Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's the Calories Stupid

Early in my ministry I noticed how men, scared by a heart attack, began following strict diets and exercise routines. I also noticed how their quality of life improved - even after suffering a heart attack. I decided a long time ago that I'm not waiting for a heart attack to get me to diet and exercise. But I will admit that my struggle with dieting is a lot like my struggle with sin: I'm a saint and a sinner! It is hard to stay on a diet, any diet.

Several years ago I saw a T-shirt that simply said, "It's the Calories Stupid." I'm amazed how this sentence has stuck with me. It really is true. The only effective diet for me is simply counting calories. It is a basic principle of God's creation: Take in more calories than you burn and gain weight, or, take in less calories than you burn and loose weight. But counting calories can be such a pain!

There are, however, some very helpful tools now that make calorie counting much easier. One important tool for me is a website called This website allows you to type in the foods you eat, and it automatically counts the calories as well as the other nutritional information that is available for that food. You can also customize it to remember your favorite meals that you eat consistently (my morning oatmeal, PBJ sandwich, or protein milkshake). Myfitnesspal also has a great iPhone app. The other very helpful tool is a cheap (less than $10) digital scale. Using a scale helps you gauge food portions, and after a while you don't need to use it all the time. You can accurately tell what three ounces of ham on your ham sandwich looks like. The scale totally changed the way I eat certain foods that are real diet busters - things like potato chips!

Counting calories is somewhat like reading the Bible in Hebrew or Greek. My Hebrew teacher, Dr. Andy Bartelt, always told us that reading in Hebrew forces you to slow down and get more out of the text. Counting calories forces me to slow down and mentally "digest" what I am eating. Thinking about it helps me to resist the desire to keep on eating until I feel sick.

1 comment:

Not Alone +++ PAS said...


Not only is it the calories, but also the source of the calories. This does make a difference. The kind of calories consumed does matter.

Moreover, and far more insidious, are the food additives in processed foods. The various forms of processed glutamate (the most commonly known one is MSG or Mono-sodium Glutamate), are neurotoxins called excitotoxins, that trick the brain into thinking that foods taste good, and that the body is hungry, and targets the hypothalamus, triggering weight gain. Brain cells burn out, including the cells of the hypothalamus, leading to type 2 diabetes.

Aspartame, another excitotoxin, which when metabolized turns to formaldehyde, acts in the same way, burning out brain cells, causing weight gain, etc.