The Story of Soy (w/ Calorie Chart)

Thinking About Taking Things for Granted

7/21/2010

boy, it’s easy to take important things for granted.  or to hardly notice them at all!

SOME OF MY OLD GRIPES ABOUT GRIPING

i’ve long been a contrarian booster of standard targets of criticism like the phone company, postal service, and other fabulous , extraordinarily valuable, and often essential (though imperfect) usa institutions in general.

on the phone company, people would bitch bitch bitch about some little billing error or short downtime when — all the while — we had the finest, most comprehensive, most reliable, and least expensive nationwide phone service in the world that played a major role in the nation’s success and power.

on the post office, people would bitch bitch bitch about some letter getting there in 3 days instead of 2 days, or about a few cents in per-letter postage, when — all the while — anyone could place a letter in any one of MILLIONs of mailboxes ALL OVER THE COUNTRY,  with at least one within walking distance from almost ANYWHERE … oh wait … nevermind nearby mailboxes … you can leave your letter IN YOUR OWN MAILBOX AND THE POSTAL FOLK WILL PICK IT UP!!!! … and it would be delivered to any one of MILLIONS and MILLIONS and MILLIONS and *MILLIONS* of individual homes and businesses in both urban and rural areas, in just a few days, for not much money, with VERY high — almost perfect — reliability rates.   a gazillion letters go from one person’s personal MAILBOX to another person’s personal MAILBOX across town and across the country every day, but, every time somebody says the words, “postal service” or “the mail”, the old fart up the street goes into his speech about how “it’s all no good and i’ll tell you why because six years ago …” 😉

and, of course, my standard speech about the usa eventually getting onto the right side of the important issues — due to free speech, representative democracy, other constitutional freedoms and stuff, public education, upward mobility of poor and lower economic strata to the top of various parts of society — even if the process was a little messy and turbulent along the way.

even though i’ve been predisposed for a long time to try to see what’s right about important but imperfect institutions (and to promote things like the theory of constraints toc management system that enables individuals and institutions to improve steadily and intelligently in the face of both rising expectations and rising complexity), there’s a lot i missed too.

NOT GRIPES, BUT SOME MORE RECENT EYE-OPENINGS

it’s only in the last ten years i really stopped to consider how easy it is to just not notice and take for granted all the cumulative experience, trial and error, science, and knowledge that goes into “public health” … and “civil engineering” (as in the know-how of bridges and roads and stuff) … and in food and nutrition …

there’s this recurring experience i’ve had over the years where i think about something very ordinary and, for the first time, or at a deeper level, think and realize, “whew!  wow! so that’s how that works.  that’s why we’ve always done it that way.  that’s what they do.  that’s huge.  that’s important.  that’s complicated.  there’s a LOT of ways that could be going wrong if smart people with the public good in mind — outside and inside government — weren’t noticing this stuff, figuring out what’s the right thing, getting it done, and getting everybody in the country into the right habits of supporting it and doing their part.” (note 1 below)

well, anyway, today’s issue isn’t quite as dramatic as all that … but it is another example of me realizing that there’s yet another thing that’s been known and been handled for years by experts that i wasn’t really aware of … i’ve always been willing to challenge and disagree with experts … to offer them some friendly advice about how their respective professions might want to evolve nicely in some way or another ; ) … but, at the same time, i realized that they became experts for a reason … i never wanted to agitate for change in a way that, for an institution or profession, “threw the baby away with the bathwater” … once again … a thinking and change management process like the theory of constraints can be helpful in distinguishing what’s still valid and what’s not for each time and circumstance …

SOY

anyway, what put me into this mind again was … soy.

i spent most of my life thinking of soy as the little packets of dark salty sauce they give with the sweet and sour and hot mustard packets in chinese restaurants and take out.

but, wow.  somebody should write a book on the story of soy.  the role that soy has played in the usa and world.

i’ll help potential authors get started. 🙂

this one’s not like the phone company and post office examples.  it’s not that people are forever bitching about soy (the plant), soy beans (the beans that grow on the plant), soy oil (what you get when you press or squeeze soy beans), soy meal (what you get when you grind up soy beans maybe after pressing the oil out of them), soy sprouts (what you get when you let the soy beans “go to seed”), soy tofu (not sure how that gets made, but i think all tofus come from beans that are allowed to “curd” which i think is a form of fermentation), and soy and/or miso sauce (fermented parts of soy plant, i guess maybe the oil, different kind of fermentation i guess of a different part of the bean).  it’s just that soy has come to my attention twice during the past year or so and i’m getting blown away by facts about i hadn’t been aware of.  by how important and pervasive a role it has been playing in crop rotation for farming and food supplies around the world (including the US) for a long time, by how it’s increasing its role as a high protein low fat additive in processed foods (so processed foods move toward being less “bad”, btw?), by the interesting story of how it spread around the world, and by how close it came to being a principal industrial material in plastics and even cars.

SOY CAME UP EARLIER THIS YEAR: GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

George Washington Carver - American Hero

Earlier this year, soy captured me when a biopic about George Washington Carver pointed out that his work with … hmm … i might be confusing two plants that were used for crop rotation to save important parts of the economy in US history … GWC was famous for peanuts, wasn’t he? … ok, google and wikipedia, do your stuff …  ok, wikipedia’s down, but the google hits were enough to assure me that i was remembering correctly that Carver was not only famous for peanut work, but also for soy work and for being consulted among others by Henry Ford in the possible use of soy products for industrial uses.   another part of that story was that Carver’s studies and promotion of crop rotation with soy plants is said to have saved the southern farms from destroying themselves with soil exhaustion.

that was interesting.

THERE’S NOTICING AND THEN THERE’S NOTICING

it’s not that i never noticed soy outside of packets and bottles of soy sauce over the years.  the phrases — “soybean crop” and “soybean oil” and “soybean futures” and “soybean commodity exchange prices” — are familiar echoes, but i never, as a kid or adult, had the same sense of soy as i had for “corn” and “corn fields”, “wheat fields” and “bread and cereal”, “oats” and “oatmeal”, “hay” and “hayfields”.

update: oh right. all these google hits with, “soybean milkshakes”.  of course.  they’ve been around and popular for a quite a while.  and “soy milk”.  it’s been around, but i haven’t paid much attention to it.   i never really sought out a “meat substitute.”  i substituted fish and chicken and eggs for a lot of red meat for protein.   basic idea 6-8 ounces of meat per day.  an egg to replace one of those ounces.  but people looking for protein sources to eliminate meat — vegetarians, vegans, etc — may have become expert on soy a long time ago.  i stopped being a milkshake drinker a while ago, so soy milkshakes weren’t a replacement for me for milk and ice cream shakes.  point is: this is confirming that soy’s not been a big secret and, once again, i’m the last to know these things … : )  the  more i think about it, the more i realize i’ve been hearing and seeing a LOT of soy stuff in various types of food and drink without getting on board or paying much attention myself.

interesting how we “know” what we “know”.  what we “noticed” but really only “notice” “upon reflection.”

