Friday, May 9, 2008


There is only one thing that makes people fat, and that is excess calories. It takes a deficit or surplus of 3,500 calories to lose or gain one single pound of body fat. That deficit or surplus is decided by three factors. The first is your resting metabolic rate (RMR); everyone burns a certain number of calories just living and breathing. The two remaining factors are calories taken in from the food and beverages you consume and calories burned through physical activity. What is left is a caloric surplus (weight gain) or deficit (weight loss). Many people gain weight because they consume calories that go unrecognized or because they don't consider how small amounts of calories can add up.

Here are the top five things that can make you fat:

1-Coffee-You may be thinking, "How can coffee make me fat?" After all, it's only water and caffeine, which has no calories. Enter what I call "the Starbucks effect.' Today, many people have become addicted to flavored, oversized coffee drinks and their high-caloric content. If you think your Starbucks coffee run is harmless, consider that a Venti Mocha Frappucino® has 346 calories, a Venti Caramel Macchiato® with whole milk has 312 calories, and even a grande latte with non-fat milk packs over 200 calories. Every squirt of caramel, mocha, or other flavorings will cost you approximately 75 calories; every sugar packet, another 25 calories. Those who find themselves making two daily runs to Starbucks (or any other coffee house) may be taking in over 500 calories a day on coffee drinks. Based on a five-day workweek, that's 2,500 calories a week or 10,000 calories a month. Over the course of a year, there are enough calories in your coffee indulgences to pack on over 34 pounds.

2-Alcohol-So you work hard, and your day is full of stress and pressure. When it's over, all you want to do is to sit down, relax, and have a drink or two to "take the edge off." Sound familiar? Millions of people rely on that glass of wine, a gin and tonic, or a martini to feel better at the end of the day. The average drink has approximately 150 calories, and if you happen to be partial to mixed or exotic drinks-like daiquiris, mojitos, cosmopolitans or other tasty libations-the calorie count is substantially higher. Two average drinks can cost you 300 calories a day or 2,100 calories a week. So drinking regularly can yield over 2 pounds per month and 24 pounds per year.

3-Low-Fat, Fat-Free, Low-Calorie, and Sugar-Free Foods-If you've tracked the increase of overweight and obese people in the United States, you might have noticed that it mirrors the proliferation of foods marketed to make us thin. For years we have been tricked into thinking that we can eat more and weigh less, but it doesn't work that way. If you want to weigh less, you have to eat less and move more. Read labels for calories per portion, and watch the size of your portions. Any time you eat directly out of a box or bag, you are setting yourself up for potential weight-gain. Try taking a portion or two out of the box or bag and putting it in a bowl.

4-Diets-Each year over 70 million people go on a diet to lose weight, but 95 percent of them will gain all the weight back. Most will gain even more weight than were trying to lose when they started the diet. There are three specific reasons that this happens. First, when you dramatically reduce your caloric intake, your body responds by protecting its fat stores by slowing down your resting metabolism. A lower metabolic rate means you will burn fewer calories at rest. Second, many diets reduce carbohydrates, which are the primary energy source needed for physical activity. This tends to make you fatigued and less likely to increase your activity. Third, many diets force your body to convert protein from your muscle tissue for energy. Lean muscle tissue is your body's fat-burning machinery and allows you to burn more calories at rest. When you lose weight, you want it to be from fat, not from lean muscle tissue.

5-Lack of Physical Activity-The number one reason people give for not exercising is time. We can't find time to exercise, yet the average person watches television for 4½ hours every day. It has been proven that small amounts of physical activity can have a big impact on your weight and your health. There are very inexpensive "low-sweat" solutions for increasing your physical activity that you can perform in as few as 10 to 15 minutes a day-while watching television. Little moves can create big results.

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