18 votes

The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving

3 comments

  1. [2]
    vili
    Link
    I'm by no means very knowledgeable about this subject, but I'm not sure what to think of this article. Their two sources seem to be Polar, a manufacturer of heart rate monitors (the article says...
    • Exemplary

    I'm by no means very knowledgeable about this subject, but I'm not sure what to think of this article. Their two sources seem to be Polar, a manufacturer of heart rate monitors (the article says they are US based, but I think they are actually a Finnish company), and the Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky, whose name I have seen before whenever this topic and the 6000-7000 calorie claim pop ups.

    Now, studies seem to quite conclusively suggest that thinking alone doesn't burn more calories. But that's not what the article claims anyway, rather suggesting that the increased calorie burn comes from the heart and lungs working harder due to adrenaline and stress.

    I have no reason to think that a Stanford Professor would be making things up. However, whenever I try to find the original source for that "6000-7000 calories burnt" claim, all I can come up with is this video where he of course doesn't give the source, it being a talk. The talk as a whole is also pretty funny and light hearted, so I'm not sure how literally that 6000-7000 figure should be understood. He also discusses chess's physiological effects in his 1994 book "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers", where he uses data from a 1975 Temple University study, so maybe that's the source.

    Meanwhile, it seems even more difficult to find the original source for Polar's claim. However, it is perhaps advisable to keep in mind that while fitness trackers are good at measuring heart rates, they aren't all that accurate when it comes to converting heart rate into calorie burn figures, with some devices off by over 90%, and none typically within 20% of the actual calorie burn figure. Now, if Polar's devices and mathematical algorithms have been designed with physical exercise in mind, there is the very real possibility of accuracy being even worse in other types of measuring situations, such as with a person sitting still with an elevated heart rate, as in chess. Again, I don't know how the test was set up, but Polar's objective is of course to market their brand, not to advance science.

    Also, if I understand this study from 2008, which studied this very subject, it looks like what they saw with chess players was energy expenditures comparable to very light physical activity (less than walking?), certainly nothing in the 6000-7000 range.

    8 votes
    1. Enoch
      Link Parent
      Got to agree with you there. I was under the impression it's due to the tensing up as well. I mean you can lose weight by taking cold baths cause your whole system tenses up like mad. Our athletes...

      Got to agree with you there. I was under the impression it's due to the tensing up as well. I mean you can lose weight by taking cold baths cause your whole system tenses up like mad. Our athletes do this to quickly slip into a nearby weight class, so your heart/lungs/adrenaline idea, and I'd say most muscles in the limbs having a workout while you're stationary sounds about right.

      1 vote
  2. Menio_Mercina
    Link
    Jeez, what a read, I would never have suspected that. I thought maybe they might be so deep in concentration that they forget to eat and hence lose some weight that way but losing so much from...

    Jeez, what a read, I would never have suspected that.

    "560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess" and "up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament"

    I thought maybe they might be so deep in concentration that they forget to eat and hence lose some weight that way but losing so much from just the concentration and mental stamina required, wow! Anyone else experienced anything (probably to a lesser degree) similar simply from focusing on some intense or stressful activity?

    9 votes