A chapter from my book ‘My Big Fat Fat’ (2018)
A humorous and touching account for those losing or coping with excess weight. With her laugh-out-loud humor, Samantha Dee covers all subjects from beauticians to socks in this easy to read A to Z guide on weight loss, maintenance, and ways to nourish your self-esteem.
C is for… Calories
The rate at which an individual burns calories at rest is known as their Base Metabolic Rate (BMR*).
We get calories from food. Calories not used up are stored in a particular type of cell: A fat cell. The scientific name for a fat cell is an ‘adipocyte’.
1lb (0.45kg) of fat = 3500 calories. (One billion fat cells).
An average human adult has 30 billion fat-cells with a weight of 30 lbs.
Control of calorie intake (or lack of) is how the human body gets fat, or thin. Not understanding this, does not mean that it doesn’t apply;
If you are ten pounds (4.5kg) overweight, it means that you have consumed, and are carrying 35,000 excess calories (or ten billion fat-cells).
If you are one hundred pounds (45.35kg) overweight, it means that you have consumed, and are carrying 350,000 excess calories. I don’t know how many fat-cells; my calculator doesn’t display that many zeros.
Every individual human being has a base calorie requirement. That is to say…to be a living, functioning human being requires a certain daily calorie intake. If I was to lie on a bed for an entire day and not move, I would still burn calories. So, let’s say, I need two-thousand calories just to be alive, to be here writing this book. This is my ‘ZERO’, ladies (and gents). It is known as ‘Basal (‘Base’) Metabolic Rate’ or BMR*.
At my heaviest, I was carrying an extra hundred pounds. That means that I had stored up enough calories to survive for 175 days without food. Almost six months. (Assuming a BMR of 2000 calories). Of course, I would die much sooner from dehydration.
In order to lose this, I would have to consume less than my BMR for my body to go looking for fat cells (which are everywhere, probably even on my eyelids) – and use those.
On a typical day, you’d start with your BMR as a minus, this is what you basically need to get through a day. Let’s call this your bank. And you start overdrawn. In the context of losing weight, overdrawn is a good thing.
To stay the same weight, you’d basically eat up to ‘zero’. To lose weight, your BMR bank is going to have to stay overdrawn in terms of what you eat. As a result, your body looks to your fat to find the calories you need.
Let’s assume my BMR is 2000:
To lose 1lb (0.45kg) a week:
Start: -2000 calories (bank overdrawn) -2,000
+1500 calories (put calories in, eat) +1,500
+500 calories (burned from fat) +500 = 0
(and repeat another 6 days, burning one billion fat-cells)
In short, there are two important things to do when aiming to lose weight. Calculate your own personal BMR, and eat less than that.
* See also: Base Metabolic Rate (‘BMR’)