestyles of people who live the longest. Eat authentic cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients, laugh, love, exercise and live passionately. And by all means, do restrict your intake of junk science.

biscuit and granola
Un-Natural Diets

References:

1.Caloric Restriction Delays Disease Onset and Mortality in Rhesus Monkeys Science 10 July 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5937, pp. 201 – 204

2. Calorie restriction and cardiometabolic health European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation 2008, 15:3–9 “Hundreds of studies have shown that CR, defined as a reduction in calorie intake below ad libitum (AL) intake without malnutrition, is the most reliable and effective intervention for improving metabolic health, preventing carcinogenesis and increasing life span in rats, mice, fish, flies, and worms”

3. ENERGY INTAKE, MEAL FREQUENCY, AND HEALTH: A Neurobiological Perspective, Annu. Rev. Nutr. 2005. 25:237–60

Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I did this diet about 10 years ago after seeing Ray Wolford on TV. Dropped a lot of weight, but everyone thought I was sick. Then I watched a clip on 60-minutes of some folks who were practicing this, they were ooing and ahhing over a little hunk of broccoli rabe. Plus they looked like Gollum. I looked like Gollum. Seeing as how I play golf and usually carry my bag, I abandoned CR, for fear I might collapse under the weight of my own golf bag.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top
Search