Sunday, May 6, 2012

Calorie Control Without Counting Calories

How many calories is too many?

If I eat a meal of 5000 calories, will I get fat?

If I eat a meal of 500 calories, will I lose weight?

My doctor told me that we gain weight if we consume more calories than we burn.  At first it sounds kind of reasonable.  But here is why that is confusing:

First a 400 pound man eats a meal that has 1000 calories and it took 15 minutes to eat it.  Did he just gain weight?  Of course!

But then 6 hours later did he still gain weight from that meal?  Possibly, but not as much as he did in the first 15 minutes.

Now 24 hours later after eating the original meal, did he still gain weight?  No, he has probably lost weight by now.

But what if he ate 2000 calories in a meal?  Or 3000?  Or 4000?  He can still lose weight after a HUGE meal as long as he gives it enough time before he eats again.  Weight loss depends on time for calories consumed.  The more calories you consume, the more time is required to lose weight.

My doctor was quick to point to calories, but completely ignored the time aspect of weight loss.  Why are so many people hung up on portion sizes or calorie counts?  It doesn't matter how big the portion or the amount of calories if you are not taking the TIME to burn them off.  So portions and calories only become too big or too small depending on the time taken AFTER EATING THEM.

If one feels like eating a big meal, no problem.  Afterward just give yourself plenty of time to digest it.  It is probably more helpful (and easier) to keep track of the time since your last meal rather than the meal's calories.  Your scale can be helpful for measuring your results and then you could adjust your after-meal time accordingly.

I found it is MUCH easier to hold off on eating and then eat foods I enjoy and can eat until I am satisfied.  The alternative is small, unsatisfying portions of foods I can marginally tolerate.  Where has this option been all of my life and why hasn't this been better explained to people?