Why I don’t need to ‘walk off’ what I eat


At this time of the year, lots of stuff  is being published which calculates the amount of exercise needed to balance a portion of some food or drink.

The suggestion is that if we knew how much exercise was needed to ‘burn off’ what we might want to eat then this could put us off eating it, which would be ‘good’

But there’s something big that’s not being said here. It’s so big it’s not even being seen, it’s hiding in full daylight…..

The fact is that most of us can eat whatever we like without needing to exercise it off,  if, a big IF …its within our usual daily consumption.

Myself, I eat about 2000 calories a day which is about what I use in walking sitting thinking etc plus my basic calories needed to keep breathing.

We all have a basal metabolism which Wikipaedia defines as

“ the amount of energy per unit time that a person needs to keep the body functioning at rest. Some of those processes are breathing, blood circulation, controlling body temperature, cell growth, brain and nerve function, and contraction of muscles.“

I need ( I think) about 1200 calories just to live and breathe without doing anything.
The other calories I use in activity.

I’m quoting here from the British nutrition foundation – nutrition.org.uk – “Key points”

“..Energy is needed by the body to stay alive, grow, keep warm and move around.
Energy is provided by food and drink. It comes from the fat, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol the diet contains.

“Energy requirements vary from one individual to the next, depending on factors such as age, sex, body composition and physical activity level.

“Energy expenditure is the sum of the basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy expended while at complete rest), the thermic effect of food (TEF, the energy required to digest and absorb food) and the energy expended in physical activity.

“To maintain body weight, it is necessary to balance the energy derived from food with that expended in physical activity. To lose weight, energy expenditure must exceed intake, and to gain weight, energy intake must exceed expenditure. “

This is a brilliant succinct summary of what food, calories and body weight are all about.

So.. when the exercise needed, is balanced against a particular food this is on the assumption that what I’m eating is always going to be extra to my usual daily consumption.

Here for example is a sample Christmas breakfast from this morning’s Daily Mail –

It contains about  530 calories said to take approximately 105 minutes walking.

Like everything else I’ve read recently it misses off the essential information that I’d only need to go on a very long walk if it was extra to my usual breakfast.

In fact it’s less.