Beer, Pizza, and Weight Gain

So how’s that New Year’s solution going? Nope, that is not a type-o. It’s better to call them solutions, as in to solve something, than to call them re-solutions, as in to try to solve something over and over again, like weight loss. To me, re-solution sounds too much like you are redoing or retrying something. So how’s that New Year’s solution to lose weight and get in shape going? Not so good? Never fear, Hector is here. It is time to trouble shoot.

First, let’s talk about alcohol. How much did you drink during the holidays last year? No, not just the Christmas holidays. I am talking about all the holidays, as in Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend, Thanksgiving Day weekend, and whatever else you might celebrate weekend. You drank mucho? That’s ok because this is not an exercise in finger-pointing. I’m just trying to help.

Did you also regularly drink on weekends that weren’t about celebrating anything in particular, other than you survived another week of work? Did you go to a few happy hours too? Did you drink on Sundays during football season? Did you drink because it was hot outside, and you were poolside with some friends and the kids? Did you drink because you were happy? Did you drink because you were sad? Did you drink because you were tired? Did you drink because you deserved a drink? Did you drink because you needed to relax? Did you drink because it was a Friday night? And then drank because it was a Saturday night? And then drank because it was Sunday night?

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So what’s my point of all this alcohol talk? It is simple. Calories from alcohol add up. And if you were a regular drinker last year, and this year you are trying to lose weight, I would advise you to cut back on the alcohol, big time. You might save some money too!!

Time for some math. Let’s say you drink an average of twice per week, and you have two drinks each time you drink. I will be kind and say that each drink only has 100 calories. That’s 400 calories per week, and that is a whopping 20,800 calories per year of empty calories. I know, I know, wine is good for you, but we’re talking weight loss here, and not tannins and resveratrol.

If you drink three times per week, you are drinking 42% of the year. That’s creeping up on almost half the year. And if you are drinking four nights per week, you are drinking 57% of the year. Good luck losing weight drinking four times per week or more. It’s tough. You might attain six-pack abs though.

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One of the most effective changes a regular alcohol drinker can make to lose weight is to cut back on drinking. How much should you cut back? Well that depends on how much, and how often you drink? But I do know this, the less active you are, the less you can afford to consume liquid calories from beer, wine, tequila, rum, scotch, or whatever your preference. Combining inactivity and regular alcohol consumption will wreck the best of weight loss plans.

Now let’s talk children. According to yesterday’s news, pizza contributes to children’s weight gain.

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Really!! We needed a seven-year study, 2003-2010, of the dietary habits of children to figure out that pizza contributes to weight gain/obesity? Let me guess, fries, hamburgers, sodas, ice cream, and funnel cakes will make you gain weight too? Please feel free to look up the pizza study I am talking about. Just Google “pizza and childhood obesity” and it should come up.

Pizza is not bad once in a while, any nutritionist or pediatrician will tell you that. The problem is that when pizza is consumed often, and several slices at a time, the calories add up very quick. I am not here to tell you or your children what to eat, just asking you to be aware that pizza packs a punch when it comes to calories.

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So that means that just 3 slices of regular crust pizza is almost 1,000 calories. You would have to walk about 8 miles to burn that off. And as of now, I know no one who walks 8 miles in one walking session.

On a side note, I like to read the comments at the bottom of  weight loss articles, like the pizza one yesterday, to get an idea of what people think. Man, I tell you what, keyboard personal trainers, pediatricians, and nutritionists are everywhere. “When I was a kid, we walked everywhere. We played outside from sun up to sundown. We never wanted to be inside.” read one comment. Then there were those that were a bit nastier like “Kids nowadays are so fat because they don’t move and just play video games all day.” Then there’s the perfect parent who says “It’s not the kids, it’s the parents.” These comments can get ugly. Technology is great, but it has also allowed folks to talk tish from the safety of their homes or a coffee shop. That’s not cool. (Excuse the venting. Maybe it’s better to invent than vent.)

Ok, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was talking about kids and weight gain. Allow me to try to simplify a complex subject. Here it goes. Children are becoming overweight because they consume more calories than they burn. That is a fact. It does not matter if these calories come from sushi, red meat, chicken fingers, hamburgers, fries, pastries, ice cream, cereal, cookies, or pasta. If a child consumes more calories than his or her growing body, and its physical demands need, he or she will gain weight.

Here are some things I have noticed:

The thin kids that I know, whether they be adolescents or teenagers, are physically active. I don’t know what they eat day in and day out, but I know they are active.

Most overweight children that I have met or know personally, are not very physically active.

Almost all, if not all, children love pizza, ice cream, fries, cookies, soda, etc.

Not all kids enjoy physical activities. And that is ok.

To help children grow as healthy as possible, movement must be encouraged, and the amount of calories children consume should honor the amount of movement they partake in. And yes, a child who prefers video games, reading, and being on the computer over exercise, has less caloric demands than a child who swims or plays football five days per week. This is a fact.

This caloric formula, law, or whatever you want to call it, even applies to animals. My Rottweiler, Rocco, eats 6 cups of food a day, and he’s only 6 months old and already about 65 pounds. My Jack Russel Terrier, Buddy, on the other hand, eats about 3/4 cup of food a day. Buddy weighs 17 pounds and is about 6 or 7 years old. He’s a rescue, so we don’t know his true age. If I increased Buddy’s food amount, and didn’t increase his activity levels, he would gain weight. If I cut back on my Rottweiler puppy’s food, he would lose weight and probably not grow to his full genetic potential.

Food for animals or humans is energy. If you consume too much food for your physical demands, you will gain weight in the form of eff-ay-tee. Remember, fat on the body is just stored energy waiting to be used. The human body is so efficient with its calories that it will not poop or pee away any excess. You give it excess calories, and it will store them for later use as eff-ay-tee. Your body does not know that you will eat again, again, and again. Food abundance, where it currently exists, is a relatively new phenomenon for humans.

There is really no one factor to blame for our societies weight gain problem.

And here’s another challenge. For anyone to lose weight, calorie consumption must be reduced, and the feeling of hunger must be learned, and that feeling of hunger must be endured for short periods at a time. Sorry. If a person satisfies their hunger signal every time it appears, chances are, they will gain weight. Sorry again. Weight loss is more about calorie reduction than it is about carrots and lettuce on your plate. I hope this makes sense.

If you want something to place blame on for how easily humans gain weight, blame the ridiculously complex machine known as the human body. It runs on very little fuel, and it always wants fuel/food, no matter how active or inactive it is. It does not care what the fuel is, it just wants it. Blame evolution.

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Children can have pizza, adults can have adult drinks, but these calorie sources are best consumed in moderation. Even consuming too much water can kill you, and water has zero calories. Now that’s muy loco!!!