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I’m stuffed. Better get to sleep.

November 3, 2009

You know what I hate? I hate all those lists in magazines, books, websites and on television that match up some kind of ‘bad’ food with the amount of exercise it takes to burn it off. Food doesn’t have to be ‘paid’ for with exercise. What a bizarre and depressing way to look at both food and movement. Plus it just reinforces the mistaken notion that many people have that the exercise you do must exceed your intake in order to lose weight. Yeah, walking a couple of miles burns as much energy as you might find in a bag of potato chips, but being alive for a few hours will also use up the same amount of energy.

Nowadays what I like to do is counter any such comparison with how many hours of sleep it will take to use the energy in a particular food.

“You know that scone is over 400 calories?”

“Yeah, I’ll have to sleep six hours to burn it off!”

Using a value of about 1 calorie per minute (this is an average, of course) will give you a general idea of how much energy your body needs just while you’re unconscious. If you’re someone who thinks of ‘bad’ food in terms of how much you have to suffer to make up for it, then start thinking of how much you’ll have to sleep to use that same amount of energy*. Maybe you’ll get more sleep and let go of some food guilt. Both good things.

*Not because you HAVE to pay for what you eat, but because I think encouraging more sleep is far healthier than people trudging miserably through their workout because of guilt.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 3, 2009 10:43 pm


    I don’t hate exercise, actually. It’s weird. I never thought I’d be “that person” who would rather spend 45 minutes on the elliptical than have a cupcake. Not that I don’t like cupcakes, mind you, and not that I don’t still eat them. And I don’t generally think of my food in terms of working out, or my workouts in the terms of what I can eat.

    I kind of separate them, actually.

    This is what I eat, and this is my workouts. “Paying” for a cupcake by hitting the elliptical is like saying that I watched 1 hour of tv today and now I HAVE to read for 90 minutes. Hell, I LIKE reading. I also like watching TV.

    Good post.

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