Caloric restriction alone and with exercise improves CVD risk in healthy non-obese individuals

Atherosclerosis. 2009 Mar;203(1):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.05.036. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


Calorie restriction (CR) delays the development of age-associated disease and increases lifespan in rodents, but the effects in humans remain uncertain.

Purpose: Determine the effect of 6 months of CR with or without exercise on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and estimated 10-year CVD risk in healthy non-obese men and women.

Methods: Thirty-six individuals were randomized to one of three groups for 6 months: Control, 100% of energy requirements; CR, 25% calorie restriction; CR+EX, 12.5% CR+12.5% increase in energy expenditure via aerobic exercise. CVD risk factors were assessed at baseline, 3 and 6 months.

Results: After 6 months, CR and CR+EX lost approximately 10% of body weight. CR significantly reduced triacylglycerol (-31+/-15mg/dL) and factor VIIc (-10.7+/-2.3%). Similarly CR+EX reduced triacylglycerol (-22+/-8mg/dL) and additionally reduced LDL-C (-16.0+/-5.1mg/dL) and DBP (-4.0+/-2.1mmHg). In contrast, both triacylglycerol (24+/-14mg/dL) and factor VIIc (7.9+/-2.3%) were increased in the Control group. HDL-cholesterol was increased in all groups while hsCRP was lower in the Controls versus CR+EX. Estimated 10-year CVD risk significantly declined from baseline by 29% in CR (P<0.001) and 38% in the CR+EX (P<0.001) while remaining unchanged in the Control group.

Conclusions: Based on combined favorable changes in lipid and blood pressure, caloric restriction with or without exercise that induces weight loss favorably reduces risk for CVD even in already healthy non-obese individuals.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging
  • Body Weight
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Risk Factors