SOY CAME UP AGAIN TODAY:  HOT DOGS

so what started today’s more comprehensive look at soy?  hot dogs.

[ i lost a little writing when the internet went down for a moment just now … they were digressions anyway … calorie counting as being the right answer to weight control and some of the basics (note 5)… rough useful hip-pocket per-ounce meat calories … those digressions were not completely off point since they lead to 1/2 of what i’m concluding is the intrinsic value and importance of soy … that i and everyone should know about … those halves being … first half is about understanding the world around us … the value for crop rotation … farmers grow some soy and plow the whole plant, beans and all, back into the ground to restore nutrients so other crops will work well in that same field … essential … second half is closer to home … source of low-cost low-calorie low-fat low-field-space-per-unit-of-protein protein that maybe’s probably going to show up more and more as a smart day-to-day choice in healthy diets … ]

so back to hot dogs.

HOT DOGS?

i’m slowing down a little here, shifting gears a bit in writing intent, because, as almost always happens with writing, especially in early drafts, individual thoughts become more clear or get corrected and change things … so what i thought i was going to say isn’t completely right anymore … most of the points are still interesting, individually and in other combinations, but not in the original combination … so, from here, we’ll just verbalize and take it where it leads …

in really good blogs, you get the polished result of drafting and revising processes … by contrast, in this lousy crummy low-quality blog, you only get thoughts as they arise and a sense for the thinking/writing process … ; ) #ao #note3

where i thought i was going was … the hot dog package i read today said 40 calories per 45 gram (1-1/2 oz) frank … that seemed hard to believe for a beef frank, even for a low-fat beef frank … but then i saw the “contains soy” on the label … i decided for a while that soy bean filler explained it … but now i’m not so sure … not sure even soy meal is that low per ounce … and not sure how much filler was used … the wording on the label and on the company’s website is, how shall we say it, artful? … i thought this story would go from noticing soy when hearing of gw carver, to noticing soy in hot dogs, to soy filler being something very good to know about, to soy being interesting for a lot of reasons historically and today … but i’m not sure how much soy filler is in the hot dog … might come back to this … we’ll see …

update:  #ss … ah, right.  there’s one piece of it.  if the soy meal (ground up soy bean) is made after the oil’s been pressed out of the bean, it could very well have the calorie count per ounce that could average down from the low-fat beef contribution … maybe … problem is we’re talking about getting to 26-27 calories per ounce! (40 per 1.5 ounce) for the combination of beef and maybe some soy meal filler.  would have to be a REALLY low calorie count on the filler to average down, say, 80 per ounce lean beef.  but maybe it works.  i usually count a cup (8 oz … note 2) of beans at 200 calories, that’s 25 per ounce.  and that’s with the oil still in the bean.  so maybe it does work.  maybe try googling for soy meal (note 6) …

REGARDLESS OF HOW SOY FITS INTO THE HOT DOG ISSUE, SOY ITSELF IS INTERESTING

it’s clear soy has been a very important crop around the world for crop rotation for a very long time.  crop rotation is preventing soil exhaustion, in other words, not harvesting the soy beans, but plowing the whole plant under to restore nutrients in soil on farms after years of those nutrients going away into other basic food crops (like corn).  for thousands of years in asia, beginning in china.  for about 200 years in america.

but it wouldn’t surprise me to find also that soy has been big for a while in food and nutrition (and i’ve missed it), or to find that people think soy is going to play a larger direct role in american healthy diets (harvesting the soy beans for people to consume in some form vs. plowing it under to enrich the soil) …

sometimes, once you finally really notice something for the first time (as opposed to noticing but not really noticing it 🙂 ), you start seeing it everywhere … wonder if soy is going to be one of those things … we’ll see …

THE STORY OF SOY

Oh, I almost forgot.  The story of soy.  Wikipedia gets us off to a good start.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean

The plant was found in China thousands of years ago.  It came to be used there for crop rotation.  Interesting — reading between the lines of the wikipedia article — to consider/imagine the beginnings of farming and how, over many years, somebody noticed the soil wasn’t growing food well anymore.  And, even more interesting, how somebody figured out that NOT planting a desired food plant and instead planting a (at the time) less desirable plant like soy would … hmm … ok … actually, i can see how that could be discovered … a field goes bad … gets ignored … goes to “weed” … a lot of fields do that … farmers move on to other fields that grow food better … “weed” means whatever seeds the wind or birds or other animals brought to the exhausted fields … the “weeds” grow and die in place in the fields, giving their decomposing elements to the soil … somebody tries to grow food on the old abandoned fields … maybe somebody who doesn’t know better … can’t you just see it? … some guy in ancient china, 4-5000 years ago, says, ‘hey, i’m going to plant some food seeds on this here field that nobody’s been using for years” … the “knowledgeable” guy guy says, “you dumb ass.  that field used to grow great, but it went bad. you’re wasting your time.  idiot.” … but the “dumb” guy’s plants grow like crazy … nobody knows why … eventually, after this happens over and over during a hundred or a few hundred years, somebody finally notices that “food plants” grow again on some of the soil that went bad … they go back to some of the old fields … some work … some don’t … the ones that work again eventually stop working again … a lot of somebodies eventually notice that the fields that work again are the ones that had a certain “weed” growing on it … that “weed” eventually gets reconceptualized in their minds as a “rotation crop” to plant every few years to make the soil good again … and that “weed” that became a “rotation crop” was our new friend, soy …

as mentioned, that process takes a hundred years, maybe several hundred years … but, once they know, they know … but the only ones who know are the ones who know, you know?  ; ) … silly, funny, but true … at first, only the farmers in China who noticed it knew … then, after a while, the idea, the practice, the technique of growing and plowing under the plant called soy every once in a while became the “known” “best practice” … the know-how of those farmers … in this case, the know how (crop rotation) AND the know what (the plant they came to call, soy) …

Unless it’s kept secret, know-how has a way of spreading ….

People visiting or leaving China to other Asian countries take some soy back to their countries.

Thousands of years later, in the 1700’s in some part of colonial America, and later when American fields in the south and in the dust bowl midwest needed recharging, soy plants came to the rescue as crop rotation plants.

And, oh by the way, that plant produces a bean … that has oil … that can be pressed and then ground into a “meal” (paste) … fermented one way for curd and tofu … fermented another way for soy sauce and miso sauce … and processed in totally another way for Henry Ford to build car parts and wear suits made of it.

Amazing stuff.

Great story.

