High In Calories

04/18/2011

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Tie: Counting calories doesn't seem effective, I gained 9 pounds this week.
Guy: Were you making sure to eat fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis?
Tie: No, I was just counting them, exactly as I was told. I averaged 9000 a day, I challenge anyone else to do better.

© Jonathan Kroupa 2011
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Calorie Counter

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 04/17/2011

Related Comic: High In Calories

Three weeks ago I was a celiac, last week I was off candy and desserts, but there wasn't anything clever to say about the experience. This past week I was a calorie counter.

The Diet: Eating anything I want, keep myself to an average of 2000 calories consumed each day.

The Experience:

Counting calories can sometimes be tricky. If you eat at a restaurant that is not a big chain it is unlikely they will have the nutrional facts on their dishes. MyFood-A-Pedia is a great start, which has many popular foods and combinations, but they don't have sesame chicken. I was forced to go off some random results from Googling to discover that some reciepe of sesame chicken was roughly 720 calories for 2 cups of chicken. Which was about half of the portion I received when I ate out for lunch on Tuesday. Between that and the rice I consumed I was well over 1000 calories, and would have been pretty close to 2000 if I had eaten everything I was given, which would have been easy.

It turns out you can establish most of the calorie count by taste. If it tastes good, it is probably more calories than you are going to feel comfortable with. If it is as satisfying as eating sand you can have it all day and never worry. Case in point, 16 cups of raw cauliflower is only 400 calories.

At the beginning of the week as I racked up the calories and I realized I was getting closer to my limit I would feel more hungry. As the week went on though I found overall I felt less hungry during the day, even though I was eating fewer calories and continuing to moderately exercise most days. My calorie intact for Monday through Saturday was:

  1. 2274
  2. 2016
  3. 2651
  4. 1952
  5. 1624
  6. 1495

Based on a few website calorie computers, my daily caloric burn rate is something like 2600 a day with a little bit of exercise. This is based on my height and weight, without any other knowledge of the unique properties of my body. Wednesday was my birthday, and I ended up having more calories than I felt comfortable with.

3500 calories is supposed to be equal to one pound. If my normal burn rate is 2600 a day that means over the six days I consumed 3588 less calories than I would in a normal week to maintain my weight. I also exercised what I consider to be my normal amount. Twice this week I went to the gym and lifted weights for about 30 minutes, and then did roughly 30 minutes of cardio training. I taught my Aikido class at SLCC and attended an Aikido class Friday evening, and Saturday I went jogging in the morning and then played Ultimate Frisbee in the afternoon.

The Result:

Weighing myself this morning (Sunday) I am 4.4 pounds lighter than I was when I weighed myself Monday morning. Because a person's weight can fluxuate during the day I always weighed myself just after waking up and using the restroom, to try and have a consistent basis. After my binge on Wednesday, which included a number of salty foods, I was nearly back up to my start weight on Monday, I think this depressing fact helped me get through the next three days with significantly fewer calories.

A look at the things I ate and the portions I used leads me to believe normally I probably consume anywhere from 2500 to 3500 calories on a daily basis. Small wonder that I've been gaining weight since starting a job in an office last summer. Unlike other diets of exclusion, the nice thing about calorie counting is you can have whatever you want, you just need to stop at some point. Over the week I had a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I also had some pudding, a brownie, several bowls of captain crunch cereal (sometimes dry, as I was out of milk) and quite a bit of hot chocolate (sugar free). When I started to become worried that I was taking in too many calories too early in the day I started drinking a lot of ice water.

On the subject of ice water, people will often say it is good to drink cold water because you burn calories warming it up. I did a little research a couple of years ago about this and it was revealed you would need to drink around 100 gallons of ice water to burn one pound. Water is good for you, and it is zero calories, but lets not pretend that people are losing weight by drinking it, unless they are now substituting water in place of something else.

Overall I've been very impressed with the results of calorie counting. It tempts me to continue doing this instead of moving to another diet fad, but maybe I'll just come back to this when I run out of other ideas.

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