Sunday, December 18, 2011

Calorie Recount

A recent post discussed the computation of calories burned and a comment by my big bruddah has inspired me to think more on the matter. He is, and has always been, a proper intellectual foil. Someday, maybe I'll make a hat out of him.

So here's where we start. Websites I found confirm that a person of approximately my size (give or take a lot...) burns about 85 calories per hour simply by sitting around and doing nothing. This presents me with two separate directions for complaint. And that's a good thing because I don't like to be limited.

First problem -- that 85 calories was burned as I was doing NOTHING. So zero effort equals 85 calories burned. If I want to burn double that, I would have to multiply my effort by 2, right? Well, two times zero is still zero. So I have to sit even more still, and try to do doubly nothing in order to burn 170 calories. To burn close to 300 calories, I would have to really be doing nothing for an hour. This is the kind of training I can handle. Let's say that, somehow, my logic is askew (though I'm not asking you), and that 85 calories is the result of some modicum of effort, be it breathing or somesuch. The jump from zero calories to 85 based on breathing and occasionally crossing and uncrossing my legs is pretty steep. Here, 85 calories = minimum effort. It seems then, that the calories burned should skyrocket if the effort expended is at all demanding, like standing up or peeling a grape. It seems bizarre that it takes extreme effort, the kind that produces sweat, for me to increase the calorie burn by any appreciable amount. It seems that the effort is not proportional to that jump from 0 to 85 accounted for by the leap from "being dead" to "breathing".

The next problem I have is in the realm of practicality. I burn 85 calories simply by sitting around, so a 2000 calorie (or so) diet should keep my weight at a stasis point. The thing is, I don't just sit around. I get up, I walk, I drive stick shift. I should be burning loads of calories when I do the kinds of daily activities -- standing and pacing, hitting the candy machine and typing furiously. Any motion I make should be reflected in a calorie burn and my daily burn amount should not be 85 times 24 hours, but 85 times 7 sleeping hours and a much higher number times my waking hours. I should be able to consume 2600 calories per day without even the hint of gaining weight. Alas, this has not proven to be so. There is some sort of metabolic conspiracy keeping me from slimming down.

1 comment:

  1. Again, math has failed you (or, perhaps, you are really failing math). I avoided this detail of explanation earlier for fear of confusing you, but since you are doing an admirable job of that without my involvement, I'll pile on.

    Given that you are burning, on average, 85 calories an hour by doing nothing, and there is a clear difference between "doing nothing" while awake vs. asleep, one may conclude that the 85 calorie average may be broken down further. Assuming 16 hours awake vs. 8 asleep, one may consider that 100 calories are burned per hour while awake, resulting in a total of 1600 calories burned while awake. Looking at the remaining 400 calories that are burned while sleeping we get 400/8 hrs for an average rate of 50 calories per hour. I have used simple number because I don't want to think too hard. You mileage may vary.

    The net result is that your exercise related caloric burn gets diluted further if you choose to do it while awake. For the best ROI of exercise vs. burned calories, one should always exercise while sleeping.


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.