Diets, Foods, and Numbers Pt. I: The 3,500 Theory

For those who have ever become an active member in the dieting world, you have most likely been privy to the multitude of theories and fads that circulate on the WWW. The grand take-away is that some combination of clean eating and exercise will eventually lead you to your weight goals.

Although not particularly qualified scientifically per say- becoming a nutritionist is on my to do list- I want to offer a few thoughts based off of my own personal, very in-depth and well-rounded, experience on these topics. Plus, doing a ton of research on the internet for multiple years is kind of the same thing as being qualified…I digress. These are the specific theories that I want to discuss.

  1. One Lb is equal to 3,500 Calories.
  2. The Low-Carb diet.
  3. The 80/20, 70/30, 60/40, rule.

These three diet stipulations are just a very minor scratch on the surface of the myriad of  diet commandments, however these are the ones that really hit home for me both good and bad ways. Let me tell you about my personal experience with all of these, and why I believe that all-encompassing dieting rules geared towards EVERYONE is the biggest load of horse…..

Anyways, so as not to overwhelm I’m going to break down these three theories into three separate posts.

Beginning with the first;

 

One Lb is equal to 3,500 calories; Healthy foods Vs. Numbers

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(My birthday cake, we ran out of candles…)

I am not going to question science because I think we can all agree that would be a bit presumptuous of me, so let’s all agree for now that, yes, one lb equals 3,500 Kcal. Good. Fantastic. And now, I’m going to just move right along and say straight out that it is really not that simple, it simply cannot be! Losing weight is not about numbers; subtracting caloric intake from expenditure and adding up the deficit to equal 3500, wah-la you have lost a pound. I personally couldn’t disagree more with this.

Not all bodies are as consistent as math. Some people have very high metabolisms, some are a little more sluggish. For example, a 12 year old boy who maintains a daily 500 calorie deficit as opposed to a post-menopausal woman maintaining the same deficit. I think we all know who would lose more weight. But if losing weight is all math, then how is this possible? Because the faster metabolism of the child burns through energy at a substantially higher rate, the equation must be altered and cannot apply across the board. Additionally, a women’s menstrual cycle is shown to alter metabolic rate, specifically showing an increase in metabolism in the luteal phase (about a week prior to her period), so even our own equations must be adjusted frequently.

If we all had an equation specific to our own bodies perhaps I could see the light in this, however my own personal experience tells a different story…

What I do believe is that the type of foods you eat make a difference. Weight loss cannot be about changing something for a short amount of time and then going back to your original habits after you lost a few pounds, it needs to be a lifestyle. But we all know this. I’m not saying that your diet should consist of kale smoothies- that would get terribly boring- but, as in all things, there should be a balance.

Now these two schools of diet thought are somewhat congruent. Whether your focus be geared towards healthy eating or strictly adding up numbers, healthier foods tend to have far less calories. Shall we compare a Twinkie to an apple? You could eat three apples compared to just one Twinkie pack, and will probably be so full after the second apple that you will not finish the third, equalling fewer calories total.

I have found that there is a weight that my body just really wants to be at. While at this weight (between 127-134 lbs), my indulgences vs. abstaining from said indulgences really make no noticeable difference. I certainly make healthy choices, but I never go hungry. Now, a few years ago it was a different story. My weight ranged from about 119-125, which is fairly thin for me (I’m 5’5), and maintaining this range involved far fewer indulgences. My indulgences were fewer and further between and I was definitely maintaining a caloric deficit to a degree, but I didn’t lose any weight. I just maintained a smaller figure.

Fast track a few years and I gained a moderate amount of weight, as some do in their mid-20’s. But this was not a continual thing, as the equations would have us believe. My body decided how much weight it wanted to gain now that it was being given the freedom to do so, and then it just said, “Yep, this right here. I like this.” And then it stopped! I just evened out. It was not very mathematical.

For those attempting to lose a substantial amount of weight, it is generally true that the pounds come off far easier at first. For those who are twiddling around with 5-10lbs, it is a whole different set of struggles. The deficit must continually be increased, accompanying workouts increasingly more challenging.

Again I would address the difference between creating a deficit and focusing on clean eating. I could incorporate a deficit into my diet once again, but in order to maintain a weight of 5-10 lbs less, this deficit would have to be maintained ultimately, and increased over time, or my body would just go right back to where it is.

I do believe that our bodies have a natural resting place in terms of weight, and no, it does not mean that I eat cake every night or put heavy cream in my coffee. I listen to my body and, like anything, it’s ok so say yes to yourself just as it’s ok to also say no.

One last thought on the subject while we’re on it…I hate counting calories. I have done it religiously in the past on and off for many, many years, and yes I am young so there will be more rants about the many disgusting aspects of our society. Besides all of that, I stumbled across this article about ‘Why Calorie Counting is Crazy,’ and I have to say I love all of it.

Calorie counting made me feel deprived on an unreal level. I was depressed when I saw how many calories I had left in the day guilty when I exceeded my daily limit. Sometimes counting calories actually made me eat more. I would see a remainder and feel elated that I had room for one more snack even if I didn’t want it. There were days where I didn’t count, and probably far exceeded what I needed to eat in a day, which is bad for you in several ways. Long story semi-short, I am traumatized from counting calories. It made me feel terrible about myself, constantly deprived, always hungry, and just bad bad bad.

Assuming that our bodies need the same amount of energy each and every day is inspirationally delusional. Fitness aside, some days I just need more food than others and a calorie tracker has no way of knowing this, it just knows how to make you feel bad about exceeding your limit, even when you’re starving.

Next up…Low Carb Diets

❤ Cammy

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