Saturday, December 2, 2006

Counting at the guilty grill

I've been counting calories and fat for the past week, mainly to see exactly what I eat on a given day. So far, before yesterday, I've been clocking in between 1700-2050 each day, which is honestly less than I'd expected, especially since during high school I'd ingest more than half of that just in Mountain Dew a day. (Now, those numbers will go up a little once I'm back to eating lunch in the Microsoft cafeteria five times a week, I'm sure.) I'm not on a diet, but I figure it can't really hurt to gather data for a couple weeks, other than the annoying amount of time it takes to compile everything.

Anyway, last night I went to Chili's with some coworkers and former coworkers. Chili's has a section of their menu called the "guiltless grill," with reduced-fat and -calorie menu items. But, before dinner, I'd only had 450 calories and 7 grams of fat, which was at about 10:00, so I was very hungry, and I remarked that I'd stick with the "guilty grill," which nobody but me thought was funny.

I normally refrain from expletives, but I feel that this case is well worth a holy shit. My meal was 2550 calories and 158 grams of fat. That one meal was at least 25% more calories than I normally consume in an entire day, and well over double the fat.

But it gets worse. After Chili's someone suggested that we head over to Cold Stone. I always imagined that Cold Stone's ice cream must be the most calorie-packed substance to exist, but actually, a cup of their incredible vanilla bean ice cream is better for you than a serving of Chili's mashed potatoes.

I always knew that food from a restaurant was worse for you than stuff I'd prepare at home, but this is the first time I've really looked at the numbers. (I guess I've kind of ruined eating out for the rest of my life now; oh well.) What I don't understand is, if the food is really that bad for you, how these people aren't hulking meatbeasts, since the average number of nights that any of the other people in the group eats out is about 4.5, and some of them work out even less than I do. But, everyone else in the group is inexplicably thin, except for the muscular ex coworker who modeled for Abercrombie not long ago.


Anonymous said...

genetic freaks?

Travis said...

So... to read between the lines a litle bit... you're saying that the best course of action here is for me to inject uranium into my body in the hope of developing a genetic abnormality that will dramatically increase my metabolism without killing me. Yes... I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Okay - first off, everyone has different metabolisms. Unfortunately, in this case, you can curse the fact that your parents gave you a horrible set of genes, and that's about it (I do this often!) Working out can increase your metabolism, but not by much...and it is a LOT of work. When I was on my weight loss program, it was getting to the point where I had to work out an hour every day and I still wasn't losing any weight. Of course, I have two friends who are size 0....and I have watched them eat (they eat more than me...curse them!) Of course, you can be ultra skinny and still have high cholesterol and high blood pressure - as is proof by the fact that one of my size 0 friends has both.

As for eating out, you can do it without eating all those calories, it just comes down to knowing portion sizes. Most places give you much bigger servings that what you should be eating. In one of the classes I took on my weight loss program, they actually had a container of teriyaki chicken from a take out place that was close by. The thing contained 2 1/2 servings of chicken, 2 servings of rice. The salad was a under the normal serving, but it had a double serving of salad dressing on it. If you ate everything, it would be like eating lunch and dinner at one sitting.

Travis said...

Yes, of course. But this post was meant as more of a "here's what's new" than a serious discussion of nutrition and weight loss. :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I say you should start a serious discussion about nutrition and weight loss. I'm sure many of your avid readers would be interested.

:) I, for one, need some advice regarding this area, and yes, would rather get it from here than one of the established websites containing advice from MDs.

Anonymous said...

Last time I gave Nyomi advice, she hissed at me.

Seriously, though, I think it's medically impossible NOT to lose weight if you follow this plan:

1. Eat small meals throughout the day. You should probably shoot for three meals and two snacks. I can't tell you how many calories your specific body needs, but it's probably in the range of 1500-2000. Meals should always include some sort of lean protein (chicken, fish, etc).

2. Cut out refined carbohydrates. The human body was not designed to properly metabolize all the refined junk we toss down our throats. Foods like sugar, white bread, rice, potatoes, and corn screw with your metabolism - if you really want to get into balance and "fix" the way your body deals with excess energy, you need to start by cutting these foods out. This doesn't mean you can't ever eat them again - but quitting cold turkey for a while is really the only way to get over the addiction. If you don't believe you're addicted to carbohydrates, cut them out entirely and wait for the withdrawl symptoms to set in.

3. You have to exercise. Simply pounding away at the treadmill every day is not enough, though; you need to do strength training to build muscle, too. The only way to permanently increase your metabolism is to build lean body mass (muscle). Fat doesn't burn anything; it just sits here. Muscle, however, is constantly hungry, so if you replace 1 lb of fat with 1 lb of muscle, you will naturally burn more calories just by sitting around. Do weights 3 times a week or so, and shoot for cardio at least 3-4 times a week.

Louise, if I were to guess what your problem was, you probably weren't eating enough calories! Apparently that's a common problem with people trying to drop weight. If you try to starve your body, it'll get pissed at you, slow down your metabolism, and every time you eat, your body will pack away as much food as possible as fat in preperation for the next time you try to starve it. Also, if you overdo the cardio while starving yourself, your body will start burning your muscle, which is really bad, because that means you are losing lean body mass and therefore decreasing your metabolic rate! This is the main reason why crash dieters get the "slingshot" efffect - sure, they lose a bunch of weight in the beginning, but a lot of that is muscle - then when they lay off the diet, they find themselves with LESS of a metabolism than before, and wind up heavier in the end than when they started the diet.

Luke said...

Lincoln, you did a shockingly amazing job of repeating exactly what my personal trainer said.