Julian "Play Money" Dibbell writes for New York Magazine about his experiment with a Calorie Restrition diet — living as close to the starvation threshold as possible, in order to radically prolong your life.
"Michael, could you hand Don the arugula?" April calls over her shoulder, looking up from the laptop that's always near to hand as she cooks, loaded with an interactive diet-planning program that helps not only count calories but track the twenty other nutrients without which CR would just be a glorified form of anorexia. "Don, I need you to put 24 grams on each plate, please." And so Don Dowden, attorney at law, commences weighing arugula on an electronic postage scale, carefully adding a leaf here, removing one there, like a drug dealer parsing out dime bags. Tall, dark-haired, craggy, Don gets by on a ration of about 2,000 calories a day and swears by its rejuvenating effects. "I used to wear glasses, but I don't wear glasses anymore," he says. "I don't have 20/20 vision, but I can drive, and I can read the paper, and I'm 74."
"You're 74 years old?" I blurt, not so much astonished as simply confused. It's not that I can't see Don's age in his face and skin, now that I know to look for it. But there's something in the way his body moves, the way he holds it–an ease and an assuredness–that doesn't quite square with the fact that he was born before FDR took office.
"He gets that a lot," says Michael, a trace of glee in his otherwise quiet, clipped, north-of-the-border tone. April has him chopping asparagus now, while she continues crunching numbers. Tonight's calculations are based on Michael's caloric requirements, and those requirements are as strict as they come. Unlike April's daily average of about 1,300 calories, which really is an average (she likes to go out drinking and dining with friends on weekends, and doesn't mind enduring a few 1,000-calorie weekdays to save up for the splurge), Michael's regimen of 1,913 calories a day is exactly that: 1,913 calories every single day, 30 percent of them derived from fat, 30 percent from protein, and 40 percent from carbohydrates. Cooking for him is the same elaborate exercise in dietary Sudoku it is for all CR die-hards, only more so.