Dieting is one of those things that is completely integrated into American culture. On any given day, a huge portion of the U.S. population is "on a diet" and "counting calories" in one way or another. And look at how many of the diet names in the following list you recognize: The Atkins Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, The Hollywood Miracle Diet, The Rice Diet, The South Beach Diet...
You probably recognize many of these names because you hear them all the time!
In this article, we will look first at weight gain and why gaining weight is so easy. Then we will look at what you can do about weight gain -- in the form of diet and exercise -- to maintain a consistent weight.
Your Body's Efficiency
Have you ever wondered why, for so many people (and especially for anyone older than 30 years old), weight gain seems to be a fact of life? It's because the human body is way too efficient! It just does not take that much energy to maintain the human body at rest; and when exercising, the human body is amazingly frugal when it comes to turning food into motion.
At rest (for example, while sitting and watching television), the human body burns only about 12 calories per pound of body weight per day (26 calories per kilogram). That means that if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg), your body uses only about:
150 X 12 = 1,800 calories per day
Twelve calories per pound per day is a rough estimate.
Those 1,800 calories are used to do everything you need to stay alive:
• They keep your heart beating and lungs breathing.
• They keep your internal organs operating properly.
• They keep your brain running.
• They keep your body warm.
In motion, the human body also uses energy very efficiently. For example, a person running a marathon (26 miles or 42 km) burns only about 2,600 calories. In other words, you burn only about 100 calories per mile (about 62 calories per km) when you are running.
You can see just how efficient the human body is if you compare your body to a car. A typical car in the United States gets between 15 and 30 miles per gallon of gasoline (6 to 12 km/L). A gallon of gas contains about 31,000 calories. That means that if a human being could drink gasoline instead of eating hamburgers to take in calories, a human being could run 26 miles on about one-twelfth of a gallon of gas (0.3 L). In other words, a human being gets more than 300 miles per gallon (120 km/L)! If you put a human being on a bicycle to increase the efficiency, a human being can get well over 1,000 miles per gallon (more than 500 km/L)!
That level of efficiency is the main reason why it is so easy to gain weight, as we will see in the next section.
by Marshall Brain
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