Caloric restriction: implications for human cardiometabolic health

J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2013 Jul-Aug;33(4):201-8. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0b013e318295019e.


Purpose: While the impact of caloric restriction on human health is not fully understood, there is strong evidence to support further studies of its influence on cardiovascular health. The purpose of this review was to update the state of the science by examining the relevant literature regarding calorie-restriction effects on aging and cardiovascular health and to discuss the possible role(s) of calorie restriction in preserving cardiovascular function in humans.

Methods: For purpose of this review, we have defined calorie restriction as a reduction in energy intake well below the amount of calories that would be consumed ad libitum (≥10% in humans, ≥20% in animals). We examined the relevant literature on calorie-restriction effects on longevity and cardiovascular health, with an emphasis on the state of the science regarding calorie restriction in humans. We have emphasized the importance of the preliminary and expected findings from the Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-term Effect of Reducing Intake of Energy trial.

Results: Evidence from animal studies and a limited number of human trials indicates that calorie restriction has the potential to both delay cardiac aging and help prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease via beneficial effects on blood pressure, lipids, inflammatory processes, and potentially other mechanisms.

Conclusions: On the basis of its known benefits to cardiometabolic health, including modest calorie restriction in a combined lifestyle program is likely to improve heart health and prevent subsequent cardiovascular events in overweight and obese individuals. Additional study is needed to further illuminate its long-term applicability for older adults and for those with significant comorbidities, such as heart failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction / methods*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / prevention & control*