And that’s the story of soy.

tom

NOTES

note 1:

want to get a sense of wonder, appreciation, and gratitude for the people who handle these things? … try this thought exercise … imagine … not just imagine … place yourself in the position in your mind that you have to be the one who gets that bridge built … you … with what’s in your head … what do you look for in the ground on both sides? … in the bottom of the river? … what do you do with what you find out? … do you really know how to decide how thick the steel needs to be? … or what the choices for the roadbed material are? … and how they’ll respond to the temperatures and number of cars and weight of trucks that will go over the bridge? … how will you… know … not guess … know … how long that bridge should last? … and so forth … and, by the way, it doesn’t work to say, “well, i’ll be the manager and get the various experts to tell me these things.”  … no dice … the expert is youfor this exercise … some manager type is going to come to you and get your input on what definitely … not maybe probably … will work safely, not kill people, and not waste HUGE amounts of money on something that’s a catastrophe …

i had that experience once in the late 90’s in new york city when coming upon and looking at a renovation that was going on in the underground and first few floors of a very tall skyscraper … i was struck with admiration for the person, or team of people, in the engineering firm who could make a plan for opening up that space safely, taking things out from under the bottom of that goddam skyscraper … knowing that what they put back in, in the right sequence, with what they were taking out, would definitely … not probably … but definitely … not result in people getting buried, killed, and the skyscraper being weakened …

i had another of those moments when stuck in traffic one day in downtown boston not far from the old boston garden … the elevated road structures looping around to form ramps … i’m thinking … i couldn’t design that andknow it would work, safely, and last for as many years as all this not real pretty steel has obviously been around … you can see it almost anywhere … there’s know how in how the rain water is directed off our roads and properties to avoid flood under most circumstances … enough for now …

Note 2:

This 8 ounces in a cup thing.  There’s volume (fluid ounces) and weight (weight ounces and grams with something like 28 or round it off to 30 grams per weight ounce).  For a lot of food things, i use the old folk saying poem known to all people, mostly women, who cooked in prior generations, “a pint’s a pound the world around.”  a pint = two cups = 16 fluid ounces.  a pound = 16 weight ounces.  clearly, since that little poem became famous among practical housewives, a LOT of cooking-related things must be that way.  that’s another fun little investigation.  when i thought about a few years ago, i think i found that this works for water, 1 fl oz = 1 weight ounce.  so for things with similar densities (some other liquids) or for things with higher densities but air space in the measuring cup (like beans), it also works on a “roughly” “close enough” basis.  : )

Calorie estimating and counting, and calorie balancing (input and output), are essential to reliable body weight management.  To make calorie intake practical, approximations are essential.  For example, I use 200 per cup for all non-green beans, all pastas, all rice, cous cous, and maybe some other stuff.  Though one fava bean might have a label that works out to 190 per cup, and one rice may have a label number that works out to 230 per cup, I still count both at 200.  If I try to deal with the 10 difference here and 30 difference there, calorie intake estimating/monitoring becomes a pain in the ass instead of something interesting, pleasant, natural, and routine.  A lot of veggies are 100 per cup for me – corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and any veggie i’m not sure about.  Until i figured out okra was 50 per cup, i was lumping it, over-counting it, with the 100 per cup stuff.  it’s not about being precise.  it’s about getting started and steadily increasing control.  green watery stuff i count as all 50 per cup — spinach, lettuce, bell pepper (any color), kale.  on meats, per ounce, 25 white fish incl tuna packed in water, 40 chicken w/o skin, 50 chicken w/ skin, 50-70 ham depending on fat, 70-75 pork and veal, 80-120 for beef depending on fat content.  seen some 50 per ounce beef labels, may be right, but i haven’t been persuaded by any reason to believe it, so i count lean beef at 80.  close enough.  (#note4) … pickles, salza, peppers, some (not all) mustards are zero.  mushrooms too.  i sometimes think of watery green veggies as zero rather than count the small numbers.  important thing is avoid or have only small quantities of the high-cal stuff … with fats, sugar … counting the high-cal stuff helps you keep intake at or under your outgo, maintain or lose body weight … view as a lifetime learnining thing … a little investment in reading calorie labels to get started … and learn a little more every once in a while … talk about it with like-minded friends … “oh yeah, bullshit.  carrots are 50 per cup”  “are not” “are so” … since we’re going to enjoy interacting, it may as well be about something as useful as having the amount of bodyweight we want … ; )

by the way, being careful about whether carrots are 50 per cup vs. 100 per cup is not very important.  call them 50, or 100, or 75, i forget for sure.  look it up if you like.  what’s REALLY important is to know that, when you’re eating carrots, you’re not eating doritos or potato chips or chicken wings or nuts that are loaded with calories, are things you tend to eat a lot of, go down fast, and (except for nuts) don’t have the nutritional value.   what’s important for snack foods is — either eat none of them, let your experience of them shift from them being attractive to not attractive (that works), or decide to have small budgeted known-calorie quantities of them as little treats and special events.

a few big deals about the way we experience food:

1.  you can allow your experience of specific foods to shift from naturally attracted to naturally repelled and vice versa.

2.  you can allow small quantities of high calorie foods to satisfy you.  if you notice your experience carefully while eating, you’ll notice that you really enjoy the first bite or taste and maybe the second, but usually after the first the wah-hoo yeah-man of the taste is gone and you’re just eating because of how much you liked the first taste.  guys, think about how we tell ourselves, the first beer’s always the best.  this means we don’t need to deny ourselves ANY high-calorie food.  we can enjoy, savour really, that first taste of some small quantity

3.  this one will rock your world if you try it.  it turns out that just savouring the aroma of a high-calorie food gives that first-taste experience of satisfaction.  if, in your head, you decide to really notice the full experience that the aroma gives … you’ll notice that the enculturation/habit that has us acting out the “oh that smells really good, i’m going to really chow down!” : ) behavior pattern isn’t necessary to a very high level of satisfaction … [ consider that the gourmets and winophiles place a lot of emphasis on the effect of the aroma both before placing wines and food in their mouths — and after.  it’s well-known that the sense of smell and taste are closely-related.  this stuff in the brackets came to mind after i noticed what was going on in experience of the aroma of foods … what happened is i was using will-power (not a good strategy, better is to shift nature of natural experience … the result looks the same, but using will-power over the long term for other than shifting habitual natural experience is too hard to last … it’s what werner erhard meant by don’t just continue to do “struggle and effort” (will power) … instead “transform the experience” … in my words, sure, use the power of will and intention … werner’s est used the idea of “intention” a lot too … to point the self at the desired natural experience, and, like siddhartha’s allegory of the stone through the water, allow the self to shift the nature of the natural experience … so will, intention, power of the self, all play a role in this, but just bare knuckles will-power ongoing stuggle-and-effort is doing it the hard way, the way that people often just stop doing because whatever it is remains hard and never becomes natural and, in a way, “effortless” … “effortless” in the sense that an athlete in the mental state called “in the zone” is using effort in the sport, but is, in another sense, “effortlessly” and naturally and powerfully and coherently flowing through the motions … one of the many very powerful points of est was that this phenomenon can show up in any aspect of life … in this case, we’re dealing with experiences related to food … ) to NOT eat some food that smelled good … that day, instead of resisting the lovely aroma, due to the idea that the nice aroma was going to increase my feeling of being denied something, i instead really participated, “leaned into”, the aroma, enjoying every little aspect of it fully … and i found, to my amazement, that i didn’t have any huge need anymore to actually eat it … i gave myself permission to have this  thing that was true anyway be true for me … the obstacle there is nobody speaks about it that way and our enculturation is to please ourselves and the hostess/cook by being enthusiastic about aroma, taste, actual eating … those culture /social things aren’t bad … can still do all that participation/enthusiasm stuff while eating zero or small quantities … ; ) … there’s first the possibilities in experience … and then there’s the how to manage to exploit those possibilities of experience and still have fun with other people … not an either/or …

