QUESTION: I have a bet with my brother who lives in Kendall. If I eat one pound of food, do I gain one pound of weight?
ANSWER: Yes and no. Yes, if a 180-pound person ate one pound of “Death By Chocolate,” that person would weigh 181 pounds after ingesting the last morsel. Same thing for water. A pint of water weighs about one pound. If you drink a pint of water, you weigh a pound more.
No, that one pound of chocolate does not mean a person gains one pound of body weight over time. And a few hours after drinking that pound of water, you would weigh about the same as you did before drinking a pound of water. That’s the essence of what you really want to know.
It’s about the calories, not the weight of the food. Calories are the amount of energy in food. A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. For every 3,500 calories consumed beyond what the body needs for basic functions, you gain one pound of weight.
Some foods have more calories than others. Foods high in fat and sugar are also high in calories. A pound of chocolate pie has more calories than a pound of cereal. If you eat more calories than the body uses, the extra calories are stored as fat.
In addition, foods high in fat usually are high in saturated and trans fats and increase LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, and increases the risk of heart disease. Another downer of high fat food, along with too much food, is Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes. More and more teens and young adults are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes these days because of lack of activity and carrying excess weight. It is running rampant in our country and is starting to take a toll on our health care system.
The average adult uses or burns 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day. If a person takes in 3,000 calories in a day, he or she could “burn off” that excess 500 calories by being active or exercising to maintain their weight.
Weight-loss people are always preaching two concepts about keeping off excess weight. Their advice has not changed in decades, “Eat less, and exercise more.” It is a simple formula. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. But in the end (no pun intended), it’s the only tried and true method that works long term.
There seems to be no magic bullet when it comes to nutrition and weight control. There are lots of commercials and infomercials on television that sell vitamins and diet drugs. A sizable portion of magazine advertising is aimed at weight control. Making lasting changes in eating and exercise habits is the way to lose weight and keep it off. It isn’t about deprivation, it’s about moderation.
Perhaps it comes down to Aristotle’s Golden Mean: “Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.”
Source: mayoclinic.com and Tomah Health Registered Dietitian.
Larry Scheckel is a retired Tomah High School physics teacher.