Let me back up. Much has been said over the past couple of weeks about what Olympians eat. Michael Phelps and his 12,000 calories a day has put so many people into shock that iHop is sending out emergency chocolate-chip pancake teams into all major cities. On the other end of the food spectrum, you have everyone and their Karolyi opining about what the tiny female gymnasts (don’t) eat. But my favorite money quote on the subject is from ABC’s What Olympians Eat:
Says, Elizabeth Applegate, Olympian nutrition consultant: “sex, not size, matters. Pound for pound, women burn fewer calories then men do, simply by the difference in their bodies. If a 140-pound female athlete and a 140-pound male athlete ran side by side, in sync, expending the same amount of energy, the female athlete would still burn 8 to 10 percent fewer calories.
“Isn’t that a jip?” Applegate concludes.
Besides the very unPC – and oddly misspelled – racial slur, I also object to Applegate’s conclusion. If she is correct, then women are simply more efficient human beings than men. We can do the same stuff but require less energy to get the job done. That’s not a rip off; that’s an evolutionary advantage!
Last weekend while my husband and I were camping with our kids, I let a derogatory comment about my thighs slip out. Generally I am pretty good about keeping the body-hate inside but these last couple of months have not been good in that regard and I said something about my arch nemesis – the fatty bits on the tops of my thighs that make it impossible to wear “skinny jeans” without making them look like sausage casings (something all good vegetarian women strive to avoid).
My husband immediately shot back, “Hey! I love that fat! Plus, it feeds our babies.”
Of course he is right. Not only does the aptly named saddlebag fat exist for the purpose of nurturing the sucklings but women who have adequate fat stored in their hips and thighs also have smarter babies.
Why is society so insistent on belittling our genetic advantages? In most eras of time, it has been a distinct advantage to a) be able to function well on less calories and b) store enough of the good fat to support a baby even if food is scarce. So why are we supposed to feel bad about needing less calories and carrying a little extra syrup for our milkshake?
I’m not trying to denigrate men here – certainly they have their biological advantages – and you know I live with four of them whom I love more than even the most thigh-flattering jeans in the world but can men do this with their menses? I rest my case. Women rule.