The CRON-diet (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition) is a nutrient-rich, reduced calorie diet developed by Roy Walford, Lisa Walford, and Brian M. Delaney. The CRON-diet involves calorie restriction in the hope that the practice will improve health and retard aging, while still attempting to provide the recommended daily amounts of various nutrients. Other names include CR-diet, Longevity diet, and Anti-Aging Plan. Several people, including the Walfords and Delaney, founded the CR Society International to promote the CRON-diet.
Proponents of the CRON-diet believe that everyone has what they call a "set-point": a weight, specific to an individual, at which each naturally stays when they eat their usual daily diet. Proponents believe that the set-point is determined through heredity and childhood eating habits. Proponents recommend that adherents remain 10–25% under their set-point, suggesting that this is necessary for the diet to be maximally effective.
A guideline that proponents use to determine an individual's set-point is to measure that person's body fat content. Proponents state that this should be 10–15% for females and 6–10% for males. Proponents suggest the use of skinfold test tools (they specifically recommend the "Fat-O-Meter"), certain digital scales, densiometry, and/or bioelectrical impedance analysis to determine the body fat content. Proponents then use the current weight and body fat content to determine the goal weight (below the set point), and plan and follow a preliminary diet until the goal weight is reached.
Next, the proponent determines the level of caloric restriction they wish to implement in their regular eating pattern. Proponents recommend a goal of restricting intake by 20%. The actual daily amount eaten depends on the adherent's basal metabolic rate (BMR). A common daily intake is 1800 calories per day.
The Walfords propose three meals in their book, but variation is possible. Adherents can vary the number of meals they eat per day in order to fit their schedules: typically, this is achieved by combining calorie-dense and calorie-lean foods in different ways. Proponents also use "supplements", which refers to vitamin pills as well as certain high-nutrition foods (which are necessarily calorie-lean). The Walfords describe these foods as "nutrient super-chargers"; examples include kombu, brewers yeast, wheat bran, wheat germ, shiitake mushrooms, non-fat dry milk, soybeans, and tofu. These "nutrient super-chargers" are used frequently to boost meals' nutritional density.
The Walfords propose that adherents eat three meals per day. They suggest that adherents cook eight meals on a specific day of the week, and then freeze these meals to use during the entire week. They refer to this process as the "Quantity-Cook-and Freeze Option", and the meals themselves as "One-a-day MegaMeals". They suggest that adherents use two "Free-Choice Recipes" for the other two courses per day.
Adherents may compose their own meals. The Walfords caution that such meals must be planned exactly and contain all the required RDA nutrients. There are computer tools available to plan meals, including the official Dr. Walfords Interactive Diet Planner and the unofficial CRON-o-Meter.
Books on the CRON-diet
Books on the CRON-diet include:
- The Longevity Diet by Brian M. Delaney, Lisa Walford, and Roy Walford, New York: Marlowe & Co., 2005 – ISBN 1-56858-309-5
- Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2003 – ISBN 978-0-316-82945-8
- Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years by Roy Walford, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000 - ISBN 1-56858-157-2
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Roy Walford and Lisa Walford, New York: A Four Walls Eight Windows, 1994 - ISBN 1-56858-049-5 or ISBN 978-1-56858-049-4
- CRON-diet as a life-extension diet
- Walford, R.L., S.B. Harris, and M.W. Gunion. 1992. Calorically restricted low-fat nutrient-dense diet in Biosphere 2 significantly lowers blood glucose, total leukocyte count, cholesterol, and blood pressure in humans. Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences, USA, V. 89, n. 23: 11533-11537
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford (page 42 to 44)
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford (page 19)
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford (page 45)
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford (page 294)
- The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford (page 86)