Athletic People have Inefficient Bodies
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Conventional wisdom tells us that athletic people have high metabolism while nonathletic people have low metabolism, right? After all, many of us can recount the times in which we ate the same amount of food and perform the same amount of activity as a friend throughout the day, yet you gain more weight than they have because they have a higher “metabolism” than you do. It then seems as if metabolism allows you to burn more calories. If this is the case, then this essentially means that nonathletic people have more efficient bodies, right?
Let’s say that there are two people: you and Joe. You and Joe eat the same amount of food during lunch and hence, you both gain 1500 calories. You and Joe then play basketball together later that day and perform the same amount of work while playing. However, by the end of the day, you gain 0.15 pounds (there are 3500 calories/pound of fat) while Joe gains 0.1 pounds. Typical wisdom would tell you that Joe has a higher metabolism. However, let us look at this situation more closely. Knowing that unburned calories turns into fat, I will safely assume the following simple formula: [Calorie Intake] - [Calories Burn] = [Calorie Turned into Fat], where a higher metabolism will yield a lower [Calorie Turned into Fat]. Now, let’s organize this problem:
- [Calorie Intake]: 1500
- [Calorie Turned into Fat]: 500
- [Calorie Burned]: 1000 (1500 - 500)
- [Calorie Intake]: 1500
- [Calorie Turned into Fat]: 350
- [Calorie Burned]: 1150 (1500 - 350)
Now, because a more efficient body burns less calories per calorie intake, I will define efficiency as [Calories Burned]/[Calorie Intake], where a lower number means more efficiency. Thus, we get
- Efficiency: 0.7 (more efficient)
- Efficiency: 0.8 (less efficient)
From this, we can see that your body is actually more efficient than Joe’s!
This idea can be seen intuitively. If you and another individual consume the same amount of food and perform the same amount of exercise, yet if you end up gaining more weight, then this means that you are burning less energy than the other person because you have more left over energy that is being stored into fat. Thus, you are burning less energy per given activity.
An analogy to this example is fuel efficiency in automobiles. Let us compare two automobiles: a car (e.g. you) and an SUV (e.g. someone with a higher “metabolism”). Let us assume that they both start off with the same amount of gas in the tank (similar to calorie intake from eating) and they both travel from one city to another (performing an activity like sports). By the end of the trip, the car will have more leftover gasoline in the tank (fat) than the SUV, due to a higher MPG. The amount of gas left over in the tank is analogous to the amount of fat that you have gained. It is clear to see that the car, not the SUV, is more efficient because it consumes less energy to perform the same activity.
Knowing that a higher metabolism leads to a more inefficient body, it would then mean that we would all prefer to have more inefficient bodies because it allows us to burn off more calories and gain less weight.
Posted in Nerd Logic