OVEREATING IS EASIER TO DO THAN YOU THINK
Logically we know that it is much easier to avoid eating/drinking tons of unhealthy calories than it is to burn them. When the moment of choice arrives, we often forget this logic or feel more motivated by the pleasure of eating/drinking and so we eat too much and gain fat. The basic example below will show you just how drastic a difference it is to help motivate your reduced calorie eating.
At a party someone might have cheese and crackers, 2 drinks (beers/wine), then eat a chicken sandwich, followed by a fudge brownie in the course of 1 hour. This single meal could easily be over 1200 calories worth of food/drink, making it likely that with two other meals and snacks someone a couple thousand calories over their limit that day. It would take hours and hours of running to burn that off (not worth it!)
Look at what it takes to burn just 600 of those calories via exercise:
155 lb Women:
- 4 hours: Walking on flat ground
- 1.5 hours: Biking moderately
- 1 hours: Running 9 min/mile, or nearly 7 miles
185 lb Man:
- 3 hours: Walking flat
- 1.1 hours: Biking moderately
- 45 min: Running 9 min/mile, or 5 miles
Getting your calories in the correct range is a necessary part of the plan and often times the most challenging for people, which is why we are starting there. You might not want to hear that tracking your calorie levels is where you have to start, because it sounds more difficult than just cutting out certain foods or adding in special diet foods, however this is where our eating mindfulness begins and how you’re going to start getting your results. You have to know where you are calorically, so you can make the right adjustments, but this is just the beginning of our 10 Step Program.
SEVERAL OTHER KEY FACTORS AFFECT YOUR ENERGY BALANCE
Several things affect these numbers and make it not just a game of counting calories, but focusing on balanced body chemistry and knowing yourself as well. Understanding these factors will help motivate us to be more mindful, balanced eaters.
1. Metabolic Rate: This is how many calories your body regularly burns just to live and perform. All the bodily functions of breathing, pumping blood, thinking, body heat, etc. burn calories. We are all very different shapes and sizes, so this number is dramatically different if you are 5 ft and 125 lbs. vs. 6 ft and 225 lbs. The old 2000 calories per day is not the standard to go by. We give tools to estimate it, but ultimately we want to work towards a deeper mindfulness of when you feel you’ve consumed what you need vs. going over or under. Your body is pre-loaded with this intuition, we have just forgotten how to pay attention to it, or are blinded by all the treats pushed in front of us by the big processed food companies.
2. Exercise: In order to burn fat our program requires a more complete approach than just reducing your caloric intake, it includes eating healthier foods and simultaneously increasing your caloric output with exercise that includes strength training. This will help you get to your goals faster, but don’t over estimate it as most people do and justify lots of extra treats and calories, use it as the extra caloric output that brings you below your daily metabolic rate.
See example below, but in our Unite workouts larger people tend to burn 700-1000 calories, with smaller people in the range of 400-700.
3. Thermogenic Effect: The amount of calories it takes just to digest certain foods. natural, healthy, whole foods have skin, fiber, complex macronutrients, etc. and so they take more energy to digest, which in our current world of plenty is a very helpful. Our digestive and energy systems were built to consume natural foods in their whole form, so when we eat artificial, over processed foods, we not only kill the nutrients in them and run on crap, we mess up our insides. It’s like putting the wrong fuel in your car and expecting it to run well. The rules of physics say that energy is released naturally when things are broken down, so the less of our food we have to break down the less healthy energy we will experience. Try to feel this as you shift towards more natural, unprocessed foods.
4. Hormonal/Insulin Cycle: The macronutrient content of different foods, the state they are consumed in and the timing with which we eat them all affect our body chemistry. Our hormonal response is the traffic light for burning fat or gaining weight. When our meals are totally lopsided in one macronutrient, usually carbohydrates and sugar, versus balanced with fat, protein and veggies, it throws the body chemistry into a more extreme state. If we binge eat it, that makes it worse and if we are choosing processed foods that have already been broken down into simple sugars, it amplifies it even further into an extreme insulin spike, which then doubles the fat storage. More on this in future steps. These other major factors show us that a focus solely on calories is not the best approach.