Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Calorie is a Calorie?

The was a story recently about a Kansas State nutrition professor who ate only convenience store snacks for two months and lost 27 pounds. His cholesterol levels* went down, too, from 214 to 184. His blood pressure remained about the same.

How? He capped his caloric intake at 1800 calories per day. That's twelve Twinkies a day. And nothing else.

It would make one think that a calorie is just a calorie, that the body is a simple machine.  For those trying to lose or gain weight, calorie math is a useful tool. Both the over- and underweight need an accurate assessment of how many calories they are consuming in a day to know how much they need to add or subtract.

But total health and fitness is not about calorie math. While our bodies need a certain number of calories per day, the balance of calories we consume from fat, protein, and carbs effects every internal sytem. Shedding pounds is usually a good thing, but the volume of refined carbs and absence of fiber involved in the professor's diet is a come-hither call for diabetes and colon disease. Let's face it - with one hand rooting around in a bag of Doritos, disease is the only thing that will end up on your doorstep.

Come on, Professor! There's more to health than prancing around in skinny jeans, chain smoking, and dating rock stars.


* I'm not well-versed in cholesterol math. Here's the stats from Haub's Facebook page:

Total cholesterol: Pre=214; wk10=184
LDL-C: pre=153; wk10=123
HDL-C: pre=37; wk10=46
TC/HDL ratio: pre=5.8; wk10=4.0
TG:HDL ratio: pre=3.3; wk10=1.6
Glucose: pre=94; wk10=75
Blood Pressure: pre=108/71; wk10=104/76

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