Eating slightly less than you need

10 to 15% caloric restriction increases life expectancy.


In an ideal world, everyone would know exactly daily calories requirements. Each body cell would get exactly enough energy and nutrients for use.

Practically, this is impossible. Physical activity, digestion, exercise, weather conditions, stress, psychology and many other factors change calorie requirements. Most of us end up eating more than needed, due to easy and cheap availability of high caloric food.

A paying strategy is to eat 10 to 15% less than you need. Based on your weight, daily physical activity, many online tools and applications will advise a daily calorie intake to maintain your weight. Subtract 10 to 15% from the figure shown.

This has been adopted by Japanese and Confucian cultures, naming it “Hara hachi bun me” (腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ) which means eat until you are 80% full. In places like Okinawa, this is observed and we see surprising occurrences of centenarians. Caloric restriction alone will not make you live past 100, but it certainly contributes to it.

Tracking food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal for a week will let you know if you are actually following your targeted goal.

This can mean not finishing your plate, stop eating before fulling full. It might also mean stop eating out and having to cook to follow this goal.

Caloric restriction will decrease growth hormone IGF-1, insuline production, lower core body temperature and improve nutrient cell as well as reactive oxygen mechanisms. It is commonly accepted that caloric restriction is able to retard the onset of a variety of diseases related to aging, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Populations who eat less such as in Okinawa, Southern Italy and Greece also have significant higher life expectancy.

Here’s what worked for me:

  • Eating 10 to 15% less than what is generally recommended
  • Portions in restaurants and fast food places are generally bigger than needed. I do not finish dishes when eating out. If you are eating with others, you can eat more slowly to “finish” at the same time. You can set aside the rest. It’s also a good idea to skip sweet desserts and cakes when eating out. If you must get something at the end, order tea.
  • Eating less does not mean skipping meals, drastic caloric reduction, or drastic changes in your eating habits. In your case, make sure to consult a health professional. And 10 to 15% calorie restriction should not be for children or teenagers!
  • cook with fresh vegetables and fruits only. No sugar, no white flour, no saturated or animal fat. This will make eating extra calories hard for me!


  • Michael Ristowa, Sebastian Schmeissera. Extending life span by increasing oxidative stress. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. Volume 51, Issue 2, 15 July 2011, Pages 327–336
  • Stephen D. Hursting, Jackie A. Lavigne, David Berrigan, Susan N. Perkins, and J. Carl Barrett. Calorie Restriction, Aging, and Cancer Prevention: Mechanisms of Action and Applicability to Humans. Annual Review of Medicine. Vol. 54: 131-152 (February 2003)
  • Willcox BJ1, Willcox DC, Todoriki H, Fujiyoshi A, Yano K, He Q, Curb JD, Suzuki M.. Caloric restriction, the traditional Okinawan diet, and healthy aging: the diet of the world’s longest-lived people and its potential impact on morbidity and life span. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Oct;1114:434-55.

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