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July 19th, 2009:

Day Seven: Recap – On the Seventh Day, he Rested… More

Here we are at the end of the first week. No need to beat around the bush, let’s get into it.

Meow Meow drowsy Meow

Meow Meow drowsy Meow

Today was a lazy day. Sedentary is the word they use. I went out shopping, but aside from that minor excursion didn’t really get any exercise to speak of. Calories were high, but not as obscenely high as on Friday and Saturday.

Pretty unremarkable on the whole, and since I’ll be doing a weekly recap that includes this data, let’s just get into it.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 3668
Calories from Fat: 1232
Fat: 121.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 434.16 grams
Fiber: 30.5 grams
Protein 100 grams

Exercise Level: None!

Foods Devoured:

Chocolate Chip Waffles
Peanut M&M’s
Wheat Saltines
Pasta with Breaded Chicken Breast
Orange Juice
Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Chunks
Turkey Meatballs
Potatoes
Salad
Fat Tire
Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Chunks

Yes, there was a beer in there. But you’ll notice that it’s just one this time.

Image Attribution:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mada299/2382356390/

Mad Science Claims that Moving Around Burns More Calories than Sitting Still

A study published this week in the online journal Pediatrics has come to a startling conclusion.

This is science

This is science

According to the article, children who play active video games like Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution burn more calories than children who sit still in one place with jaws slack and eyes buggin’. Using the mighty powers of science, it has been conclusively proven that moving about requires more energy than not moving at all! A follow up study is planned wherein some children will shower daily, and others not one bit. The hypothesis: some correlation exists between the frequency of cleaning filth from the skin folds and the overall bouquet of the human body.

While the basic conclusions of the study seem pretty obvious, it has turned up some worthwhile data.

The study consisted of 14 boys and 9 girls, ages 10-13. They watched television, played DDR at two difficulty levels, and played Wii Sports bowling and boxing. It measured energy expenditure, heart rate, step rate, and perceived exertion.

Wii Boxing or DDR both burned as many calories as walking at about 3.5mph. That’s a brisk pace for a lot of people. Surprising since Wii Boxing, which is played only with your arms, burned as many calories as DDR which is played with the legs and generally involves a fair amount of hopping and scrambling. It may be that the kids were putting their whole bodies into Wii Boxing and getting more out of it than if they were to just flick and waggle their way through a match.

Not surprisingly, Wii Bowling and lower level did not have the same benefit as the more intense games. But it still burned twice as many calories as just watching TV.

Here’s the conclusion straight from the mouth of the science horse:

Conclusions Energy expenditure during active video game play is comparable to moderate-intensity walking. Thus, *for children who spend considerable time playing electronic screen games for entertainment, physically active games seem to be a safe, fun, and valuable means of promoting energy expenditure.

*Emphasis Added

In a time where some are calling for games to carry warning labels stating that they are risk to your health, it’s nice to see some facts proving quite the opposite. As an adult who spends considerable time playing electronic screen games for entertainment it’s reassuring to see the medical establishment condone active gaming as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Via the LA Times

Simple Calorie Counting Made Complicated

With all the complicated diet plans and confusing hoopla out there, you’d think that weight gain and weight loss were mysterious forces beyond human comprehension. It turns out that it’s actually kind of simple.

Miss Hannigan knew that bathtub gin was surprisingly low in calories

Miss Hannigan knew that bathtub gin was surprisingly low in calories

Food is full of calories. Some calories come from fat, some come from sugar, some come from protein, but in the end they’re all used for energy. When your body takes in energy it’s only got two basic choices. It can burn it up for fuel, or store it for later as fat. So the equation is pretty simple – if you take in more energy than you burn up, you’ll pack on fat. If you burn up more energy than you take in, you’ll lose fat.

When you start down the rat hole of weight loss advice, it’s easy to lose sight of the simple truth behind all of it: If you want to lose fat you need to burn more calories than you eat.

So with that in mind, I went online to find out how many calories I actually need to eat in a day. If you google around for daily caloric needs, you’ll find a lot of different options. The sites all seem to use slightly different formulas to arrive at your daily calorie needs, but they all tend to arrive in the same general ballpark. Most of the calculators use your gender, age, height, and current weight to come up with a basal metabolic rate. This is the basic rate that an average person like you would burn up calories if you were at rest all day. Most of the calculators will also ask for your activity level. Active people need to take in more calories than sedentary people.

After getting about 10 results the average for me – assuming a sedentary lifestyle -  is:

2256.43 Calories Per Day

That’s the number of calories I would need to take in to maintain my current weight, provided I’m not burning many calories from exercise.

A bit more investigation turned up this interesting tidbit:

3,500 Calories = 1 lb. of Fat

That means in order to lose a pound of fat in a week, you would need to burn or cut out 500 calories per day either through diet or exercise. On the flip side, eating an extra 500 calories per day would pack on a pound of fat in a week’s time. I find this really helpful to know, since 500 is a pretty easy number to keep in your head when making food choices.

So what does this mean for the Miniimize Me project? Well, my high weight at the start was 177.5 lbs. My goal weight is 149.58. And I’ve got about 83 days left. Let’s see what that works out to…

High Weight of: 177.7 pounds (minus)
Goal Weight of: 149.58 pounds (equals)
28.12 pounds left to lose – which is the same as (times 3,500)
98,420 Calories of fat to be lost over (divided by)
83 days remaining (equals)
1,185.78 Calories Per Day or (times 7)
8,300.48 Calories Per Week which is (divided by 3,500)

I need to lose about 2.37 Pounds Per Week

From what I’ve read so far, 2.37 pounds per week is a little high. Most sites recommend losing one to two pounds per week. If you take the calorie deficit that I’d need to run per day (1,177.35) and subtract it from the number of calories that I need to maintain my basic metabolic rate (2256.43) you end up with the low low figure of 1,079.08 calories per day. That seems low enough that it could trigger a starvation response and actually make weight loss more difficult.

Instead of shooting for 1,079 total calories per day, I’m going to shoot for around 1500 calories combined with exercise and see how things are trending. After a couple of weeks if it looks like I’m not going to be able to reach my goal at that pace I may have to consider cutting back on calories while still getting enough nutrition to support exercising.

Obviously there’s more to the story of weight loss and weight gain, nutrition, and health, than a simple equation between calories in and calories out. But I think that sometimes when you’re neck-deep in contradictory and conflicting information about weight loss, nutrition, and health it’s useful to step back to the basics and see that you are what you eat.

(If you’d like to see some of the concepts in this post illustrated with stick figures – and explained a bit more clearly – check out this site)