Calorie Restriction Hard? I Think Not

A release at EurekAlert demonstrates that practicing calorie restriction is nowhere near as hard as certain mainstream outlets make it out to be.

When Penn State researchers made small changes in young women's meals -- reducing calorie density by 30 percent and serving size by just 25 percent -- the women ate 800 calories less per day and felt just as full and satisfied.

Dr. Barbara Rolls, who holds the Guthrie Chair of Nutrition in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, directed the study. She says, "We lowered the energy density, or calories per gram, of the participants' meals by incorporating more vegetables and fruit in recipes and also using food products reduced in fat and sugar. The subjects found the smaller, lower energy density meals just as palatable, filling and satisfying as the big, high calorie menu items -- and they didn't compensate for lowered intake on the first day by eating more on the second day of the study."

If you were eating a nominally sane (say, 2500 calories per day) diet and dropped 800 calories per day, you'd already be into calorie restriction territory. As practitioners have been saying for a while, it's quite possible to do this without feeling hungry if you are sensible about what you eat.


I have not read the entire study, but according to the EurekAlert report, these people were only restricting two days of the week. There is no mention of how they ate for the rest of the week. This lack of control ("come into the lab a couple of times, and we'll feed you less food") is typical of Rolls' work and, for that reason, I doubt its worth. I think the results of Ancel Keys' Minnesota Starvation Study are more accurate: the consequences of CR are severe.

Posted by: Kip Werking at November 15th, 2004 11:40 AM

Good points. From personal experience, I've never found CR as hard as it's made out to be - but that may just be me.

Posted by: Reason at November 15th, 2004 1:24 PM

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