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(WebMD) -- The CRON diet -- a calorie restricted, optimal nutrition eating plan designed to extend human life -- is not for everybody. And Roy Walford, M.D., a professor emeritus of pathology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and longtime researcher in aging, is the first to admit it. "It is rather difficult and only some people can do it," says the author of "Beyond the 120-Year Diet." "You have to be very motivated." You should also check with your doctor first.

Years of research have shown that severe calorie restriction increases the life span of rodents by 50 percent. For humans, Walford's idea is to eat just enough calories to maintain a body weight 10 to 25 percent below your "set point" -- the weight to which your body naturally gravitates. There's no minimum or maximum number of calories. After all, different body types have differing requirements -- the bigger and more active you are, the more calories your body will consume. But in general, most people following this diet will consume between 1,000 and 1,500 calories a day -- about half of what the typical person now eats.

Eating so few calories can put you under the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals, so Walford suggests taking supplements or at least using his "Diet Planner."

Available on his web site (www.walford.com), this interactive tool helps you figure out how to maximize the vitamins and minerals you get daily. Type in your day's menu and it will tell you whether you're getting enough of 28 nutrients. It can then help you fill in any gaps by identifying the top 10 foods that contain the nutrients you are lacking.

How hard is it to stay on the diet? You be the judge. What follows is a 1,316-calorie menu from "Beyond the 120-Year Diet." If it seems severe, take comfort in the fact that Walford suggests easing into the diet. "It's best to get to a lower calorie intake gradually, over six months to a year," he says.

Breakfast

Omelet

Ingredients:
  • 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 1 slice mixed-grain bread
  • 1 cup nonfat milk

Lunch

MegaMeal Fruit Salad 400 Made with:

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/3 cups chopped strawberries
  • 3/4 cup cubed cantaloupe
  • 1/3 cup sliced mango (or any sweet fruit)
  • 1 small kiwi, chopped

Topped with the following dressing:

  • 8 raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 brazil nut, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons raw wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons flax meal (ground flax seed)
  • 2 teaspoons brewer's yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or use cinnamon, ginger, or allspice)
  • 2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast

Dinner

Ingredients:
  • 3 ounces pink salmon, broiled, topped with 6 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 medium sweet potato, baked
  • 1 cup peas and onions (frozen, prepared)
  • 1 cup red wine (optional, add 80 calories)

© 2000 Healtheon/WebMD. All rights reserved.



RELATEDS AT WebMD:
Turn back the clock
Foods to stay young
It's the calories that count, not the food combinations

RELATED SITES:
Web site for Roy Walford, M.D.
Calorie restriction for the purpose of retarding aging: Frequently asked questions
National Institute on Aging
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