Friday, February 06, 2004

The First Month

As you may recall, on January 12 I started the Hacker's Diet. As I sit here eating a cream filled donut, I have concluded that dieting is really not that hard. With some careful consideration, it is possible to eat whatever you want. The trick is to monitor and plan calorie consumption. In other words, as long as you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. It is funny how simple that concept is, but it took so long for me to really "get it."

As you can see from the following chart, I am doing well so far.

My initial goal was to lose about a pound a week. Using a chart to estimate my caloric needs at about 2000, I divided the amount of calories in a pound of fat (3500) by seven and subtracted to arrive at my diet goal of 1500 calories a day. By examining the chart, it is apparent that my initial estimate of 2000 was very low. In fact, the analysis of my most recent data indicates that I am averaging a deficit of 2045 calories per day; on average, my body consumes 3545 calories per day. Amazingly, I am able to get by on the 1500 without really any hunger pangs. Thus, my plan is to continue at 1500 and lose the weight faster. My weight as of today is 214, 17 lbs less than when I started.

Diet tip of the day: frozen entrees make it VERY easy to count and distribute calories throughout the day. Diet pop is also very good, since it tastes like something, fills the belly, but has zero calories.

The only thing hard about this diet is going out to eat: it takes very careful forethought and planning for me to be able to eat out and still be within my caloric limit. For example, at Chilis, the Chicken Ranch Sandwich is about 846 and the fries that come with it are abour 440, for a total of about 1300. That leaves only 200 calories for the rest of the day (to get counts from Chilis, you actually need to call their hotline number (1-800-983-4637) as they don't provide any info on their website.)

Most restaraunts are very reluctant to provide the caloric values, which makes it even more difficult to eat out. There is one place that I have found that goes above and beyond when it comes to providing data, and that is Wendys. Wendys has a pdf file that contains all the nutritional info for their food which you can download, and they have a meal planner program on the website that lets you assemble a meal and get the nutritional breakdown, including the toppings for sandwiches and ketchup for fries. Heck, you can even see the difference between having crackers with your chili or not. I am very impressed with Wendys. Granted, you still can't eat a ton of stuff ( I limit myself to meal 1, the Classic Single with Biggie fries and then need to be careful the rest of the day) but at least you have the knowledge to make informed choices.

Regarding the reluctance of restaraunts to provide nutritional info, there is currently a bill in the House of Representatives regarding this. The Menu Education and Labeling Act (H.Are. 3444), or MEAL, would, if passed, force restaraunts to provide at least basic info (calories, salt, etc) on their menus for EVERY item. I would encourage you to contact your Representatives and ask them to vote in favor of this bill. As there are 14 cosponsors, it seems likely it will pass, but it is always good to make your voice heard.

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