Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Sep 2008

The CR Way: Using the Secrets of Calorie Restriction for a Longer, Healthier Life

The CR Way describes the role of calories in aging and how to get maximum nutrition per calorie for good health.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.

The CR Way

Forget about deprivation or starvation. In their book The CR Way, Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill describe the abundant benefits of providing the body with less dietary energy, that is, fewer calories than it is used to getting, without sacrificing the enjoyment of food. Paul and Meredith are not only firm believers in but also dedicated practitioners of “CR,” Calorie Restriction. What they advocate is eating delicious, nutrient-dense food that delivers maximum nutrition per calorie, which is the opposite of empty calories. Their calorie-restricted diet is based on decades of research, including recent studies from the National Institute on Aging, Harvard University, Washington University, and their own empirical testing.

Readers of Life Extension magazine are familiar with Dr. Stephen Spindler’s impressive work in the field of calorie restriction science. In the introduction of The CR Way, Dr. Spindler states, “McGlothin and Averill take the science of CR and craft a practical, easy-to-follow, and comprehensive action plan. The CR Way makes it possible for anyone—from the neophyte to the serious longevist—to follow their vision for a better and healthier life.”

In the July 2007 issue of Life Extension magazine, we reported on Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill and the Calorie Restriction Society’s ongoing Research Project. Begun in 2002, this is the only longitudinal study of long-term calorie restriction in humans. The first two phases of this trial have already attracted worldwide attention for the remarkable longevity benefits and age-slowing effects of calorie restriction.1-4 Now, phase 3 is looking at its genetic and cell-signaling aspects.

Less is More

Less is More

You can use The CR Way to stay strong, vigorous, and youthful well into your centennial years. When it comes to living a longer, healthier life, research increasingly attests to the role of food. And, in a nutshell, less is more. The CR Way is a welcoming introduction to a lifestyle based on calorie restriction that includes many enhancements to ensure its benefits are realized—good sleep, glucose control, stress management through meditation, moderate exercise, and fun.

The book begins by demystifying how the aging process can be naturally slowed by eating less food, particularly fried foods, high-glucose foods, and those made with white flour or sugar. As McGlothin and Averill explain in easily accessible terms, the body responds to the low-level stress produced by lower food intake by reducing the rate of cell growth while preserving irreplaceable cells. Spurred by activation of a family of vital youth genes, the natural reaction in response to calorie restriction triggers an array of positive biological effects including:

  • Minimizing body fat, reducing the risk of heart disease and other age-related decline.

  • Inhibiting cell mutation, which provides cancer protection.

  • Lowering blood glucose levels, protecting against diabetes and other diseases.

  • Decreasing inflammation, warding off arthritis and wrinkles.

  • Activating brain-alertness chemicals, improving concentration and mood.

  • Promoting deep, restful sleep, helping the whole body to function better.

  • Increasing energy levels, supporting a more active and full life.

  • Creating a more youthful physiology, translating into looking, as well as feeling, younger than your biological age.

More Than Just Losing Weight

Besides revealing the amazing longevity benefits of eating less, The CR Way provides a step-by-step plan for reaping them. McGlothin and Averill take pains to show that all readers who want to can benefit by adopting whichever calorie-reduction and other lifestyle practices fit their preferences and degrees of commitment. The authors advise starting slowly, reducing total daily calories by a realistic 5%—if that. They emphasize that The CR Way is not a weight-loss plan, though most people who practice it do lose some weight. For people of healthy weight, eating wisely is much more important than losing weight.

Features of The CR Way

  • A nutritious, multi-course breakfast, beginning with an appetizer to facilitate optimal insulin metabolism.

  • Exercise that stimulates the body and mind, including yoga and brain-boosters.

  • Emphasizing improvements in health and longevity rather than sacrifices usually associated with weight loss.

  • An enticing variety of flavorful vegetables, beans, grains, fruit, fish, and healthful fats.

  • Simple tactics for keeping track of calorie consumption and critical benchmarks, such as blood pressure, heart status, and osteoporosis risk.

  • Stress management through meditation and eating plans that promote relaxation, happiness, and better sleep.

  • More energy—by promoting efficient energy production at the cellular level.

Easy-to-Follow Action Plan

Living The CR Way

Part I introduces the basics of calorie restriction and of The CR Way: the value of eating to live well and the valuable guidance of practicing calorie restriction as you like it.

