Calorie restriction (CR), a nutritional intervention of reduced energy intake but with adequate nutrition, has been shown to extend healthspan and lifespan in rodent and primate models. Accumulating data from observational and randomized clinical trials indicate that CR in humans results in some of the same metabolic and molecular adaptations that have been shown to improve health and retard the accumulation of molecular damage in animal models of longevity. In particular, moderate CR in humans ameliorates multiple metabolic and hormonal factors that are implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, the leading causes of morbidity, disability and mortality. In this paper, we will discuss the effects of CR in non-obese humans on these physiological parameters. Special emphasis is committed to recent clinical intervention trials that have investigated the feasibility and effects of CR in young and middle-aged men and women on parameters of energy metabolism and metabolic risk factors of age-associated disease in great detail. Additionally, data from individuals who are either naturally exposed to CR or those who are self-practicing this dietary intervention allows us to speculate on longer-term effects of more severe CR in humans.
Keywords: Age-associated diseases; Aging; CALERIE; Calorie restriction; Energy metabolism; Metabolic adaptation.
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