I can see the Google search terms that bring people to this site, & literally every week I get at least one person who comes here googling some variation of “If I get diarrhea right after I eat do I count the calories?”

[Sits quietly rubbing temples for several minutes.]



For the last time: I don’t fucking know because I’m not a scientist, but if you get diarrhea, don’t worry about counting calories.

I’m not saying anything about the calories. I’m saying don’t worry about it, because your anus is barfing & that’s enough to worry about right now.

Yes you’re trying to keep a record of precisely how many calories your digestive system absorbed before dinner rode the chocolate flume to Bowl Town, but you can’t. It’s impossible. It’s also pointless. It’s like getting your arm chopped off by a closing elevator door & saying, “Aw, my watch was on there.” You have bigger problems.

I don’t really think there’s a way to ever know for sure.  More precisely, no one fucking knows. But people keep attempting to crack this mystery. I’ve seen very long threads on the MyFitnessPal forums — a bottomless pit of headdesk, that site — where amateur gastroenterologists stroke their chins & trade theories. Count just half, I saw someone say once, like it’s a common rule of thumb. Or: How soon afterward was it? Hmm. Well then how many calories DOES the human gut absorb in 14 minutes, anybody know? What was the macronutrient composition of your meal? You see the veal cutlets being a dense protein would have been broken down more slowly than the Cinnabons you chased it with, though the steamed cabbage complicates the matter. Did you get a good look at the stuff before you flushed? How many ounces of salad would you estimate was intact?

Don’t sift through your feces & do math. As I wrote once before, getting the shits means you’re not feeling well. Take the afternoon off, buddy. Try again tomorrow. For now go sit hugging your knees to your chest, drink some herbal tea, & have a couple saltines. If you absolutely must log something, make something up. Or just write down whatever you ate & pretend you didn’t crap yourself.


It’s not a tumor

People always worry about the wrong stuff. I count calories, but I don’t pay much attention to it because right now things are OK. I mostly look at my total calories to make sure I’m eating generally enough, because that’s my problem some days, & I look at my protein numbers to make sure I’m taking in at least body-weight in grams.  I’m not laboring under any illusions that those numbers are dead-on-balls accurate. I weigh things & try to log correctly.  There’s no reason to do it if it’s totally wrong, but that doesn’t mean living as if every single calorie is accurately counted.  Shit happens. I’m fine with being closeish.

For as many articles I’ve read telling people the best way to keep tabs on their nutrition is to count calories, I’ve read an equal number telling people never to count calories. Because it makes people go crazy. Everyone’s different but personally I find it helpful & I think it’s possible to do without going crazy. Then I see stuff like this:


OK, here we go. The poster said she eats 1600-1800 calories a day (bad idea), weighs herself every day (worse idea), & jogs every day (even worse idea). She said she should be losing weight, but instead is up 7 pounds in a week. She asked people to look at her food log, so I did because I’m nosey & judgmental. About 90% of her daily food comes out of a box. Cereal bars, pre-packaged sandwiches, pre-packaged meals, & about 3 glasses of wine with dinner. Zero fruit, zero vegetables, no meat that didn’t come wrapped in plastic & cardboard. She ate almost no fats, even less protein, a fuckton of processed carbohydrates, & lots of sodium.

I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, but it’s not a tumor. That’s eating like crap. Also the scale might be wrong, either before or after the 7 pound jump. Bathroom scales aren’t dead-on-balls accurate.

When people suggested maybe she was underestimating how much garbage she ate & overestimating how much she exercised, she said that wasn’t possible — because she did all the math right: x number of calories in (she knew precisely what this figure is since it was written on the boxes), y number of calories expended. Therefore, it must be some kind of foreign growth invading her body because otherwise it’s just not mathematically possible.

you are wrongjpg Im right

I don’t have degrees in this stuff, but I’m almost positive that human bodies don’t work that way. All this measurement stuff is an estimate. A food log — all of it, every bite — is an estimate. How much you burn from exercise, what you weigh on a scale, how much energy is extracted from your food before you take a dump, how much energy you expend lying around breathing, all that is an estimate. No measurement we do at home is exact, ever, because we don’t live in laboratories. Jesus Christ. Worry about the right things, like not eating any goddamned vegetables. Have some kale for chrissake. Side benefit: It makes you shit right.

Goddammit. Just.

[Puffs out cheeks.]

Fucking hell already.


This week’s log

Sunday 11/30

  • Every minute on the minute for 12 minutes: 20 single-arm kettlebell swings @16kg

Notes: This is usually a conditioning day for me, but I ran out of time for a full hour in the gym. This was a quick & easy way to get 250 kb swings in while I made dinner (it came out to 240 but I did another 10 because it was easy).


Tuesday 12/2

  • Deadlift: 5 x 155, 5 x 185, 5 x 205, 3 x 225, 3 x 260, 3+ x 290 (easy 8), AMRAP @ 225 (very easy 10)
  • Press: 10 x 45, 5 x 55, 5 x 65, 3 x 72, 3 x 82, 3+ x 92 (easy 6)
    Boring But Big, 5 x 5 @ 82

Notes: I could have easily deadlifted more than 8 reps @ 290, but I started to get dizzy. And I have been capping the AMRAP sets at 10.


Wednesday 12/3

8 x 3, supersets:

  • Push press @ 125#
  • Dumbbell row @ 70#


Descending/ascending ladder, 10-1, 9-2, 8-3 … 1-10:

  1. Front-rack lunges @ 95#
  2. Plyometric push-ups onto 45-pound bumpers

Notes: I only did plyo push-ups for the first half. Then I noticed my left thumb had gone numb. That seemed like it wasn’t good. Dropped to regular push-ups after that. I got feeling back in my hand afterward.  It’s fine.


Saturday 12/6

  • Squat: 5 x 95, 5 x 135, 5 x 155, 3 x 195, 3 x 222, 3+ x 250 (easy 6), AMRAP @ 195 (capped at an easy 10)
  • Bench: 10 x 45, 10 x 65, 5 x 95, 3 x 115, 3 x 132, 3+ x 150 (moderate 5)
    Boring But Big, 5 x 5 @ 132

Notes: I noticed today I’m quickly wearing through my backup jump rope. I already broke one rope this year, now my backup rope is fraying in the center too. All kinds of sharp steel wires poking through, snagging my clothes, catching onto my shoelaces. I jump rope a lot as a warmup, so this is a problem.


Interesting links