Part II defines the benefits of The CR Way to both the body and the mind. Part III presents the plan in a way that is designed to help people actually do what is described. Recipes, equipment, and food recommendations are all explained.

To help get you started, McGlothin and Averill provide a selection of delicious recipes—lemon-ginger sweet potatoes, pea soup with tarragon, savory salmon sandwich, and more—plus sample menus. Part IV includes useful appendices. Besides providing FAQs (e.g., “How do you handle hunger?”), the bibliography, and a glossary, the authors make it clear that they appreciate the giants in the field on whose shoulders they are standing by describing them in CR Groundbreakers. Following this history, the resveratrol appendix provides a glimpse into the future (and the present) of calorie restriction mimetics.

The CR Way‘s publicity has called it controversial and compelling. And it certainly is controversial, given the strong contrast between The CR Way and the lifestyles of two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese. But even that leaves 100 million Americans who maintain healthy weight and who could reap the benefits of The CR Way by merely tweaking their lifestyles. And, of course, the book is compelling. Who wouldn’t like to believe that more years of good health can be had relatively easily?

Lemon-Ginger Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are so delicious that even when prepared simply, they are very satisfying.

Serving Suggestions

This recipe can be used as a tease meal or a side dish with a main meal. Makes four 2 ½-ounce (70 grams) servings with some left for tease meals.


1 medium-large sweet potato

(10.5 ounces, 300 grams)

Sprinkle of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon or more as desired

Dressing for individual servings:

¼ teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste

Sprinkling of lemon juice

6 grams extra virgin olive oil


—Peel and 1/3-inch dice the sweet potatoes.

—Sprinkle with lemon juice to reduce oxidation.

—Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, add the sweet potatoes.

—Cook at medium boil for 4½ minutes. Drain.

—Spread the potatoes out on a plate for cooling.

—Sprinkle with lemon juice to reduce oxidation.

—Sprinkle with ground ginger for a stronger flavor and to reduce oxidation.

—Drizzle olive oil for flavor and to help control glucose levels.

Pea Soup with Tarragon

Serving Suggestions

Serve immediately as soup or drain and serve as vegetable dish. If you are not using all the soup at the moment, drain the remaining vegetables, reserving the broth. Save vegetables and broth separately to use as soup, as a vegetable dish, or as ingredients. Makes four 5-ounce (150-gram) servings with some left for tease meals.


1 large bay leaf

1 medium-large onion (240 grams)

2 teaspoons ground dried tarragon

2 teaspoons dried basil

1½ teaspoons ground rosemary or

2½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms or

1 10-ounce package frozen shiitake mushrooms

1 pound fresh or frozen organic peas


—Add the bay leaf, onion, tarragon, basil, and rosemary to a saucepan with 6 to 8 cups water. Bring water to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.

—Add mushrooms. Return to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes on medium heat.

—Add the peas. Return to a boil. Boil lightly for 1 to 3 minutes or until tender.

—Remove the bay leaf before serving.


Nutrition Information



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* Retinol activity equivalents

Nutrition Information



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Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill have appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, 20/20, ABC’s The Nightly News, Good Morning America, and most recently ABC’s Living to be 150—Can You Do It? hosted by Barbara Walters. They are currently broadcasting a 100-city national radio tour to letpeople know about The CR Way.

The CR Way: Using the Secrets of Calorie Restriction for a Longer, Healthier Life by Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill ISBN: 978-0-06-137098-4 Collins, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Publication date: April 2008. Trade Paperback Original, 320 pages, Retail price: $15.95; Member price: $11.25. Item #33806

For more information about calorie restriction, please visit the following websites:


1. Fontana L, Meyer TE, Klein S, Holloszy JO. Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6659-63.

2. Meyer TE, Kovács SJ, Ehsani AA, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Fontana L. Long-term caloric restriction ameliorates the decline in diastolic function in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Jan 17;47(2):398-402.

3. Fontana L, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Premachandra BN. Effect of Long-term calorie restriction with adequate protein and micronutrients on thyroid hormones. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Aug;91(8):3232-5.

4. Fontana L, Klein S, Holloszy JO. Long-term low-protein, low-calorie diet and endurance exercise modulate metabolic factors associated with cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Dec;84(6):1456-62.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Health Advisor at 1-800-226-2370.