Sunday, July 30, 2006

You Can't Outrun a Donut

The ability to outrun a donut is an interesting one. It provides a colorful image of an important issue. We are aware that activity is perhaps the most important component of successful weight management, but maybe that fact is overstated or under examined.

Dieting, or altering ones caloric intake through various macronutrient variables is by far the most common means of reducing body fat. Statistically speaking, it is highly unsuccessful, and almost always doomed to failure. The very idea of, "going on a diet", assumes (making an ass out of you and me), that you will, "go off the diet". That somehow, when you lose the weight, it will be OK to eat like normal people again. You have knocked off the weight, and it is gone.

Anyone with a basic understanding of high school physics must understand that energy in, equals energy out. It is that simple. If you eat adequate calories and burn adequate calories you will maintain weight. If you eat more than you burn, you will get fat. If you eat less than you burn, you will lose fat. It must be included at this point that the body tries to constantly conserve energy. It will make small adaptations to prevent shifts in energy management. These become very apparent the leaner you get. It is easy for fat people to get thinner. It is hard for the fit, athletic, person to get even leaner.

No secret macronutrient ratio will beat the energy formula. None. You cannot defeat the simple physics of eating less and being more active. It is even more valid to understand the numbers. Exercise, even very active exercise does not burn up that many calories. An hour of raquetball may burn anywhere from 600 to 1000 calories. Running or walking for one mile burns around 100 calories. Activity has many benefits besides simple calorie burning, but these numbers are important. A pound of fat contains 3500 calories. Now do the math, or use a calculator if you are challenged.
Who is going to win, a professional athlete playing hard, or an eating champion gobbling down pecan fudge pies? Can you burn faster that you eat?? No you can't.

The sensible approach of eliminating calorie dense foods, reducing overall intake, and combining sensible calorie burning activity such as mild aerobics and resistive exercise is a time tested approach. You will always be able to out eat exercise. Therefore the best exercise may be pushing yourself away from the table and choosing activity over forcing mass quantities of consumables down your pie hole.

--Tom Furman

4 comments:

Marty said...

I subscribe to Chris Carmichael's philosophy of "There Are No Evil Foods" and "Food is Fuel".

You can outrun 1 donut. A dozen donuts requires 12 times the effort.

Tom Shook, RKC said...

If you look at it from a mathematical standpoint, x=y2, one donut = 2 workouts, 2 donuts=4, 3 donuts = 9, etc...pretty soon you are swimming the English channel just to break even! Better off not eating donuts, unless you can swim!

Marty said...

I'm just saying the occasional donut isn't going to kill you or your training plans.

There's 350 calories in a Krispy Kreme chocolate iced cream filled donut. That's 30 minutes for me on a bicycle. It's not the most efficient fuel because of the fat content...

Tyciol said...

I thought fat was an efficient fuel? Anyway, the way I like to look at donuts is that I could eat so much more vegetables in volume to match that donut.