Calories In / Calories Out

Today’s Workout

20 min ring practice
Sit-ups, max reps in 2 min
Burpees, max reps in 2 minI read something very interesting in Gary Taubes’s newest book, Why We Get Fat, that had me thinking about the calorie expenditure model of weight loss. That model says that in order to lose weight we must eat fewer calories than we expend through physical activity. Put fuel in and if you need more before the day is up, you will burn what you have stored in the past. Easy to understand, right? Taubes points out a very interesting flaw in this thinking. His argument goes like this:

A pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. According to the theory, if you want to lose a pound a week, you should reduce your calories eaten by 500 per day. Seven days times 500 calories is 3500 calories. Voila! You will lose a pound every week as long as you keep it up.

The interesting part comes in when you start to think about what it would take to go from being a lean 25 year old to an obese 50 year old. If you gained 2 pounds per year you’d increase your weight by 50 pounds by your 50th year. What would that take, according to this theory? How much of a glutton would you have to be every day to make this happen? An extra 20 calories a day. That’s all. 3 bites of an apple, 2 oz. of soda, a bite of a croissant. At less than 1% of the recommended intake for a middle aged woman who’s daily activity level is described as cooking and sewing and less than 1/2% for an equally sedentary man it would be impossible to manage. Just one bite too many and it’s all over.

Does it really make sense to think of our bodies like engines? What if things were as simple as that but in a completely different way? Until recently in our history no one ate according to calories and millions of people managed to stay lean. Were millions of people getting that lucky and hitting the exact caloric mark that was right for them? Would you be willing to let go of the idea of calories?

The photographer captured!

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