This is a Freudian obsession of modern origin, a by-product of Western affluence. People in the West face a grave dilemma: On the one hand, they have an unlimited, almost historically unique, opportunity--They can eat whatever they want whenever they want. Lest they forget, wonderfully tasting food is continuously displayed around them wherever they may be.
On the other hand, if they allow themselves to eat as they desire they will soon find themselves fat, sick and dead. So what is the solution of choice to this dilemma?
Is it an admirable display of discipline? Is it a thoughtful reassessment of life's priorities? No, it turns out modern consumers prefer something much more elemental: a faster metabolism. This is the next best thing to the fountain of youth--the apparent fountain of youth. Its the unrestricted calorie diet, CR in drag.
Unfortunately, despite appearances, this is the antithesis of calorie restriction. CR induces the body to become maximally efficient, to get more done with less, to operate on less fuel than it otherwise would. We don’t know completely how calorie restriction accomplishes this result. But we do know that when calorie restricted, the mitachondria (which produces energy in the cells) produces much less waste, the heart rate slows, body temperature drops and metabolism slows. These adaptations are all very positive for health and longevity.
By contrast, the popularly proclaimed “fat-burning metabolism” produces the opposite. By definition it is designed to get the least done with the most energy, to consume the most calories possible for bodily operations. Does this sound like a desirable condition long term?
This is like shopping for an automobile designed to get the fewest miles per gallon possible. Such an automobile would discharge into its environment much more waste and pollution than its more efficient counterparts. That is exactly what the body must do with its metabolic waste, except that its environment includes the cells and systems of the body.
CR research traces to these processes much, if not most, of the diseases of affluence claiming the lives of most Americans today (i.e. cancer, heart disease and diabetes). Yet, because an over-active metabolism holds the promise of more food for a given waist line, modern Americans persist in their pursuit of products purporting to deliver this effect. Not surprisingly, the few small voices advocating intelligent eating lifestyles cannot compete with the baser impulses of consumers and the industry that serves them.
The bottom line is that people in the end make choices that reflect their priorities. If health and longevity are important priorities, calorie restriction is appealing. If not, there is at least the security to be found in numbers. In a manner of speaking, one might even claim the weight of opinion. I’m reminded of a Bible verse to the effect that “wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction...”; hmm, food for thought.