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Apr 22, 2008 03:25 AM

CRON diet: Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition

This thread can be a general discussion about this intriguing diet which studies have proven to increase lifespan. Mice put on this diet were more active, energetic and lived 30 percent longer. Not sure where the exact link for the study is, but calories were reduced almost to near starvation.

Some people reduce calories to a little under 2000 a day (30 percent less than the average American) and eat foods dense in nutrients (lots and lots of vegetables and fruits). Some people dramatically reduce calorie intake and replace with supplements. In fact, I think I ran into an article a while back (which I conveniently cannot find) of a Chinese man who claims to have not eaten for a couple decades.

Barbara Walters had a great segment "Live to be 150" on ABC discussing this unusual lifestyle, you can find the clip here on this link:

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  1. I think a pint of Haagen Daz is 1600 calories -- that wouldn't work, would it?

    I know, it wouldn't. The concept of this 'lifestyle' is intriguing, but as I saw from a show on it, the practice looks as boring as watching paint dry. A number of people abandoned it out of boredom.

    Are the extra years worth it? I don't think so.

    1. Here's a 2006 article from New York Magazine on this subject:

      But this thread probably belongs on the imaginary "About No Food" board.

      1. That would be a difficult (and not fun) diet for me to follow. But if you want to live to 150 (and don't care too much about food -- believe me, there are people like that) go ahead. A lot of monks essentially do that as some of them only eat once a day.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          I believe some people who are unwilling to give up some of their favorite foods simply fast every other day or eat once a day. Not sure if that is as effective but they say it's the excess calories that get to you the most

        2. Well, for CHers who "live to eat", that would be hell to live longer and not enjoy food... As the joke goes, you might not live longer but it'll feel like it.

          And, of course, the bummer would be to find at 80, after a lifetime of restriction that it only works on selected rats.

          5 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            I think they did a study on Holocaust victims that went for long periods without adequate nourishment and found that they lived longer years. Not sure how reliable the study is though, plus it's pretty morbid to think that you'd have to go through that much pain just to live an extra decade or so.

            Evolutionary theorists think that calorie restriction increases lifespan because the body goes into "protection mode" in order to prolong the lifespan and allow for more chance in reproductive success.

            1. re: takadi

              Actually, according to the Traditional Oriental medicine perspective, calorie restriction makes perfect sense. But it's probably too off-topic and can get a little involved for me to get into.

              Calorie restriction is one of the reasons why some groups engage in fasts. I do know several people, while not fasting every other day, fast once a week, with longer fasts during the change of seasons for health purposes. I don't think this type of lifestyle is for everyone. Some people are way too deficient to handle it.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                There is another theory of fast and famine for longer life, too. It's like a combination of a "normal" diet and the CRON diet. I don't remember the details anymore but you cut back calories and then have a day when you can eat more.

                1. re: chowser

                  Sounds like the Weight Watchers points diet where you can indulge on the weekends. Of course, the purpose of WW is to lose weight, not to live longer.

              2. re: takadi

                But, the correlation of the victims living longer isn't causation. It could be that the ones that survived were stronger to begin with, or many other reasons. I understand the theories behind it but I, personally, don't think there is enough proof to go on the diet in case I might live longer, miserably and longer. Hmmm, even if there were proof, I wouldn't want to live a life like that.

            2. Just wanted to contribute yet another article on the topic, from Slate, discussing the extension to which CR is actually comparable to anorexia (psychologically speaking):