4.  trying to think if there’s another one at that level of nature/choice of how we experience food … another one not coming immediately to mind and have to get ready to go somewhere …

Note 3, aka the annie oakley note ; )

i’ve long been aware of the linkage between the writing and thinking process.  it’s yet another of those things that, it’s there all the time, but we often don’t notice it.  then once we see it, we see it all the time.  then, after a while, we take it fro granted, use it all the time, but don’t notice it as much again.

before computer word processors were ubiquitous, i used to jokingly call my crucible for finding useful ideas for beginning to crack what seemed to be permanently stuck problems as my “magic pen”.  whenever i got to the point, in just thinking silently in my own head, or finding some pair or group i was thinking and discussing with was going around in circles getting nowhere, i’d say to myself breezily, “ok, time for the magic pen” … not realizing the profound significance of the phenomenon i’d come to take for granted … what timeframe had this become an implicit assumption … let’s see … probobly 80’s, age range 30’s … now late 50’s … i’d pick up my pen and piece of paper and just start “talking” about the issue and, usually within a few or maybe a few 10’s of minutes … voila! … out would stream from what i called my “intuition” some fact i was assuming about the situation, some implicit assumption, that, when relaxed or resolved with some other action, cracked the seemingly stuck situation wide open … later, beginning in 1989, i began to see my little process as one piece of the theory of constraints toc thinking processes i was learning from eli goldratt … in other words, one of the reasons i came to see the huge, even historic, value of making the toc thinking processes the standard thinking process in the world was that i could see that my little “magic pen” thing was assumed in the “verbalizing intuition” part of TOC and that the rest of the thinking process (TP) gave a much more concise, efficient, and effective framework for building and implementing solutions and plans based on the fresh idea that came from surfacing the implicit assumptions (in TOC terms, the “policy constraints” or “thinking constraints” vs. “physical constraints”) …

anyway, what made me think of this was a simple comment i was going to make about thinking, writing, and something i learned about recently called constructivism … very recently, within the past year, i’ve done a little reading that let me know that there are several schools of serious cognitive, linguistic, development, etc research and thinking that deal with the interaction of language and thinking.   in fact, some say, i think correctly, that certain so-called cognitive skills ARE language, since language is sounds/symbols attached to experience … if we have no correct experience / mental picture associated with the language items, “return on investment” or “hurdle rate” or “discounted rate of return”, then we also don’t have those thinking and cognitive skills.  same for “hypothesis” “experiement” “data” etc in the science thinking process.  and for addition, subtraction, triple integration, et al in math.

that’s all background to the simple comment that i almost wrote in the main text that seeing this writing/thinking process, or maybe it’s a thinking/writing process, as a process  of tapping and/or, more to the current point, creating new knowledge is what some call “constructivist” view of knowledge, i.e., the individual is constructing the new knowledge in his/her mind in the process of finding words that match the experience/thinking and using words and more thinking to extend the thoughts further and further into new thinking.  even if the knowledge is new only to the individual, “learning” it by “constructing” it for oneself vs. just hearing and repeating, makes a big difference in the nature of education and results in terms of what an “educated individual” is and does in his/her head all his/her life after the “education”.  cool stuff.

so that’s the annie oakley note.  why annie oakley?  because i’ve always adored annie oakley and just feel like naming this note for her.  messing around.  having a little rootin’ tootin’ fun. ; )

Note 4:  beef at 50 calories per ounce?  naaah … wait … maybe so …

when i first learned the calorie estimating and balancing (including healthy food groups mixing) strategy from an outfit named health management resources, hmr, before working out over the years all my little shortcuts and tactics that make it all, as hmr predicted, easy and fun as part of a long-term life routine …

back then, i learned from hmr’s charts of rough calorie numbers for various food types to think of beef as, i think it was (this was in the early 90’s), 90-120 cal per ounce for lean through marbled prime rib … never got clear about whether that was weight before or after cooking … i’ve used after cooking … yet another refinement to investigate someday if i feel like it … illustrates that the way to do it is, work with a few rough numbers at first, and then learn a little more by reading labels or, these days, googling, every once in a while, and adding to one’s own little memory and ragged little notes about roughly which foods are how much calories in what amounts, plus having a little 5-10 dollar food scale 0 through 1 pound, and training your eye to guestimate amounts of stuff when using the food scale isn’t convenient … like at your mother in law’s dinner … it’s easiest to estimate calories from food when they’re not mixed … one thing that happens is gravitate mix of foods toward things you can count … mixed foods and processed foods and fast foods without and without  calorie labels … some situations food is uncountable … too complex … punt, enjoy, watch quantities, and start counting again the next meal, or day … all of it is starting “now” anyway … all incremental bits of figuring out little practical solutions … little bits of know how …

back to beef calories …

in recent years, i’ve become persuaded that 80 cal/ oz is the number i’ll use when i think beef either starts out real lean or gets most of the fat cooked out of it, or both.

as mentioned, been skeptical until yesterday and today — in the thinking wake of this soy hot dog at 40 frigging calories per 1-1/2 oz frank claim (that i’m now inclined to believe, btw, i’m thinking hebrew national’s low fat beef hotdogs that contain soy are a great product for getting protein which is really the main reason to eat meat at all.  they also taste good.  so hebrew national’s got a nice product there.  careful, though.  you want the one that does NOT say “no additives”.  the one that says “no additives” is 150 calories per hot dog.  i know “additives” sounds bad, but not if the “additive” is soy, with what i’m learning is soy’s unique position as the one plant that has ALL of the protein elements to allow it to serve, like meats, as human protein source) — of this 50 cal per ounce i’ve been seeing on a lot of beef over the past few years.  why the change?  because it’s wal mart.  it’s been a few years.  if wal mart has been understating calories on its meat for all that time SOMEBODY would have made a BIG issue of it.  some government group, or consumer watchdog group, or some local or national walmart hater.  once i accept it as true, it makes sense.  red meat’s been getting kicked in the teeth in terms of market share by fish and chicken by people like me who have, not eliminated, but drastically reduced their red meat.  also by increasing mainstreaming of once-marginal vegetarians and vegans and such with, as i’m understanding more in the last few days, with soy and other beans and maybe other stuff.  so beef industry HAD to respond.  how would i respond if i were they?  i’d work on feeding, breeding, and anything else in the process of getting beef ounces to the grocery store that would lower the fat and calorie content.  i’m now assuming that’s what they’ve done.  although i googled to find that argument and was disappointed not to find it yet.  but the only other explanation is that beef marketers and retailers, including wal mart, are getting away with a big lie, which is unlikely on two counts.  unlikely that they would want to lie in the first place and unlikely they could get away with it for very long if they tried.

