Christmas Calories

So there’s no surprise. The food and drink have been consumed and the guilt has set it. Its that time of year again when most people get to the stage where all their clothes start to fit a bit tighter than normal. Apart from the lucky few exceptions that can eat what they want and never gain weight, balancing energy taken in as food/drink and energy expended as exercise is a tricky business. But why is that? How come its so hard for us to work out the energy content of what we consume and trade that off against some exercise?

On Christmas Day the average person in Britain consumes about 7000 calories, although most people think that they are only consuming about 3000 calories! Hmmm, Just think about that…. Perhaps there’s some burial of heads in the sand going on? But that’s a separate problem right there, in the difference between the calories that people think they are consuming and those that they actually do. The average moderately active woman only needs 2000 ~ 2300 calories per day and an average moderately active male 2600 ~ 2800. Therefore it’s very clear why our clothes fit much tighter in January! Even if you try to burn that off, the average calorie spend per mile (running) is only roughly speaking 100, but there’s some other factors to bear in mind of course. But to put that into some sort of perspective, even a moderately fit male would have to run 40 miles just to break even on Christmas day in terms of net calories.

When you break down how much exercise you have to do to counterbalance your calories consumed, you might be shocked. ( But where’s the fun in constantly trying to balance calories in and out? Is it not enough that we run, and try to enjoy some of what life has to offer?

I try to take a balanced view. A few over here and a few under there, no point trying to keep track of much more than that if you lead an active lifestyle, but what I’ve found useful is trying to keep in mind just how few calories an exercise burns in reality versus what we think it burns and try to understand what sorts of calorie requirements some sports have. I said calorie requirements for a reason, as to take part in sport you need to be able to be able to spend calories, and so going the other way and not eating much, or not eating carb-rich food, could restrict your ability to partake in the sport.

So as is always the case as we head towards January, we start to think about resolutions, and “going on a diet” must be near the top of the nations’ list. However, before going down that road, maybe stop to think about educating yourself with the link above about what the real calorie burn from exercise is, and this may help you make more educated choices, and is better than dieting.


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