Calorie restriction (CR) delays the development of age-associated disease and increases lifespan in rodents, but the effects in humans remain uncertain.
Purpose. Determine the effect of 6 months of CR with or without exercise on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and estimated 10-year CVD risk in healthy non-obese men and women.
Methods. Thirty-six individuals were randomized to one of three groups for 6 months: Control, 100% of energy requirements; CR, 25% calorie restriction; CR+EX, 12.5% CR + 12.5% increase in energy expenditure via aerobic exercise. CVD risk factors were assessed at baseline, 3 and 6 months.
Results. After 6 months, CR and CR+EX lost approximately 10% of body weight. CR significantly reduced triacylglycerol (-31 ± 15 mg/dL) and factor VIIc (-10.7 ± 2.3%). Similarly CR+EX reduced triacylglycerol (-22 ± 8 mg/dL) and additionally reduced LDL-C (-16.0 ± 5.1 mg/dL) and DBP (-4.0 ± 2.1 mmHg). In contrast, both triacylglycerol (24 ± 14 mg/dL) and factor VIIc (7.9 ± 2.3%) were increased in the control group. HDL-cholesterol was increased in all groups while hsCRP was lower in the Controls vs. CR+EX. Estimated 10-year CVD risk significantly declined from baseline by 29% in CR (P< 0.001) and 38% in the CR+EX (P<0.001) while remaining unchanged in the Control group.
Conclusions. Based on combined favorable changes in lipid and blood pressure, caloric restriction with or without exercise that induces weight loss favorably reduces risk for CVD even in already healthy non-obese individuals.