How can I estimate my degree of caloric restriction — as understood in Caloric Restriction Experiments — from my measurement of the reduction in caloric consumption that I am experiencing?

By estimating your average daily calorie intake at baseline, and then once again after your weight has equilibrated after a year or so of CC dieting, you can calculate the percent reduction in daily calorie intake made possible by your new lifestyle.  But many people who embark on CC dieting do so not just to get leaner and improve their risk factors, but also in the hope of achieving some of the aging-retardant benefits observed in rodents and rhesus monkeys who are chronically fed less than their ad-libitum calorie intake.

How can you estimate how much calorie restriction benefit you are achieving with your CC regimen? This is not as straightforward as it might sound.   Consider two people:  Person A was quite heavy, but has managed to reduce his average daily calorie intake by 30% and lose significant weight with CC dieting.  Yet his daily calorie intake may now be little different than that of a moderately lean person with a comparable height and activity level — because his metabolic rate had been pushed upwards during his years of overeating.  Contrast him with Person B, who may have been quite lean when he embarked on CC dieting — say, a BMI of 20 — and achieves an average daily calorie reduction of 10%.  It is quite conceivable that person B is enjoying a greater calorie restriction metabolic benefit than person A — even though his calorie consumption has fallen by a lesser percentage.

If you would like to estimate the true degree of calorie restriction you have achieved with CC dieting — so that you can compare your experience with that of other people who are consciously engaged in calorie restriction protocols (or underfed mice or rhesus monkeys!) — we suggest that you visit this website.

The Calorie Restriction Calculator on this website estimates the daily calories burned by a person who has a moderately lean BMI of 22, but who has a height, activity level, age, and sex similar to your own.  The extent to which your current calorie intake is below this estimated calorie intake can be considered your “true” calorie restriction.  In other words, if your current calorie intake is about 1900 kcals daily, whereas your “twin” with a BMI of 22 is estimated to burn 2200 kcals daily, then the calorie restriction you have achieved would be 300 kcals daily, or 300/2200 = 13.6%.

To get reasonably accurate results with this Calorie Restriction Calculator, be careful not to overestimate your daily activity level.  The great majority of Americans would fall into the “sedentary” or “lightly active” categories, even those who go to a gym several times weekly.  Only people who are exercise fanatics — substantial exercise most days of the week – or who have physically demanding occupations would fall into the higher activity categories.

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