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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Your body needs a finite amount of fuel for the energy it expends on life functions, like heartbeat and breathing, producing heat and digestion. It also needs an additional amount of fuel for things like walking, climbing, running, standing, sitting, and throwing. It's a simple equation, really. To attain (and more importantly) maintain your optimum weight and body mass composition, you need to manage the caloric surplus or deficit each day. If you do, your weight will go to it's correct level over time. If you take in to many calories for what your body needs, it will store them as fat. If you take in less, it will consume it's reserves. No diet programs needed, no "fat burning supplements", no club, no weight loss motivational speakers. Food in, energy out. Nothing more, nothing less.

As the title says, you simply have to "pay as you go". If you have a sedentary day, week, month, year, need less fuel. If you have an active day, week, month, year, or life, you need more fuel. While you're getting used to this fact, and it is a FACT, you will need to track your intake for a period of time, so that you understand what you are REALLY consuming. That mayo on your sandwich may have added 25% to the caloric value of the sandwich itself.
The sugar filled carmel-whatever that you stopped off for on the way back from your 1 hour workout at the gym just replaced approximately enough calories to fuel a 2 hour workout, and without any real useable nutrients. Just sugar.

To be successful, you need to watch, not only the quantity of food that you consume, but the quality. The quick sugar rush of candy and sweet drinks is pleasant to nearly everyone. Your body, in this regard, however, is separate from your mind. It doesn't know that you are still going to have a 2,000 calorie dinner. Your body only deals with the quick, large input of energy, greatly in excess of need, so it goes about storing it away for later. If you do this once a month, you can probably burn it up. If you do it once a day, you will continue running a caloric surplus. Your body will continue storing it for later, but later never comes.

All this applies to "holiday weight gain" about which you see a dozen stories every holiday season. If you go to office, school, other parties, it doesn't cause you to gain weight. If you go and consume, without thinking, 5 handfulls of nuts while you are "mingling" (about 1000 cal), another 500 calories worth of eggnog, cheese crackers, crab cakes, chips, and then have a 2000 calorie dinner followed by another 750 calories or so in a dessert, you can see where it goes. Throw in a few alcoholic drinks, and you have a total caloric ingestion orgy totalling about 4,500 calories, and that doesn't count what you had for breakfast, maybe a snack, and lunch. We're talking about, maybe a 6000 calorie day here. That's enough to sustain, for example, a 165 lb. man for about 3 days. You do that once and then get back on track, and you can undo the damage in a week or two. You do it day after day, even at a bit lower level, and you're headed for, literally, "Fat City"!

If you run a marathon the day before, or a couple of days after this food orgy, you may be about on track for break even. If not, it goes to fat. Period.

The moral to this story, manage your input vs. output on a daily basis, or you will pay for it later. There's no "get out of jail free" card here. If you eat it, you either burn it, or store it. There is no third option.

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