Saturday, 8 August 2015

Not all calories were created (or burned off) equally

Despite being a Weight Watcher, I don't really pay too much attention to calories. I only use calorie information in the absence of pro-points (by using the extremely rough '40cals = 1 pro-point' rule). For example, the last day I was queueing in Costa Coffee and they had the cals info beside each drink. Knowing this information helps guide me (and others I'm sure) to choose an appropriate drink instead of ordering blind. I am still not over the fact a Butlers Hot Chocolate (without cream) is FIFTEEN pro-points!

I'll have a Tall Iced Coffee please...

It's also true that not all calories are created equally. I know the calories in a bag of salt and vinegar taytos are different to the same value of steamed veg on a plate. A couple of sources have plated up various foods of the with the same calorie content (e.g. link here) and it seeing it laid out like that can be eye-opening. Then despite all this, the calorie value of a plate of fruit have to be more beneficial to the body than the calories in a sugary snack. 

Each of these plates contain 200 cals

Where Weight Watchers and calorie counting differ however is when it comes to Low Fat foods. While 2 litres of Diet Coke is 0 pro-points, half an avocado is 4 pro-points. It doesn't take a scientist to work out which is better for you. Again, I understand why and how the weight watchers system is devised the way it is - it works because it applies a universal rule (pro-pointing) across all foods - but as we know now all calories were created equally.

Dust... anyone... no?

Anyway... the point I was getting to was this: Have you ever tried to burn off a certain amount of calories intentionally? Let me explain, I was away with work last week and grabbed a quick lunch from Burger King (I know, I know). After work that evening I was back in the hotel and out of boredom, ventured up to the gym. In the three years I've been doing WW, I've never been inside a gym. I stepped up on the cross trainer and it asked me a few questions about weight, height, gender. The last question: Enter Goal (Distance/Pace/Calories). I hit Calories and typed in 500 as my goal (remembering that my BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger at lunch was somewhere in around there)... and off I started.

10 minutes passed and the sweat was starting to build up, 15 minutes passed and I had barely hit 20% of my goal. WTF!? I quickly re-assessed my situation and lowered my goal to 300 calories (thanks to the handy minus button sitting there like a temptress) and I trudged on. It took around 40 minutes to hit 300 on machine and bloody hell I felt every bit of it. 

300... My revised goal

I have never every thought about the calories I burn off when exercising and looked at it purely on calories worked off. When I run, I get a 'Run Summary' at the end and I never pay attention to the calories burned - I see it as '30 minutes running' as opposed to '400 calories' but since my session on the cross trainer, I cannot get over the amount of work it took to work off 300 calories (about the same as a single mars bar).

I'm not going to change to a Calories In vs Calories Out kinda guy but seeing a different way of working off calories has certainly opened my eyes to the effort and energy it takes to burn off that sneaky pack of Yellow M&Ms you might eat in the car on your way home from work. DAMN IT! *laces up runners, goes for a run*









5 comments:

  1. Instead of how thinking many calories, ask yourself where the food came from and if it's nutritious. The best results gave me mixing high-carb, moderate-carb, and low/no-carb days . The science behind it is actually a bit complex but regardles of why it claims to work..it simply does (more about carb cycling ). This has proved to be very successful for me. I believe that the diet effects some kind of metabolic change, because no amount of calorie restriction and exercise has helped me lose weight.

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