Monday, July 15, 2013
Weight Watchers gives you daily points, weekly points, and activity points to spend. The idea is that if you work out, you get to spend part of those calories burned in additional food as an incentive. Other plans like CalorieCount.com do the equivalent and I read on another blog that SparkPeople also has a new option for "spending" some of the logged activity.
The theory is fine, and I gratefully embraced the concept when I was counting points. But for me at least, I don't think it's ultimately a good idea. I think it's best to be conservative, like when the weather or your social calendar won't cooperate with your activity plan. So I like SparkPeople's current approach, simple ranges for calories, fat, and protein regardless of exercise.
Let me break Activity down further into three types: what you were doing, what you are now doing, and the unscheduled extra. What you were doing is by definition unchanged, and can be used to estimate your daily targets, like when you indicate whether you have a sedentary or active lifestyle.
New, regular activity is part of your new lifestyle. If you genuinely can say that your lifestyle has moved up a notch, say from sedentary to moderately active, you can update your calorie target accordingly. But otherwise, I'd say treat it as unscheduled, a bonus that shows up on the scale or your muscular definition or both. Just don't plan on it as far as eating goes. If you're like me where extended activity seems to lower appetite, so much the better.
So again, unscheduled activity, meaning having no significant recurrence, is great, will be rewarded, but otherwise should have no role in setting consumption targets. An example might be a 5k run you get talked into or an extensive amount of annual yard cleanup. Pat yourself on the back, but stay on your original eating targets.