Oct 082009

Image courtesy of db*photography

Image courtesy of db*photography

I’d like to lose the 20lbs that stand between me and a size 12, or  even the 50lbs that stand between me and a size “Wow!”.  I know that to do so I need to make calories in less than calories out. But how many calories should I shoot for in general?

I’ve used a number of calculators, with so vastly different results.

Here’s two examples:

The American Cancer Society says I need 2318.

The Mayo Clinic says I need 1550.

What gives? Where can I get a reliable number?


Ok.  Wow.  You guys have really decided to stop throwing softballs at us when it comes to these questions, haven’t you?  Next time why not ask us how to perform open heart surgery or something?  Sheesh.

Seriously, though – The reason this is a difficult question is because the first (and most honest) response is “it depends.”  It depends on a lot of things.  It depends on how old you are, how tall you are, how much you weigh currently, how active you are, what your sex is, and what type of calories you’re putting in to your body (a 1200 calorie a day diet consisting of nothing but Snickers bars isn’t very likely to warrant positive results).  With all of those factors in place it is no wonder that you’re having a hard time finding a solid answer to your question.

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Sep 302009

Image courtesy of stu_spivack

Image courtesy of stu_spivack

While there are some great resources out there for this question  (Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone, Weight Watchers, Daily Burn, etc) , none of them have a clear answer on one of my favorites: Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup).  While I am elevating ShrinkGeek to the level of the oracle on Delphi, do any of you guys know? Or – how about just a Boolean: Is it healthy, or not? BTW: I’m talking about restaurant Pho, not the crap in the ramen noodle aisle.

I tried to take the easy way out of this question and defer the answer to Jaden Hair, Tampa Bay area food celebrity and author of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.  I follow her on Twitter and am constantly assaulted by posts about the amazing Asian recipes she talks about so I figured if anyone would know it was her.  Sure enough, she has a recipe for Pho on her site that sounds absolutely amazing.  Unfortunately for me when I asked her if she had ever figured out the nutrition information for the recipe she replied that she had not, and that we should all follow the advice of her Mother who so wisely said “Just eat!  It good for you!”

Which, I suppose, answers the second part of the question.  So much for this being an easy assignment.

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Sep 282009

vitaminsA reader asks:

What’s better — taking my vitamins first thing in the morning, or just before bed?

Your garden-variety multivitamin can be taken pretty much any time you’re going to remember to do so.  If this is when you get out of the shower before work, when you’re brushing your teeth after dinner, or during the first bio break of your nightly raid, it doesn’t matter too much. Humans are creatures of habit, so once you get used to taking your vitamins, you’ll pretty much go on auto-pilot.

If you’re already taking any daily medications, that’s pretty much the perfect time to add one more to your regimen. Hey, we’re not going to ignore the simple, obvious answers around here just because they’re simple and obvious. You want to know the easiest way to do something? Ask the slacker to do it, and they’ll find the easiest way possible.

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Sep 172009

Image by marcobellucci

Any opinions on Alli? I just grabbed a bottle to try — doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. My diet is pretty good, so I don’t have any of the “treatment effects”. (That’s what the bottle calls side effects. If you eat too much fat, you will. . . pass it quickly.)

Having not previously encountered Alli, I did a bit of digging. It’s the non-prescription strength version of a weight-loss medication Xenical. I have to give props to the Xenical folks, who are very up-front about the fact that healthy eating (getting less than 30% of your daily calories from fat) is extremely important, as well as that their drug is intended for folks who are clinically obese, not simply trying to shed an annoying five or ten pounds (like Yours Truly).

No less an institution than The Mayo Clinic has also fielded questions on this drug, and they’ve got a lot of really smart people who can explain what the deal is.

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Sep 012009
This? This would change my opinion of using a treadmill.

This? This would change my opinion of using a treadmill.

One of our readers is frequently on the road, flying hither, thither, and yon for on-site stuff for his job, and pinged us with the following request:

Tired Traveler Tires of Treadmills: I need good, preferably strength-oriented workouts [to do] while traveling. Something 30-60 minutes, but whole body, not just hopping on a treadmill or jogging around the hotel. And, obviously, [I might only have access to] zero equipment.

We’re of two minds here at ShrinkGeek Orbital HQ when it comes to walking as part of a complete fitness routine; your own preferences will dictate whether or not you want to include it as part of your regimen. Since this reader specifically wants other stuff, we’ll go in that direction this time around.

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