Sunday, June 27, 2010


Education is a wonderful thing.  Funny how you don't think so at the time. 

I remember when I was younger and in school.  Homework, homework, homework.  UGGGH. I HATED homework.  Long division (do they even do that anymore), symbiotic relationships, dangling participles, World Wars.  UGGGH. 

Now, I don't keep up in science, math or grammar, but I DO find myself periodically engrossed by a PBS special on WWI or the Civil War, or the Civil Rights Movement.  Suspiciously, PBS has no documentaries on long division.  Ever wonder why that is??

I interviewed a high level executive at PBS (ok, not really, but it makes it sound official doesn't it???) and he said that people are interested in history because history repeats itself.  The struggles that America faces right now, have been faced in other countries in other decades.

So, when I turn to my nutritional education, it is comforting to know that nutrition "repeats itself".  The struggles that I have now, have been had by other people at other times. But where to start.  Just like a football team practicing "the basics", the best place to start for me, was at the beginning... the basics. 

The basic premise of nutrition and weight loss is easy. E>I.   Expenditure>intake.  It is that simple.  If we expend more energy than we take in, the weight will come off. This is GREAT news for a nutritionally uneducated guy from Missouri.  You see, weight loss does not rely on nutrition, it only relies on this caloric formula "E>I". It doesn't matter WHICH foods you eat, as long as "E>I". This basic formula is something that even the nutritionally uneducated can understand.  In fact, it may be the ONLY part of nutrition that we DO have knowledge of. 

I have known this formula for a long time, but the light finally came on when I was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser. In Season 8, Suzy Orman, well known financial consultant, attempted to pick the winner from the last 8 or so contestants based on their credit score.  She did something interesting.  She had picked her winner, but she changed her answer based on one NON-financial related piece of information. The person that she had picked had not been tracking their calories.  Now, these contestant was working out so much he couldn't POSSIBLY eat enough to gain weight, but much MORE could he have lost had he been tracking his intake??? 

Thankfully, I have never been large enough to need to be on the biggest loser, but the same premise holds for me, doesn't it??  In fact, it is even MORE important for me.  I do not workout at the same duration or intensity that those contestants do, so I am not expending NEARLY as much as those contestants do, so the margin between intake and expenditure is much smaller.  This makes it even MORE vital that I track these numbers. 

I mentioned last post that exercising alone won't do it. For most of us, this is true. Take running for example. You burn, on average, 600-700 calories per hour. If you run 25 miles/week, that is 4-5 hours. This means you are expending 24-3500 calories/week. This is good enough to burn almost a pound a week, but imagine if you added that to a 3500/week calorie deficit. That translates to eating just 500 fewer calories per day than your body requires. That's not much.

While exercise is good, exercise combined with controlled intake is a winning ticket.

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