Monday, November 7, 2011

12,112 words and 40 million calories

What is up with feeling ravenous while I'm writing?

As you know I've been going to Weight Watchers for a while and I've been doing pretty good, if I do say so myself – and, of course, I do. Last week I broke the 40 pound mark – down 41.5 pounds in total since the end of July. Which is awesome, I know. But I was starting to feel I had this diet thing licked. I knew what I was doing.

Unfortunately since I started National Novel Writing Month last week I've been so hungry I could eat the arse end out of a skunk. Maybe two skunks. Those two up there are looking pretty arse-a-licious.

I sit down to write every night and, about halfway through, I am craving carboyhydrates so bad I run out of the kitchen and find the most fattening thing we have on hand. Fortunately, that's only melba toast, but still. An entire package of melba toast is not On Plan.

I thought that maybe heavy duty thinking burns more calories but, alas, apparently that's not so. I did a quick Google search this morning and found an interesting article on the Scientific American website –Science of Snacks: Why Thinking Makes You Hungry.

It's a terrific article – funny, too. But here's the money quotes, for me:

A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine contends that intellectual work—that’s right, I’m calling writing this stuff, ya know, intellectual—induces a big increase in caloric intake. The research had 14 Canadian students do three things at different times: sit and relax; complete a series of memory and attention tests; and read and summarize a text. After 45 minutes at each task, the kids were treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch. Because Canada has a truly advanced code of human-subject research ethics.

Each session of intellectual work required the burning of only three more calories than relaxing did. But when the students hit the buffet table after the text summation, they took in an additional 203 calories. And after the memory and attention tests, the subjects consumed another 253 calories. Blood samples taken before, during and after the activities found that all that thinking causes big fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels. And because glucose fuels the neurons, a transitory low level in the brain may signal the stomach to get the hands to fill up the mouth, even though the energy actually spent has gone up just a hair. The researchers note that such “caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

Crap, eh? 

And here I thought I'd be all skinny when I went to my Weight Watchers meeting tonight, because my brain had burned all these calories. In all honesty, I'm not expecting any miracles on the scale tonight. This might even be the first week I've gained. I hope not, but those melba toast do punch a wallop when you're practically inhaling them.

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. So basically if you're smart you're doomed to be fat? I'm fat cause I spend too much time in front of the computer thinking? Well that's it...I'm not thinking any more. So there. Uh...I'm still hungry though.

  2. I'm so inspired by your weight loss - that is just phenomenal! Sorry about the whole brain calorie thing though - but hey - now I have a new excuse!

  3. I know, eh Jen? I'm thinking this is good to know, though. Maybe a few sweet things would be enough to adjust the glycemic levels - maybe even a hard candy, or a Tic Tac. (Oh, I'm living high on the hog, talking about Tic Tacs).
    Delores, I know a writer named GP Ching who does most of her writing standing up. She has a great figure - I'm thinking she's onto something.
    Thanks, Lauri! I am pretty thrilled but I have many miles to go. Many, many miles... best not to think about that too much...

  4. In case anybody was offended by this post, I took out a sentence that make fun of American students. I hadn't honestly noticed it before but, on rereading, I saw it and was mortified and immediately took it out.
    Apologies to all my smart American friends.

  5. Oh, it wasn't my sentence... it was the sentence from Scientific American.
    God, I wouldn't write anything like that, are you kidding?

  6. Cathy Olliffe-Webster. Politically correct since 2011.

  7. (I've had so few comments lately that I've taken to writing my own.)

  8. Thanks for dropping by, Cathy! Now get your ass busy with NaNo and stop screwing around with your comments.

  9. Just THINKING about my novel makes me hungry. AND I JUST HAD SUPPER.

  10. It's so LONELY here. I see tumbleweeds blowing down the river. And it's so empty, there's an echo in here... HELLO, hello, hello, hello....


  12. *lmao* Woke up this morning to this group of comments in my inbox. Well, crap, yet again! ;)


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