My fitness plan has been simple: eat whatever the hell I want and don't exercise much. That's had the predictable effect at age 37 that I should lose a fair bit of weight. I've always been suspicious of specific diets and I'm too lazy to exercise properly, but I finally found something that seems to be working for me. Simple calorie counting.

The key enabler for me is the free iPhone app Lose It!. I finally have in my pocket a simple way to track what I eat during the day. It's incredibly eye opening to learn, for example, that a tablespoon of butter is 100 calories, or about 4% of what I should be eating a day. Or roughly the same calories as in a small 8oz glass of juice. Now I have a specific measurement of putting less butter on my bread or drinking unsweetened iced tea.

What you eat is energy in, what you do is energy out. There's a surprising amount of specific research on metabolic rates for people. Lose It! follows the Mifflin Equation to calculate the calories you burn simply for being alive, then bumps it up 145% to account for your daily activity (may be a bit optimistic). A 3500 calorie deficit translates into a pound of flesh, so eating 500 calories a day less than your calorie need will result in losing a pound a week. Exercise helps too, of course: 20 minutes of walking = 100 calories.

A lot of the discussion about weight and fitness is tied up in emotional discourse, judgement, and poorly tested theories about how bacon is a Fatkins diet food, how you can change your metabolic rate, or you should only eat what they eat in Provence. And it may be simply controlling calorie intake and getting a bit of exercise isn't the whole story, but it's a helpful place to start. If nothing else I'm now much more aware of what I'm eating.

  2009-04-28 17:58 Z