Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

The Atlantic

“A new study says taking a hot bath burns as many calories as a 30-minute walk.”

That popped up in a tweet from Time on Tuesday night. It referred to a small investigation into the physiologic effects of heat exposure.

The responses on social media were an inevitable, exultant mix of self-identification and self-deprecation. Things like, This is so meeeeee, and Guess I’m right for not going to the gym, suckers, and Fill ’er up (the tub) I’m taking a bath forever and going to eat the whole time.

And, of course, This is a distraction from the Russia scandal.

We are all constantly projecting meaning onto the world to suit the templates we’ve committed to, so I saw the study’s finding as an indictment of calories. My own reply was that the study serves to prove that calories are “an almost useless and often misleading metric.”

My tweet was popular and beloved by almost everyone. I considered retiring on the royalties. But some took issue. One began with a timeless rhetorical device: “B.S. Eat more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Eat less [sic] calories = weight loss. That’s the truth.”

Others had more specific questions: “What do you mean, ‘useless’?! I just learned that I should take more hot baths!”

And even more specific: “How hot does this bath have to be?”

But what stuck with me were these: “Any suggestions as to what I should be paying attention to? … Every damn thing I read says something different.” And “Dummy here. Say more! I’d read.”

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