Importance: Calorie restriction (CR) increases longevity in many species and reduces risk factors for chronic diseases. In humans, CR may improve health span, yet concerns remain about potential negative effects of CR.
Objective: To test the effect of CR on mood, quality of life (QOL), sleep, and sexual function in healthy nonobese adults.
Design, setting, and participants: A multisite randomized clinical trial (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy Phase 2 [CALERIE 2]) was conducted at 3 academic research institutions. Adult men and women (N = 220) with body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 22.0 to 28.0 were randomized to 2 years of 25% CR or an ad libitum (AL) control group in a 2:1 ratio favoring CR. Data were collected at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months and examined using intent-to-treat analysis. The study was conducted from January 22, 2007, to March 6, 2012. Data analysis was performed from July 18, 2012, to October 27, 2015.
Interventions: Two years of 25% CR or AL.
Main outcomes and measures: Self-report questionnaires were administered to measure mood (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II], score range 0-63, higher scores indicating worse mood, and Profile of Mood States [POMS], with a total mood disturbance score range of -32 to 200 and higher scores indicating higher levels of the constructs measured), QOL (Rand 36-Item Short Form, score range 0-100, higher scores reflecting better QOL, and Perceived Stress Scale, score range 0-40, higher scores indicating higher levels of stress), sleep (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI], total score range 0-21, higher scores reflecting worse sleep quality), and sexual function (Derogatis Interview for Sexual Function-Self-report, total score range 24-188, higher scores indicating better sexual functioning).
Results: In all, 218 participants (152 women [69.7%]; mean [SD] age, 37.9 (7.2) years; mean [SD] BMI, 25.1 [1.6]) were included in the analyses. The CR and AL groups lost a mean (SE) of 7.6 (0.3) kg and 0.4 (0.5) kg, respectively, at month 24 (P < .001). Compared with the AL group, the CR group had significantly improved mood (BDI-II: between-group difference [BGD], -0.76; 95% CI, -1.41 to -0.11; effect size [ES], -0.35), reduced tension (POMS: BGD, -0.79; 95% CI, -1.38 to -0.19; ES, -0.39), and improved general health (BGD, 6.45; 95% CI, 3.93 to 8.98; ES, 0.75) and sexual drive and relationship (BGD, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.11 to 2.01; ES, 0.35) at month 24 as well as improved sleep duration at month 12 (BGD, -0.26; 95% CI, -0.49 to -0.02; ES, -0.32) (all P < .05). Greater percent weight loss in the CR group at month 24 was associated with increased vigor (Spearman correlation coefficient, ρ = -0.30) and less mood disturbance (ρ = 0.27) measured with the POMS, improved general health (ρ = -0.27) measured with the SF-36, and better sleep quality per the PSQI total score (ρ = 0.28) (all P < .01).
Conclusions and relevance: In nonobese adults, CR had some positive effects and no negative effects on health-related QOL.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00427193.