Caloric restriction (CR) mimetics are molecules that produce beneficial effects on health and longevity in model organisms and humans, without the challenges of maintaining a CR diet. Conventional CR mimetics such as metformin, rapamycin and spermidine activate autophagy, leading to recycling of cellular components and improvement of physiological function. We review here novel CR mimetics and anti-aging compounds, such as alpha-ketoglutarate, 4,4'-dimethoxychalcone, fungal polysaccharides, inorganic nitrate, and trientine, highlighting their possible molecular targets and mechanisms of action. The activity of these compounds can be understood within the context of hormesis, a biphasic dose response that involves beneficial effects at low or moderate doses and toxic effects at high doses. The concept of hormesis has widespread implications for the identification of CR mimetics in experimental assays, testing in clinical trials, and use in healthy humans. We also discuss the promises and limitations of CR mimetics and anti-aging molecules for delaying aging and treating chronic diseases.