Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Burning Calories

The Weight of the Nation website has a great deal of information and many interactive components.  I explored a few of the pages today with a special interest in what was being said about causes > genetics, choices, environment and consequences.

If you go to the main page and click on the tab that says LEARN, hover over the words The BASICS, you'll get a drop down list.  First I chose, What Is Obesity?  Many interesting points are offered on that page.  What I'd like to focus your attention on is the last piece, Understanding Energy Balance.  There you will find the amount of time by activity type that it takes to burn off a usual serving of french fries or 610 calories. When you look at the chart, be sure to note that the weight of the person determines the length of time it takes to burn the cals. So if you weigh less than either of the examples, you will have to do that activity longer to burn the same calories and if you weigh more, you need to go on a diet - I mean, you need to exercise longer.  The examples for burning off these 610 calories, included running (slowly) for an hour +-, or walking (very slow - 30 minutes per mile) for over THREE hours.  Yikes.  Isn't it easier to eat a non starchy fruit or vegetable with 80 calories that you don't need to burn off?

On that same page, and under the chart, you'll find a very basic caloric need estimater.  The table is very general and does not factor in height or body type. For instance, I am a very active (meeting  or exceeding the 1 hr per day goal), petite, woman of middle age.  It suggests I need 2200 calories.  I eat closer to 1800 which keeps my weight around 100 pounds.    As helpful as that chart might be, to most safely and effectively apply it to your life you should talk to a licensed nutritionist/registered dietician.  Of course, you also need to figure out how many calories are in the foods you eat so you can get a baseline for yourself.

Speaking of weight loss, I also like the weight loss tab - available from the same LEARN > The Basics> drop down list. On the Weight Loss page, successful methods are described as are clues to watch out for when evaluating a "diet" promotion (i.e. danger signs), such as ads that suggest:
  • Losing more than 1-2 lbs a week
  • No need for exercise
  • Purchasing foods, pills, powders
  • Personal stories instead of scientific evidence
All of the tabs available from the drop down LEARN list are enlightening, but I will end with the Food Systems one because it makes note of the access problem. In the Food Systems section, local food environments with a pervasive amount of energy dense nutrient poor food outlets are called food swamps.  There is also a food comparison chart and other tools that you can use (they are in a list on the right side of the page).  You can even make pledges to change certain things about your life in order to be a healthier you.

I hope you can make some time to go to the website.

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