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Importance of Nutrition

A discussion of nutrition must begin with an understanding of how your body creates energy. The word calorie is not a diet term, but rather a scientific term, defining a unit of heat/energy. The calorie has become our enemy, but with a better understanding we can make friends with it again. Understanding is the beginning of knowledge.

Your Body and Activity

At rest (for example, sitting and watching television), the human body burns only about 12 calories per pound of body weight per day. That means that if you weigh 150 pounds, your body uses only about: 150 X 12 = 1,800 calories per day.

Those 1,800 calories are used to do everything you need to stay alive.

You can see just how efficient the human body is if you compare your body to a car. A typical car in the United States gets between 15 and 30 miles per gallon of gasoline. A gallon of gas contains about 31,000 calories. That means that if a human being could drink gasoline instead of eating hamburgers to take in calories, a human being could run 26 miles on about one-twelfth of a gallon of gas. In other words, a human being gets more than 300 miles per gallon! If you put a human being on a bicycle to increase the efficiency, a human being can get well over 1,000 miles per gallon. It is that level of efficiency which makes it so easy to gain weight.

The 1,800 calories that a typical person at rest needs per day is just not that many. For example, if you go to your neighborhood McDonald’s restaurant and order the Big Xtra meal, you will get a sandwich, a large order of French fries and a large Cola. This meal contains:

  • 710 calories in the sandwich
  • 540 calories in the French fries
  • 310 calories in the drink

In other words, just this one meal provides 1,560 calories you need during the day. If you get a dessert with your meal, you’ll get 630 more calories, so you are already consuming almost 2,200 calories just at this one meal!

Similarly, if you go Pizza Hut and get a Meat Lover’s Pan Pizza, each slice contains 360 calories. If you eat three slices and get a large drink to go with it, that’s 1,390 calories - just 410 calories shy of a full day’s worth of calories.

Let’s say you are being very health conscience about what you are eating. You pick up some SnackWell's Creme Sandwich Cookies. Over the course of the day you snack on these "healthy" snacks and at the end of the day you have eaten 12 of these tasty little morsels. You have just added 660 calories to that day’s intake. 1/3 of your daily requirement of calories had no nutritional value. But, they were low in fat, so you mistakenly thought that was “good for you.”

Your Body's Efficiency

Your body, is extremely efficient at capturing and storing excess calories. Whenever your body finds that it was fortunate enough to locate more food than it needed that day, it converts them to fat and saves them for the next big famine to come your way. After all, your body has all of its ancient knowledge in tact. In the real world, it is used to "Feast or Famine." The problem arises when "Feast after Feast after Feast" is never followed by “Famine.” Your body carries a huge lunch box around with it, it might be called big hips, beer belly, or thunder thighs. Each body has its own set of fat receptors set up to haul your excess lunch around. Imagine if school lunch boxes in the 50’s had had obese body parts on the outside rather than super heroes. Would we have looked at those Hostess cupcakes inside differently?

Let’s imagine that you are overweight and would like to lose several excess pounds. To lose 1 pound of fat, what you have to do is burn off 3,500 calories. That is, over a period of time, you have to consume 3,500 calories less than your body needs. There are several ways you can create this deficit.

  • You could lie in bed and starve yourself. Since you are at rest, you are consuming 1,800 calories per day. Since you are giving your body 0 calories, you are creating a deficit of 1,800 calories per day. Approximately every two days, you will lose 1 pound of body weight. And eventually, you will die.
  • You could consume fewer calories than your body needs. For example, you might choose to consume 1,500 calories per day rather than the required 1,800 by controlling what you eat. That creates a 300-calorie deficit every day. That means that approximately every 12 days, you will lose 1 pound of weight. You will eventually reach your weight loss goal. This sensible approach does not throw the body into starvation gear and will not destroy your metabolism.
  • You could decide to consume your 1,800 calories per day an then choose to jog 2 miles every day. The jogging would burn about 200 calories per day, and over the course of 18 days you could burn about 1 pound of body weight. But, if you have a lot of weight to lose, or a damaged heart or joints, this won’t be your best choice. Remember, you would have to jog 3 miles just to burn off the calories that large cola put on. Was it worth it?
  • You can be reasonable about your weight. You didn’t get 50 pounds overweight in a month; give yourself time to lose it. If you are overweight but stable, that means you have stayed at the same weight for a period of time, simply begin to write down what you are eating. Keep a sheet of paper handy, read the labels on food, notice the appropriate serving size and then record what you eat, when you eat, and how much you ate. Write the calorie cost to each food. Just becoming aware of the price you pay in calories for each food can help you make sensible decisions. Here is an example, 1 Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow has 25 calories, and 0 nutritional value. A Welch’s No Sugar Added Fruit Juice Bar has 25 calories, but offers 15% of your daily vitamin C and 10% of your daily requirement of calcium. The fruit bar takes 10 times longer to eat than the marshmallow. Besides, who ever ate 1 marshmallow. You can down 8 of them at a time. That’s 200 calories. All you need to do is cut 500 calories from your day and you will lose 1 pound a week. If you add some exercise to that, like walking a mile each day, you will find a 3 pound lose every two weeks. At a pound a week you will lose 52 pounds in a year. And, you will be able to keep it off for life.

Get Fit

Try to exercise every day. It is easier to do something if you do it every day. It takes 10 days to make or break a habit. On the 11th day you won’t be able to get on with your day until you have done your exercise. Always check with your physician before adding new exercise.

  • Walking burns 198 Cal/Hour
  • Golf burns 324 Cal/Hour
  • Tennis burns 450 Cal/Hour
  • Swimming burns 522 Cal/Hour
  • Cycling burns 612 Cal/Hour
  • Jogging burns 654 Cal/Hour

The truth is the only way to lose weight is eat fewer calories than your body needs so that it is required to go to your stored body fat for energy. Or burn more calories than your body needs so that it is again required to locate stored fat for energy. The best way is a combination of both approaches. And the only way to get healthy is to eat the foods that make your body operate as it was intended to.