Thursday, November 18, 2010


I can't eat another calorie.  In fact, I have never eaten any calories.  None of us have.  A calorie is something that is measured in a laboratory, not in the human body.  The way a food burns in a dish and how quickly it raises the temperature of water has nothing to do with the reaction my body has when a portion of any food hits my tummy.

If it did, then it would not matter whether that so-called "calorie" came from a pat of butter, a bite of juicy steak or a spoonful of sugar.  And it most certainly does matter where those "calories" come from.

But I'm stuck - how do I measure the food I eat, and how do I know how much of each macronutrient to eat to achieve a healthy body fat percentage?  I know instinctively that it matters how much food I eat.  We all know that.  I am a petite woman (at least from top to bottom), and I can't eat as much as a football player eats and expect that it will have no consequence on my body fat and the storage of same.

But if it's not about "calories", what is it about?  I suspect that it's about grams of macronutients - fat, protein and carbohydrate.  I know that the body uses these things differently, and they affect fat storage and metabolism differently.  So how do I begin to calculate how much of those different things to insert into my complex system each day, if such a thing is even possible? 

It's a simple thing to look at an online calorie calculator and see how many of these things called "calories" I am supposed to eat each day to maintain my weight.  Right now, supposedly, that is 1,620 calories.  If I eat that amount, I will logically and scientifically (if I am obeying the First Law of Thermodynamics) stay at my present weight, and I would assume, my present body fat.  And if I gain weight on that 1,620 calories, you can bet that I will not be included in the statistics of the next big study that "proves", once and for all, that the "overconsumption" of calories is not merely a correlation when it comes to weight gain, but the direct cause.

First of all, that does not even begin to be true for me - for my body, my metabolism, my hormones or lack of them.  I have maintained my weight on 1,100 calories per day, and I have maintained my weight on 2,000 calories per day.  I have also lost and gained on those varying amounts and every amount in between.  And all with the same amount of exercise, which, until recently, has been none.

But just for argument's sake, let's say it is true that I need 1,620 calories per day to maintain my weight, and if I stick to that logical, scientific number, my weight will stay constant.

So how do I eat those calories, and does it even matter?  What if I decide to eat a half of a pound of butter today and nothing else?  That will get me pretty darn close to 1,620 calories with 99.5% of them coming straight from fat (the other 0.5% comes from protein).  Will that maintain my weight?

What if I'm in the mood for 100% Egg Protein?  Okay, that's unlikely, but it could happen.  Thirty-two tablespoons of that gritty, nasty powder will fill my "caloric needs" for the day, with 100% of it coming from protein.  How would my body like that?  How would my body use that?  Most importantly, would I maintain my weight eating nothing but that?

Actually, the thing that would make me the happiest right now is Twizzlers.  One pound of Twizzlers, to be exact.  That will get me my 1,620 calories and 87% of them would come from carbohydrate.  Even Twizzlers contain a little fat (9%) and a little protein (4%), which I'm sure got in there accidentally.  And who amongst us has not eaten a pound of Twizzlers in one sitting?  Surely, I am not the only one!

According to the theory of Calories In Calories Out, I would maintain my weight eating one pound of Twizzlers every day.  I might drop dead of diabetes or heart disease, but my body fat would not change and my weight would stay at 142 pounds.  Exactly.  It's science, right?

I used to believe in Calories In Calories Out.  And evidently, most regular people and nutritionists and personal trainers you might talk to still do.  I mean, after all, 3,500 calories equals a pound, and if you want to lose a pound a week, all you have to do is cut out 500 calories per day for a week, and you will lose a pound.  Even if all you eat is Twizzlers.

I'm going to continue measuring the amount of food that goes into my mouth by using the word "calorie", because it's the only word I know.  But as I do it, I am also keeping track of how many of those "calories" are fat, how many are protein and how many are carbohydrate, because it matters.  I tried once, on this blog, to stop using the word "calories", but I gave up and gave in.  You can't fight science.

I am hoping that the great minds out there who know what they are talking about will give me a better word to use.  A better science to use.  A science that actually makes sense.

With all of that said, I have decided to start eating 122 grams of fat, 95 grams of protein and 36 grams of carbohydrate each day for a while and see how my body likes it.  If you want to know how many calories that is, you'll have to do the math yourself.

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