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Calorie restriction targets


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#1 jlchen

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 11:28 AM


I am new to this forum so apologies if this question has been dealth with previously.

For those who are practicing CRON, do you aim for a set percentage amount of CRON from what you guess is your "normal" calorie intake, or do you aim for a specific body weight / BMI, and then adjust your eating to stay at that weight?

In my case I have always had a BMI of around 18 to 20, generally defaulting to a BMI of 19 / 57 kg with healthy eating. Taking my BMI down to say 17 or 18 sounds like a much simpler exercise than trying to guess my "normal" calorie intake and then reducing it by a given percentage from my normal calorie intake.

In addition to aiming for a specific calorie intake, do you aim for a specific protein intake also?

#2 Michael

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 10:39 PM

For those who are practicing CRON, do you aim for a set percentage amount of CRON from what you guess is your "normal" calorie intake, or do you aim for a specific body weight / BMI, and then adjust your eating to stay at that weight?

CR is not about your weight. It makes sense to track it, amongst other things as a safety monitor (against too-rapid weight loss or unexplained sudden drops from stable CR weight) and secondary metric (if your weight starts to creep up, you may not be as restricted as you thought, may have made a meaningful change by switching the kinds of food you eat, etc) but should not be the target.

You shouldn't "guess" your ad lib intake: you should measure it, just like you have to on CR. See my guidelines on starting CR.

Taking my BMI down to say 17 or 18 sounds like a much simpler exercise than trying to guess my "normal" calorie intake and then reducing it by a given percentage from my normal calorie intake.

Simpler, possibly; reliable, no.

In addition to aiming for a specific calorie intake, do you aim for a specific protein intake also?

I'd suggest it's going to be both safer (as protecting against lean mass loss, including the heart and other internal organs) and easier (in terms of appetite management) to maintain ~20-30% protein while losing weight. However, there are good reasons to think that after achieving a stable CRed weight, you should transition to the RDA and not much more: 0.8 g/kg. See my guidelines on protein intake on CR.

However your protein and carb ratios shift, you should always a minimum of 30% of Calories from fat, and track your EFA intake.

Edited by Michael, 07 January 2011 - 01:08 PM.
Corrected mg--> g protein (thanks, PWAIN)


#3 jlchen

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:05 PM

Many thank Michael for the really detailed answers to my questions. This is very helpful. I hope you won't mind me asking a couple of follow-up questions in relation to some of the things that you wrote.

In your response to one of my questions you said:

CR is not about your weight. It makes sense to track it, amongst other things as a safety monitor (against too-rapid weight loss or unexplained sudden drops from stable CR weight) and secondary metric (if your weight starts to creep up, you may not be as restricted as you thought, may have made a meaningful change by switching the kinds of food you eat, etc) but should not be the target.

However, on the page you referred me to of your guidelines for starting CR you seem to indicate that praticing CR is more about maintaining a stable low weight:

If you are lucky enough to have had a clear, healthy 'setpoint' in your youth -- a weight to which you tended to remain stably when you were in your early twenties, and that was within the healthy BMI range -- take that as your baseline, and restrict Calories down to a level that keeps you at least 15% below that.

and

Watch your weight and your software: lose no more than a pound or two a week. Keep gradually doing this until you reach a level of Calorie intake that keeps you at least about 15% below your biological 'setpoint.' Then, keep tweaking your intake modestly to stay there, indefinitely.

This suggests to me that while the aim of CR is not achieving a specific body weight (or "setpoint") per se, the practice of it does involve trying to target your weight to a chosen level. While I understand that CR is about calorie intake and not not leaness achieved through exercise, what you wrote seems to suggest that you target a chosen low weight and then eat a fully balanced diet to keep you at that weight while exercising moderately. Would you say that that is correct?

In relation to my question about protein intake, you wrote that:

after achieving a stable CRed weight, you should transition to the RDA and not much more: 0.8 mg/kg. See my guidelines on protein intake on CR.

I am wondering how difficult it is to achieve this in practice as even on a vegan diet I struggle keep my protein intake below 1.0 g per kilogram body weight (with a daily calorie intake of under 1750 kcal) according to CRON-O-METER. Do others struggle with this more than the keeping the calorie count down also?

#4 Michael

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 09:26 PM

Sorry for the long delay in responding ...

CR is not about your weight. It makes sense to track it, amongst other things as a safety monitor [...] and secondary metric [...] but should not be the target.

However, on the page you referred me to of your guidelines for starting CR you seem to indicate that praticing CR is more about maintaining a stable low weight:

If you are lucky enough to have had a clear, healthy 'setpoint' in your youth -- a weight to which you tended to remain stably when you were in your early twenties, and that was within the healthy BMI range -- take that as your baseline, and restrict Calories down to a level that keeps you at least 15% below that.

and

Watch your weight and your software: lose no more than a pound or two a week. Keep gradually doing this until you reach a level of Calorie intake that keeps you at least about 15% below your biological 'setpoint.' Then, keep tweaking your intake modestly to stay there, indefinitely.

This suggests to me that while the aim of CR is not achieving a specific body weight (or "setpoint") per se, the practice of it does involve trying to target your weight to a chosen level. While I understand that CR is about calorie intake and not not leaness achieved through exercise, what you wrote seems to suggest that you target a chosen low weight and then eat a fully balanced diet to keep you at that weight while exercising moderately. Would you say that that is correct?

I can see how you would take that away from what I said above, that wasn't what I meant. Rather, I meant that this (the number of Calories required to get to 15% below "setpoint," or if not at least below a best guess of youthful BMI within the healthy range) is a good threshold level of Caloric restriction per se required to be reasonably confident that you're in "CR mode." Your actual Calorie target should be this low or preferably lower (as noted), but the point is that the target is the Calories, not the weight. Again, watch your weight, too -- but what you really need to know is your Calorie intake.

after achieving a stable CRed weight, you should transition to the RDA and not much more: 0.8 mg/kg. See my guidelines on protein intake on CR.

I am wondering how difficult it is to achieve this in practice as even on a vegan diet I struggle keep my protein intake below 1.0 g per kilogram body weight (with a daily calorie intake of under 1750 kcal) according to CRON-O-METER. Do others struggle with this more than the keeping the calorie count down also?

Certainly, my own experience is that it's hard to keep down to the RDA even in totally vegan meals. Contrary to all the hype about people not getting enough protein, it's surprisingly hard to keep as low as the RDA, once you cut out sugar and grains and get the great bulk your carb from vegetables. I take it that this is the origin of your "problem"?

If indeed all your protein is vegan, and it doesn't come from quotidian intake of soy (which you should cease and desist immediately, if so), I wouldn't worry about it much beyond your current 1 mg/kg, as the quality of vegan protein is rather low anyway, despite the insistence to the contrary of overly-zealous vegetarian evangelists.

But of course, if you really want a proper answer, you should analyze and/or post your actual food records and nutrition analysis from nutrition software :) .




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