50 cal per ounce beef changes the power structure in the meat part of the protein world …

and if soy protein is “complete protein” (can safely completely replace meat), and it’s coming in at a cal/ounce value low enough to get a hebrew national hot dog’s lean beef content averaged down to 27 or so calories per ounce, that changes the power structure in the meat vs. meatless issue in the protein world …

both things put new pressure on chicken that got a huge boost for a while from people like me for years eating a LOT more chicken at the expense of beef, not knowing that beef’s calories had gotten much lower … still just thinking out loud here … verbalizing … and then there’s the price … probably chicken’s still less expensive than beef even though calorie counts are closer … maybe the leaner cuts of beef are more expensive than the less lean cuts? …

what made me start this note?

oh.  right. i now believe the 50 cal / ounce label on lean beef from reputable sources.

Note 5:

note 5?  this essay is really needing a re-org. not going to get it though.  that’s not what this blog is.

ok, those calorie balance basics that got lost.

basic thermodynamics.  energy in (eating), energy out (basic “metabolism” which requires a little explanation to avoid suffering from some common misconceptions … it’s basically the energy needed to maintain body temperature, run your body’s chemistry, keep heart and lungs pumping and brain cells firing and stuff, and your basic getting around in life activity, the walking around to the bathroom, getting dressed, doing chores, going to the office or school, and the like), excess energy calories eaten but not burned stored (body fat increase), stored energy used up because more burned than eaten that day (body fat decrease).

eat more calories then you burn in a day, body fat goes up at a rate of 3500 calories per pound of body fat.

eat less calories than you burn in a day and body fat goes down at that same rate.

the calorie-burning effects of exercise other than getting around in work and life can be estimated reasonably well, but we won’t deal with them here.

“basic burn”, basic daily burn of calories for a lot of men is 12 times naked bodyweight.

basic daily burn for a lot of women is 10 times naked body weight.

200 pound man burns 2400 calories per day just being alive and getting around in a normal day, in other words, before he runs, walks for exercise, bikes, goes to the gym.

130 pound woman burns 1300 calories per day before swimming, aerobics, or other “exercise”

some people sit around more.  other people get up and do the incremental thing like straighten the crooked picture.  that maybe effects the 10 and 12 numbers a little.  i think the effect of food mix and genes and body chemistry type on those 10 and 12 numbers is a damaging myth, or at least a HUGE overstatement.  in other words, people who say, i can’t lose weight because of my metabolism just aren’t counting all the pepsi they’re drinking as if it were water.  if they do the math, they’ll find the rate of pound going on, or staying on, works with their bodyweight time 10 0r 12 and what’s going into their mouths each day.   where the numbers may have to change down is for sick, elderly, or bedridden who don’t get up and around at all.  they might change up a little for workers who exercise so much on their jobs, manual laborers who really exert for much of the day, professional athletes.   when i did the math the first time, the 12 number worked perfectly for me.  if it didn’t, i’d have adjusted it to 11 or 13 as necessary.  this is a long way of saying, for most of us, just use the 10 or12 to get started because it’s probobly going to be the right number for your mainstream case anyway.  and forget the “i have a slow metabolism” idea.  the main effect on the 10 or 12 is whether you’re a go go go person all the time or whether you’re a couch potato sitting around a lot concentrating on maintaining 98.6 and channel surfing or massively multiplayer gaming and such.

that’s it.  calories go in.  calories go out.  3500 per pound of fat.  bodyweight time 10 for women.  bodyweight times 12 for men.  have fun.

Note 6:  soy “meal”

soy “meal” as in soy beans after the oil is squeezed out of them and after what’s left has been ground up into a powder or paste …

haven’t found any numbers yet that say something like, an ounce of soy “meal” is, say, 9-10 calories, so mix that with an ounce of 50 calorie lean beef, and you get 2 ounces of 29-30 calorie per ounce soy/beef mix …

i’m trying to test the theory that this is the kind of thing that’s going on to get a 40 calorie 1-1/2 oz hot dog frank.

having fun now …

hmm … i may be on the wrong track here with this “soy meal” idea … the actual label, in the ingredients area, as the first three ingredients, before it says other things that are less than 2%, lists “beef, water, and modified food starch*” … with a * that refers to a note that says “in amounts in excess of amounts permitted in normal beef franks” … “hydrolyzed soy protein” is in the less than 2% list … and after ingredients are over it states “contains soy” in larger letters …

starting to look like the food starch plays a larger role than any part of soy … i think they have to state soy due to soy allergies … and would like to for the healthy marketing image thing that’s been driving me these last day or two …

a site i linked below says hydrolized soy protein isn’t considered positive by everybody … some sort of msg issue …

the plot thickens … having fun now …

 

Note 7:  Here’s a pretty good source about soy:

http://www.nsrl.uiuc.edu/aboutsoy/soynutrition.html

this is a pretty good reading.  the section on “soy isolates” is interesting.  used in meat products.  possible that’s what in the hot dogs that started all this discussion.

wonder who these authors are? … ok, nsrl = national soybean research laboratory.  cool.  and uicu = university of illinois at urbana-champaign.

Note 8:  Here’s the hebrew national 40 calorie hot dog that started all of this …

http://www.hebrewnational.com/products/hot-dog-beef-franks.jsp

Note 9:  And there, of course, are arguments AGAINST soy

the “hydrolyzed soy protein” listed on my hot dog package isn’t everybody’s favorite.  and it sounds like there’s some argument that says hydrolyzed soy protein is a way of having MSG without having to put it on the list of ingredients on the package.  the plot thickens …

http://www.soyinfo.com/soydefs.shtml

Note 10:  using Calorie charts to create our own calorie counting quick references

http://www.ntwrks.com/~mikev/chart1.html

charts like this one from “mikey” … are great to consult for individual food items, but, for practical day to day, you’ll want to lump a lot of things together in clusters of similar-calorie content … like the 200 per cup for all pastas, rices, cous cous, beans, and such.  100 per cup for a list of veggies.  to build your own clusters map, go into one of the detailed alphabetical lists like the one above, get one data point, and add to your own map of clusters of interest to you …

hmr’s slides were very good starts.  one page each for veggies, fruits, meats, grains, beverages, desserts, common processed foods/mixtures … each page sideways … lower calorie stuff in group on left … higher calorie stuff in group on the right … fruits – per oz … veggies – per cup (that tells you something … per cup vs. per ounce … low low low) … meats – per oz … beverages – water diet soda zero … grains …

let’s make our own chart for veggies from the alphabetical list above …

let’s go into the list for … start with lettuce to show the issues … mikey’s chart has 6 listings for lettuce … we’re building a per cup (8 fluid oz) chart … units on mikey’s chart are … one head 20 cal … one head 70 cal … one wedge … 20 cal … 1 cup 5 cal … 1 cup 1o cal … 1 leaf zero cal …

what do with all that data?  a couple of things. one is consider lettuce zero calories and eat as much as you want whenever you want … nice munching food … get a bunch of leaves, iceberg, romaine, red, there are lots of types of lettuce to play with … wash ’em … put ’em on a plate and have them for a few hours of munching when doritos or coke or cheese its or something else might have been there … success! … for our little chart, just write lettuce on the far left of the left to right scale at the 5-10 cal per cup mark …

