Study shows benefits of calorie restriction

Published: Mar. 21, 2018 at 11:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 at 1:32 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new study from researchers at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows restricting calories could help protect against age-related disease.

RELATED: Learn more about LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The study, published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism, was authored by by Leanne Redman, PhD, associate professor in LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center's Reproductive Endocrinology and Women's Health Lab.

The trial, called CALERIE (an acronym), shows that cutting caloric intake by 15 percent for two years slowed aging and metabolism and protected against age-related disease.


  • Comprehensive
  • Assessment of the
  • Long-term
  • Effects of
  • Reducing
  • Intake of
  • Energy

The study found that calorie restriction decreased systemic oxidative stress, which has been tied to age-related neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as cancer, diabetes, and others.

"Restricting calories can slow your basal metabolism, and if by-products of metabolism accelerate aging processes, calorie restriction sustained over several years may help to decrease risk for chronic disease and prolong life," says lead author Leanne M. Redman, PhD, associate professor of Clinical Sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research in Baton Rouge, LA.

• Non-obese men & women
• between ages 21 and 50
• cut calories by 15 percent
• over 2 years

While weight loss was not the study's goal, those in the calorie restriction group lost an average of almost 19.8 pounds. Redman emphasized that they were looking for effects of calorie restriction on aging, not weight loss, where discussions of "fast" or "slow" metabolism most often arise.

"The CALERIE trial rejuvenates support for two of the longest-standing theories of human aging: the slow metabolism 'rate of living' theory and the oxidative damage theory," she says.


  • the faster an organism’s metabolism, the shorter its lifespan


  • closely associated to free radical theory of aging, which states that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time

While the number of participants was relatively small and the duration short in the context of a human lifespan, biomarkers of aging were improved in study participants.

The next step for researchers include establishing robust biomarkers of human aging and examining the effects of calorie restriction in conjunction with antioxidant foods or substances like resveratrol, which mimic calorie restriction.

This research study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


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