Calorie Restriction (CR) Diet

Starting CR: Steps To Take

September 6, 2009

Remember there are only two rules to follow on a Calorie Restriction diet:

  1. Get 100% of your nutritional needs
  2. Cut calories significantly (as much as 20% to 30%)

If you have decided to try the diet out, here are some suggestions on steps you can take.

CR STEP 1 - Get The Tools You Need

First and most importantly, you need to track what you eat and then enter it in some sort of software that will tell you what % of your nutrition you are getting. This is the major downside of CR - it can be a pain. When I do it, I stay on CR. When I don't, my diet is not as good and I don't consider myself on CR. Like every such opinion, others disagree.

I strongly recommend that anyone, whether or not they intend to follow CR, track nutrients for a few days. It can be an eye opener to see how malnourished one is. You might think of it as a game. How quickly and close can you (and friends and coworkers) get to meeting 100% of your nutritional needs from the food you eat? This is a great motivator for changing to a healthier diet.

One piece of free software to track nutrients is CRON-O-Meter which is available here:

If you join the Calorie Restriction Society as a dues paying member, you also get software:

You also will need some sort of scale, along with measuring spoons, cups, etc. My wife bought me a small food scale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It is a Salter brand that gives grams (and ounces) and works well.

I find it useful to carry around a slip of paper and simply jot down what and how much I eat, then enter the data in the evening.

CR STEP 2 - Measure Your Baseline Before Changing

Enter the data for a few days, eating as you would normally, to see how many calories is usual for you. If you are like me and others who have done this, you will also be surprised at how shockingly low you are in various nutrients.

You may find it hard to keep eating the way you are when you see how deficient it is. I thought I was eating pretty well - fruits, vegetables, fish, little other meat, almost no junk food. I learned differently.

Take your temperature. A biomarker for successful CR is that your temperature drops. Do this at the same time of day whenever you do it, since your body temperature goes up and down.

Weigh yourself. You should keep doing this, because it ultimately determines your calorie level.

If you want to take the effort, go to a doctor and get various tests - your results will improve with CR within weeks or a few months. Here is one list of such tests:

CR STEP 3 - Start Improving Your Diet

Now begin changing your diet to up your vitamins and minerals to 100% of your daily value and cut your calories. Here is one person's approach that seemed very logical and smart to me:

Bob Cavanaugh's Personal CR Account

Cutting your calories is tricky, because no one knows what is right for humans. The ultimate value will be determined by you by what level you are willing to let your weight (BMI) go down to, given your activity level.

Here is one estimate where you enter some data and it calculates what % of CR you are on:

Calorie Restriction Calculator

One approach I think is reasonable is to cut 300 to 500 calories from your usual amount and weigh yourself every day. If you start losing more than a lb a week, up your calories for a while. In all cases, make sure you are getting your full nutrition.

CR Alternative Approach - Have Standard Daily Meals

It is laborious to measure your food every single day to ensure you are getting all your nutrition and not eating too much. Some people take another approach. They eat essentially the same food each day, or they have a few standard daily diets that they measure once and then use over and over again. In some cases, they create a single dish, like a stew, for days in advance that they know has 100% of their daily nutrition, and they eat that stew each day. The advantage is that you don't spend time tracking what you eat and, as an added bonus, you can get a lot of your weekly cooking done in a single day.


If you are low on some nutrient and curious about what has that nutrient, go to:

NutritonData Nutrient Search Tool,

enter the nutrient you want and set the search to "per 200 calories", not "100 gram serving" which is the default. You will get back an ordered list of foods, first ones better. I love this website. When you click on a food, a massive amount of nutritional data comes up. Be sure to scroll down the page.

Here are easy to snack foods you can have at the end of the day to pick up specific, sometimes hard to get, nutrients you are still low in:

Brazilnuts - 1 nut gets you 137% of selenium for 33 calories;

Oysters - 2 oysters, 16 grams, gets you 97% of your zinc for 11 calories, along with 51% of your B12 and 36% of copper for the day. I had never eaten oysters until someone pointed out you can buy a small can of them boiled. I get a small can of Crown Prince, Premium Boiled Whole Oysters packed in Water, which lasts for some time.

Wheatgrass juice - If you can get hold of good wheatgrass juice, 3/4 cup, about 50 calories, will take care of Vitamins K (360%), B5 (Pantothenic acid)(144%), and E (96%).

Molasses (must be Blackstrap, not regular) - One tablespoon, 58 calories, gets you a nice dose of calcium (20%), iron(20%), potassium (20%), manganese(15%), magnesium (12%), selenium (5%), copper (5%). I like Plantation Blackstrap Unsulphured Molasses brand.

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