repeat for spinach, kale, parsley … you can check them if you want, but, for now, just write them under lettuce at 5 per cup …

let’s check brussel sprouts … mikey’s chart has two line items … one is 60 per cup, one 65 … for our purposes, these are the same number, 60, or even 50.  in other words, if you get too precise vs. just get a sense for what’s “on the left” (real low), what’s in the middle (moderate calories per cup), and what’s on the right (high for veggies but still real low compared to fruits and especially compared to most meats, snacks, and stuff), it’ll become tedious and no longer a fun adventure and process of discovery … that’s also easy to remember or check quickly … and use …

ok, carrots … here’s a good example of potential confusion that can make you think it’s not workable, and what to do … mikey’s list has 6 items for carrots … 5 for 1 cup with values of 35 35 45 55 and 70 calories … then it has for 1 carrot (big? small? thick? thin?) 30 calories … this is great … i just use 50 per cup and whenever i have a whole raw carrot — delicious snacking food — i visualize how much of a cup it would be and i don’t worry about whether the 30 or 40 or 50 i come up with is exact … i know i’m keeping hands and mouth busy, beating boredom, getting a bit filled, getting excellent nutrition for 30-50 cal … and i’m NOT eating doritos, potato chips at 150 PER OUNCE or nuts at 300 PER OUNCE!!! (correction: nuts at 165-185 per ounce.  still high.  enjoy/savour slowly small quantities or avoid, unless you’re going on a hike and want lots of calories that don’t weigh much in your trail mix, in which case it’s demonstrated once again that high calorie foods aren’t “bad”, they just have calorie consequences … enjoy all the foods at frequencies and in quantities appropriate to their caloric density … right thing in the right amount the given circumstances … range of validity for you toc fans … ; ) when it’s very tough to eat only 1 ounce of them …

so on our little left to right chart … we now have lettuces, spinach, kale, parsley, coriander, mustard greens, water cress, bean sprouts, all on the left at 5 or so per cup … brussel sprouts at about 60 in the middle and carrots at 50 just to left of the brussels sprouts …

cool?  you bet.

onward into the cruciferous veggies … brussels sprouts might be cruciferous … not sure … ok, they are … kale, apparently, is too … mikey’s charts says 40 per cup for kale … ok … no biggie … anyway, onward to good stuff like cauliflower, broccoli …

let’s go to corn instead to get a point on the right side … mikey’s chart has 14 entries for corn … i want ONE per cup calorie number … anytime i have corn, i’ll, in my mind, visualize how much of a cup the amount of corn i’m eating is … and use the 1 cup number … before looking at mikey’s numbers, i’ll repeat that i am in the habit of using 100 per cup for corn and other veggies … that’s because i have this GREAT product from wal mart that is mixed frozen fresh veggies for soup … a dozen or so veggies that all average out to about 100 per cup … ok, mikey has from 135 to 185, with most at 165 for corn … my 100 number is off … but the calorie balancing’s been working for me … maybe over counting something else … i was over-counting okra for a while … even if you have the wrong numbers for a while, using these ideas keeps the food consumption conscious and “in the ballpark” vs. completely out of control, no clue how eating relates to calories burned … get the idea … one of the biggest obstacles to getting the benefits of calorie estimating/counting/balancing is getting too serious about being too precise about the numbers … you want to know that corn is higher than lettuce and bell pepper and lower then chicken and beef and doritos … if you have to check your quick reference from time to time to refresh the approximate calorie numbers, cool.  no problem.

sometimes it’s not a simple lookup and figuring out which of several line items … sometimes, when you read the serving size, cal per serving, out of the box vs. prepared according to recipe, it’s still not easy to know in some convenient measure how many calories you’re getting.  the numbers on popcorn and mashed potatoes are my best example.  i finally gave up on both of them and use unbuttered corn and assume 100 or so per bag, and for mashed flaked mash potatoes i use a surprising 300 per cup.  i know it makes no sense when a good size baked potato is a good calorie choice at about 100-120 baked.  but the numbers on these boxes seem to say the flakes are caloric.  don’t know how.  adding milk and maybe a little butter to mashed potato flakes is part of it, but can limit that and they still taste ok … i don’t know … like i said, i’m probably overcounting at 300 per cup but i’m ok with that since my concern is mashed potatoes are so easy to eat a lot of and i’d rather put on the brakes, have smaller quantities, have some leftovers for snack or next day, and have some idea that i’m keeping daily calorie intake close to daily calorie burn.  it’s not an exact science.  it’s a “keeping it roughly in the ballpark” adventure … so i over-commented on the confusion i recall about mashed potato flakes just to illustrate the issues and judgement calls involved in steadily adding to one’s working practical knowledge of the calorie contents of various kinds of foods …

some other roadblocks and tips … hard candy … sugar i think is about 75 per teaspoon … rather than deny oneself hard candy once in a while for fun or treat … have one or two pieces and consider the hard candy to be 100% sugar … another issue … oily stuff … i think oils used for frying and oils anywhere are about 100 per tablespoon or ounce … if decide to eat some deep friend oil soaked goodie, crispy covering on KFC extra crisply, seafood at beach fried foods place … visualize the amount of oil in teaspoons got absorbed / soaked up in the batter, add a little for the batter itself … and know roughly what you’re doing … i am willing to eat ANY hi calorie, even high oil or high fat, or high sugar, thing — IN SMALL QUANTITY, FOR TASTE — and i keep a sense of how many of my daily calories i’m devoting to that little adventure … and then move on to the next adventure … i’m not suggesting forcing lots of small quantities of high cal stuff … in fact, i’ve intended and allowed my experience of a lot of formerly fav hi cal hi fat snack foods change from liking to repulsed by them … but, once in a while, it changes things up to blow the entire day’s calorie budget with extra crispy KFC … home recipes … like lasagna or cakes or pies … add up the calories in the ingredients, divide by number of servings … at mother in law, she’s serving dinner, look at what it is, maybe express interest in recipe, get sense of what’s in it, estimate calories in your serving … for instance, your plate arrives with macaroni salad … estimate the amount of pasta at 200 per cup … estimate the cups of various veggies, celery zero, beans 200 per cup … so what’ on your plate is 100 of pasta 70 of veggie 10o of oil for 270.  it’s a great game.  don’t have to tell anybody you’re doing these things in your head.  don’t need to make a big production and pain in the ass of oneself.  gives control.  is fun.  knowledge and skill are cumulative.  oh and don’t forget alcohol.  people who say fat grams are all you need to pay attention to are wrong.  alcohol and hard candy are two zero-fat-gram things that’ll smear fat on you real fast.  (once again, fat gram counting is not comprehensive; only calorie counting includes all the calories sources.  fat gram awareness is a good thing; it can help identify high fat things to avoid or have small quantities.  but calorie awareness does that too, and for all the many non-fat calories as well)  beer calories are on the bottle these days.  can use them on an estimated volume basis for draft beer values.  as i recall, red and white wine per ounce values are simple.  one number each per ounce for red and wine.  i don’t think mikey’s chart is right.  red i think is more than white.  mikey’s got it backwards.  can get it from most wine bottle labels these days.  about 20-25 per fluid ounce.  use 25 for red 20 for white.  that’s dry wine.  sweet’s another matter; read the label on the bottle.  more per ounce for champagne and dessert wines.  pure spirits like vodka and gin about 100 per shot.  other hard liquors higher especially when sweeter or mixed with sweet stuff.

