Sunday, February 18, 2007

Think Of Calories, Carbs In Terms Of Exercise

This book helps you understand the consequences of your dietary choices

Have you ever caught yourself thinking about how long it would take you to burn off a meal you had just eaten, especially one that was not very healthy? Maybe you have, maybe not. I know I have after splurging on an Apple Cinnamon Fruit Filled Pancakes meal at Denny's. Those 1,080 calories and 106g carbohydrates I just consumed will take me over 4 1/2 hours on the treadmill to walk it off! Yikes! I think I'll skip that meal from now on. :)

How did I know about this wonderful tidbit of nutritional knowledge? I owe it all to syndicated health columnist Charles Stuart Platkin and his new book The Diet Detective's Count Down. This handy-dandy little guide to 7500 different foods provides you with a quick-reference exercise equivalent to just about any food that will cross your lips.

That's right! No more excuses that you didn't know a food was bad for you because you had absolutely no concept about the amount of calories you were putting in your mouth. That's why the idea of seeing what you eat in the amount of time it would take you to burn it off is a revolutionary one. Platkin says he would love to see this information appear on restaurant menus and on nutritional labels.

What a concept! How many people would scarf down an entire cup of gumdrops if they knew they would have to do more than four hours of yoga just to burn them off?! Not too many people I would dare say. And that's what I love about The Diet Detective's Count Down because it makes people start thinking of calories in terms of exercise which is a lot more tangible and realistic. Calories can be mysterious, but exercise is very real!

Before I lost over 180 pounds on the Atkins diet in 2004, I would regularly consume a whole box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls in one sitting! I know, I know, that was pretty stupid. But had I known at the time that I would have to shake my fat butt dancing for over 4 1/2 hours to keep those calories from turning into stored fat in my blubbery self, then I probably would have thought twice about doing that. Again, the Diet Detective has come to the rescue!

Despite the unique concept of thinking about the calories of the foods you eat and their "exercise equivalent," you can also learn about the actual number of calories, carbs, and fat grams with The Diet Detective's Count Down. For those who are genuinely interested in the exercise they will need to do to burn off their desired morsel of caloric goodness, though, Platkin shows you very clearly how many minutes it will take you to move your body either walking, running, biking, swimming, yoga, or dancing. You choose the exercise you enjoy the most and start working off those calories.

The bottom line is, as Olivia Newton-John sang about in the 1980s, let's get physical and start learning that exercise is an extremely important component not only in weight loss, but also in weight maintenance and health management. Thinking of food by how much time you will need to workout is one way to help you make better choices about what to eat in the first place. It's something Platkin refers to as a "calorie bargain"--finding a lower-calorie or low-carb replacement food for that oh-so-favorite one you think you can't live without.

Platkin said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who lost over 100 pounds on a low-carb diet just like me, traded his favorite sugary 550-calorie premium ice cream habit for a 250-calorie Splenda-sweetened low-carb ice cream instead. This savings of 300 calories helped Gov. Huckabee shed the pounds and avoid that extra one hour of swimming it would have taken to burn off his preferred dessert. That's the power of taking control of your diet once and for all.

Of course, these exercise numbers will vary from person to person based on the specific height and weight of the individual. The standard used for The Diet Detective's Count Down was a 155-pound person who is walking 3 mph, running 5 mph, bicycling nearly 12 mph, swimming laps, participating in Hatha yoga, or dancing.

Charles Stuart Platkin has hit on something here that is lacking in the debate over obesity in the United States today. People need to be given information that is honest and practical so they can clearly understand what they need to do to lose weight and get healthy. Enough with the confusing message to "eat right" or "follow a balanced diet." Obviously nobody knows what that means anymore.

What we learn from The Diet Detective's Count Down is that there are consequences for making poor choices in our diet. If you are willing to put in the time to burn off what you have consumed, then good for you. Otherwise, you may start to think twice before downing those 4 slices of Meat Lover's pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch. It'll only take you three hours riding around on your bicycle to burn those calories.

You know, eating healthier is already sounding a whole lot better!

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