Persistence of weight loss and acquired behaviors 2 y after stopping a 2-y calorie restriction intervention

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr;105(4):928-935. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.146837. Epub 2017 Mar 8.


Background: Calorie restriction (CR) influences aging processes and extends average and maximal life spans. The CALERIE 2 (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy Phase 2) study was the first randomized clinical trial to examine the metabolic and psychological effects of CR in nonobese humans.Objective: We conducted a 2-y follow-up study of adults who underwent 2 y of CR or ad libitum (control) consumption and determined whether weight loss and acquired behaviors persisted after the study ended when participants determined their own lifestyle behaviors.Design: In this prospective, longitudinal study, we assessed differences in weight, body composition, psychological function, and energy expenditure in 39 nonobese [body mass index (in kg/m2): 22-28] men and women (25% CR: n = 24; control: n = 15) 12 and 24 mo after they completed the CALERIE 2 study at Pennington Biomedical.Results: Of 39 participants who were in the follow-up study, 29 subjects (CR: n = 18; control: n = 11) completed all visits at follow-up months 12 and 24. After the CR intervention, a mean ± SEM weight loss of 9.0 ± 0.6 kg was observed in the CR group, in which only 54% of the weight was regained 2 y later. Despite such a regain, weight, the percentage of body fat, and fat mass remained significantly reduced from baseline throughout follow-up and remained significantly less than in the control group (P < 0.05). At follow-up, the CR group retained higher degrees of dietary restraint and avoidance of certain foods.Conclusion: After a 2-y intensive CR intervention, ∼50% of CR-induced weight loss was maintained 2 y later, which was probably the result of lasting effects on acquired behaviors and dietary restraint. This trial was registered at as NCT00943215.

Keywords: CALERIE study; calorie restriction; diet; energy expenditure; metabolic adaptation; mood; quality of life; weight loss.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight Maintenance*
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss*

Associated data