for the fruits, i list the per ounce (fluid ounce, taking calories for a cup and dividing by 8 … people often assume fruits and veggies are “ounce equivalent”, “a pint’s a pound the world around” et al … i do that … i checked it for some juices and fruits a long time ago.  i forget what i found.  but i just use the old pint’s a pound assumption to keep things simple), but, in day to day practice, i just use 100 calories for a banana of pretty much any size, 70 or 80 depending on my mood for an apple or orange or peach or pear or nectarine of pretty much any size.  in other words, while i think the chart nicely puts fruits in per-ounce perspective with lots of fruits grouped down at 10, grapes at 20, and guacamole’s dangerous (i.e., enjoy/savour slowly in small quantities) avacado way out there at 50, i usually just use “per piece” numbers when having “a piece” of fruit.

Building Our Own Handy Calorie Counting/Estimating Quick Reference (click on the image for larger display)

the numbers in the above diagram started out as demonstrating how to use mikey’s chart (just the first calorie chart i found when googling for one, not necessarily right, the best, or my first choice).  when i moved to the meats, i used the figures i’ve had in my head since HMR class in the 90’s with the only adjustments being the lower numbers for the leaner cuts of beef available these days.  mikey didn’t have a grape per-ounce figure, so i googled to some other source.  in other words, if you can’t figure out how i arrived at some of these numbers from mikey’s list, it’s because i looked at other sources, used my judgement, and wrote down the number i felt was best.

anyway, we can see that making our own quick reference that clusters calorically-similar foods together, with similar units, converts the gazillions of line items of the typical calorie chart /list / book with their different units into something much simpler and more clear.  this makes keeping aware, conscious, of roughly how many calories are going in feasible.  enjoy!

a chart like this (that becomes an image in our minds), an inexpensive little plastic food scale, and a measuring cup are the basic toolset.  as to the food scale and measuring cup, i’ve used them two different ways.  i’ve gotten to where i like weighing and measuring things, so that’s one way … measure and weigh more than necessary : ) .  the other way i originally did it, and still do sometimes when i feel like it, is have used the scale and cup to get calibrated on what an ounce or a six ounces of chicken “looks like”.  or what a cup of beans or rice “looks like”.  in life, we know roughly how large a gallon of milk or a gallon gas can “looks”, right?  same works for food if we give our eyes some reference quantities.   so, in this second method, instead of weighing the chicken  or measuring out the rice every time, we just “eyeball” it … example … yeah, that’s about 3 ounces of lean beef … or … ok, that’s aboooooooooout, oh, i don’t know, maybe a cup and a half of bowtie pasta …

as said before, it’s not about precision … it’s about moving … from … being totally unconscious and totally without a clue (or, in some cases, totally wrong) about how the calories we’re consuming relate to the calories we’re burning each day … to … staying involved, interested, and conscious … and steadily increasing our knowledge and skills and enjoyment in dealing with issues of food, nutrition, and — oh by the way — body weight.

smooth sailing!

tom

Note 11:  exercise

ps: a note on exercise.  it’s all good. getting up to straighten the crooked picture instead of sitting on the couch ignoring it. getting the paper towel and cleaning something off the frig shelf or window or computer screen.  right.  ALL OF IT.  the more of this ordinary “non-workout” “non-gym” exercise you do, the better … getting out of your chair and getting your own coffee, the incremental walking and standing … going a slightly longer way or taking the stairs when you don’t have to … all of that kind of stuff … think about it … everything you do, including just sit there and maintain 98.6 degree internal body temp, is using calories … and maintaining muscle mass and tone and flexibility … all exercise is good …

having made VERY clear that ALL exercise is good, i’m going to make two statements that, unless you hear them right and know what i’m saying, can cause confusion … first, you can’t manage body weight … i’m talking about body fat … with exercise alone … second, from the standpoint of calorie balancing, walking (not running, not biking, not weight lifting) is the best exercise … that doesn’t make biking bad … biking is good … c’mon, bikers, jeez i said biking is good … but walking uses all the large lower and some upper muscles and burns lots of calories without prematurely reaching anaerobic (exhaustion) levels of exertion in any muscle groups … we are built to be able to walk a lot more than we can do anything else, and that turns out to be PERFECT for the calorie balancing, body fat management, part of life … ok, ok, ok, OK, bikers … man … i HEAR you … i like biking too … i once biked from the mid west to the west coast i like it so much … but, from the viewpoint of body fat management over a lifetime, walking is the best … by the way, if the only exercise you’re willing to do is biking, then biking is better than nothing … but the bike, not your big strong legs, is carrying your bodyweight … when you’re doing downhill, you’re burning nothing … it’s nice … it’s fun … i like it … but it’s not steadily burning calories and maintaining your walking strenth from toe to ankle to leg to knee to leg to hip to back and arms swinging from shoulders … and, even when you’re pedaling up that hill, it’s a narrow cross-section of your leg muscles that are being used to and past the anaerobic point (where you can’t pedal any more), you’re building strength there, it’s not a bad thing, but, from the viewpoint of body fat management, walking is better … so do both … during a week, walk some, run some if you must, and bike some, and, hell, swim some … i’m more interested in the lower end, the minimum sufficiency view, rather than the jock and jockette view … i’m interested in what everybody, young and old (unless debilitated) can reasonably do within a normal life … the jocks and jockettes can do that and then add biking or, if they’re smart enough, build their own plan that meets all their needs … no problem …

so those two points again …

first, you mostly can NOT count on exercise — even walking — to allow you to maintain your bodyweight, your amount of body fat.  you have to do that with control of food.  exercise can help with body fat a little, both general being active (very smart to do) and “working out”, but you simply can’t make up for not controlling calorie intake (sodas, high fat snack foods, lots of butter and sauces, too much fatty meats, etc) with the calories you get from exercise … exercise DOES help with strength, muscle tone, appearance, endurance, fitness, all for sure.  but you can exercise like crazy and, if you don’t know how many calories you’re ingesting, you can still gain both muscle mass (usually good) AND body fat.  there are pretty good ways to estimate the calorie effects of exercise.  at … i’m not really talking about the special issue of muscle mass for serious athletes, recuperating people, or elderly/sedentary … i’m talking about the mainstream issue most people have which is, amount of body fat …

