Impact of calorie restriction on energy metabolism in humans

Exp Gerontol. 2020 May:133:110875. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2020.110875. Epub 2020 Feb 11.


Calorie restriction (CR) is the most potent, non-pharmacological intervention to support metabolic health. The effects of calorie restriction exceed weight loss. Consistent throughout many studies, calorie restriction induces a reduction in energy expenditure that is larger than the loss of metabolic mass, i.e. fat-free mass and fat mass, can explain. Per prevailing theories of mammalian aging, this disproportionate reduction in metabolic rate, defined as metabolic adaptation, reduces oxidative damage and thereby delays age-associated declines in physiological function. The aim of this narrative review is to investigate the origins of CR-induced metabolic adaptation. From a physiological standpoint this likely relates to the composition of body weight loss, reductions in insulin secretion, thyroid and leptin concentrations, and increased mitochondrial energy efficiency. Behavioral factors including physical activity and eating behaviors likely also play a role, specifically to prevent weight regain. Future studies are required to understand the interindividual differences in the response to CR, e.g. by sex, physical activity, or mitochondrial capacity, and to assess the long-term implications of CR for weight regain.

Keywords: Adaptive thermogenesis; Calorie restriction; Energy efficiency; Energy requirements; Weight loss; Weight regain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Weight Loss