ballpark, for most people … don’t expect to build enough exercise into your life that you get more than 100 or 200, maybe 300, if you’re obsessive about it, maybe, but not likely 500 calories from “working out” “exercise”, including walking … when i worked this out for the first time in 1993, i had optimal circumstances … a job that let me make my own hours … easy access to a nice place to walk … tapes i wanted to learn from during the walk so even that time was “not wasted” … a nordic track (cross country skiiing is even better than walking, but is a lot more hassle, like having to have a treadmill to walk) … a little reading tray on my nordic trak and/or headset again to make “ski” time “not wasted” … and i had good estimating rules from that HMR outfit (that all tested out to be right)  … and, with those obsessive researching intentions, and flexibility in using my time, 300 was pretty standard and 500 was a LOT, a WHOLE LOT, for a day …

point is … plan to maintain, or manage down, body fat with the basic calorie balance idea of 10 times weight for women and 12 times for me, vs. calorie intake for the day.  then exercise, get maybe 100 or 200 from walking, four times each week.  try to do every day.  why not walk every day, right?  say you’re a man, 200 pounds, 2400 per day basic burn.  you maintain with that.  if you walk and get 200 more burn each day, you burn body fat at that rate.  3500 / 200 = about 17 days.  so balancing calories by controlling food, walking for 200 each day, you lose a pound every 2 1/2 weeks, which is great.  the pounds go on slowly over time.  it’s best to take them off slowly too, a pound or two a month is a good pace.  if you get to 190, maybe that’s where you want to be, basic burn is 1900 plus 38 , round down to the 1900, the walking lets you have a glass of wine every day and still maintain.

that’s the way it works.  base the routine on calorie balance focused on food.  exercise?  yes, definitely.  both in terms of get up and go and do all the little stuff of being basically energetic (contained in the 10 and 12 numbers which mostly don’t need adjustment, but, if you find you need to, you can, a little) AND in terms of “working out.”  but, can’t emphasize it enough:  you simply cannot make up with exercise for mistakes you’re likely to make with food.

here’s a perspective:  remember that 500 calories of nordic track and walking burn i got under ideal circumstances of having flexibility, equipment, etc?  well, that’s one big mac OR one large fries or less than one good-size serving of rich ice cream almost anywhere.  poof!  gone.  gone-zo!  hours of calorie burn. 5-10 minutes of eating.  500 calories.  that’s also 4 ounces of beer nuts at the bar.  and you aren’t eating just 4 ounces of nuts.  the munchies are running strong and we have the hamburger plate with fries and cole slaw.  oh, and the beers.

here’s another example … i just noticed in my frig a little 1 1/2 ounce packet of newman’s own (paul newman) greek salad dressing … 200 calories … it had come with a greek salad a while ago … i didn’t eat it with the greek salad because its 200 calories would have just about doubled the total calories of the greek salad … the veggie part, no decision … all good, all low cal … delicious … i left in the lovely feta cheese … that was a conscious decision to have a treat … cheese is a luxury if you have milk for your dairy/calcium every day … but i love feta cheese … i had calories to spare that day for a feta cheese low quantity savouring treat … i estimated the feta at about an ounce, 150 calories (cheese MUST be managed … not everybody realizes that … a lot of people think they should eat cheese and nuts because they’re healthy, but, wow, unless they’re had in small quantities, they blow the day’s calories REAL fast … ) … estimated the veggies at 100 max, maybe 75, close enuf, total tasty salad, maybe 250 … anyway, that little pouch is 200 calories … by the way, if a 150 pound woman runs 2 miles, that’s good … if she then adds this cute little packet of salad dressing to her salad, she loses THE ENTIRE CALORIE BENEFIT OF THE RUN … doesn’t make greek salad dressing (also feta, by the way) bad … i may yet have it for a treat on some day that my calories are coming in pretty low and i suddenly have a hankering for a small quantity of feta salad dressing for a savory savoured treat … yeah, man …

by the way, i also like big mac and large fries … from the earlier example … if i’m going to treat myself to them, or i’m in a hurry and have them, i reserve 1000 calories from my daily burn for them … no problem … that day, i cut the usual stream of small/treat/savour quantities of chocolate or rich ice cream or nuts or avocado or guacamole or hard candy or other fun stuff … have some of those the next day and every day … no food, even the calorically high/dense stuff, is bad … the numbers just have to work …

you can’t make up for eating mistakes with exercise.  even many “manual laborers” who use lots of muscles all day every day five or six days per with overtime stay fat and get fatter when they think their all their exercise can overcome their eating mistakes.

organize around a daily calorie balance based on food intake and basic daily calorie burn before “working out.”  then adjust from there for any “working out” extra calorie burn.

when you learn how to estimate “working out” exercise calories (there’s ONE number to know for walking … i’ll see if i can find it … i’m pretty sure it’s 100 per mile, for 150 # person, on level terrain … that we multiply or divide for difference from the 150 pounds it’s based on for our own bodyweight, and then multiply that calories per mile number times the number of miles walked … so 200 pound person uses 133 per mile … all the modern treadmills and nordic trak ski machines adjust now for bodyweight, distance, and tilt of walk/ski platform, but i don’t want my basic suggested plan to require special access to special equipment … get in the car and measure off a mile course … multiply the 150 pound number to get your own cal/mile and just keep it simple … ), don’t be surprised when walking (running too, but a lot of people shouldn’t run … walking, low impact, is for everybody) is the only “work out” that gives you many calories to work with.  don’t be surprised if all that sweaty hard-breathing exertion of weight lifting (good for strength and other things … i did it when younger … i think it’s really good) gives you very low calorie burn for offsetting food calories.

googled again and got, for walking, 85 calories instead of 100 for a 150 pound person … who knows? … just pick one … these are averaged numbers with a lot of assumptions anyway … i’d just use the 100 per mile for 150 pound … notice that the BIG PICTURE for weight control IS NOT the relatively few calories you can burn with exercise (before you become exhausted and sore … we can’t “work out” all day), but the relatively LARGE number of calories we burn each day just by being alive and going through the basic motions of our day … 1500 for a 150 pound woman … 2400 for a 200 pound man … those are the big numbers that are there EVERY DAY whether we get around to working out or not … so it’s these numbers that i call “the basic burn”, basic calorie burn, i’m tempted to call it “metabolic burn” but there such confusion and misconception over “metabolism” i’m cautious here, so “basic burn” … it’s the “basic burn” that’s the big part of the story … the basic burn vs. the calories of food taken in … nietzsche said something both obvious and profound … sometimes the profound is the obvious viewed from the right perspective … anyway, Nietzsche said, “some things are more important than others” … sure, listen to the marketers of enzymes, diet foods, diet plans, exercise machines, gym memberships, books, videos, and on and on … but evaluate their stories within the framework of the most important part of the story … the basic daily calorie burn vs. the daily intake of food calories …

learn about and manage the food first.  add some walking to get an extra 100 – 200 calories of burn plus the basic general energy feel-good effects of going from no exercise to any exercise.  enjoy the feeling that you finally have the right logical approach even if you’re still getting a feel for the calorie numbers of the various foods.  maybe add some other workout, not so much for calorie burn as for muscle tone and strength and appearance etc.  from there, maintain or lose bodyweight as you please.

so that’s the story.

have fun.

tom

 

Handy Calorie Quick Reference Chart (click image to make it larger)

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