Are B.L.T.s Growing your Waistline? (No, We Don’t Mean the Sandwich)

It was the summer of 2009. I was sitting in the living room of my girlfriend’s place and she jumps up. “Hey! I’m hungry. Do you want a B.L.T.?” I took her up on the offer and it was a great decision. The bread was toasted perfectly so it gave some crunch, but not overly dried out where it attacks the roof of your mouth. The tomatoes, cut thick were so ripe and juicy sweet. The lettuce was chilled and gave a crisp and rush of freshness. And of course the star of the show; the bacon. Smoky and peppery, cut thick, and cooked so that it wasn’t chewy, yet not so cooked that it becomes a brittle trap of snapping meat bits. I don’t know how Heather did it, but that was the best sandwich of my life (and trust me, there have been a lot of sandwiches to choose from).

Despite my apparent obsession with a B.L.T. sandwich, I’m not afraid that those B.L.T.s are trying to grow your waistline. When I talk about BLTs, I’m referring to “Bites, Licks, and Tastes.”

MMMMM…. I’d Bite, Lick, and Taste that….

BLTs are the other side of the coin to NEAT. As you’ll recall from our other article, NEAT refers to the calories you’re burning when you’re not burning calories. BLTs are going to be the calories you eat or drink when you’re not eating or drinking. Just like how NEAT could give you a 50% boost to your daily calories burned, BLTs can add an incredible amount of calories to your diet with you thinking about it.

If we look at some common snacks people grab without planning on it, we can see why BLTs quickly ruin diet plans and grow waistlines. Two (2) Oreo™ cookies contain 160 calories. To put that in perspective, an average heighted woman will usually diet at 1600 calories. That makes those two Oreos 10% of her ideal daily calorie goal. Now, if we speak honestly, a snack is probably larger than just two Oreo cookies. I know I tend to grab four to six at a time (480 calories or about 25% of recommended daily calories). You can quickly add an extra 10-25% to your total daily calories almost accidentally.

Two (2) Oreo™ cookies can instantly boost daily calories by 10%

What about other common snacks?

  • One small candy bar is about 230 calories (about 15% diet goals)
  • One cookie from a grocery store cookie pack is about 130-150 calories (10% diet goals)
  • A small 8oz soda is 100 calories, but a full 16oz bottle is 201 calories (13% diet goals).
  • One bottle of beer is 120-250 calories and a pint at the restaurant or bar is 33% more (14-20% diet goals)
  • A single slice of pizza has 150-300 calories on average (10-20% diet goals).
  • A small glass of wine (5 oz) is 120 calories (14% diet goals)

What does this all look like in an actual day? Let’s run through a hypothetical situation. You get in to work and there’s an early morning meeting. They pass around a cookie tray hoping people will grumble less about being in a meeting. Because you’re mindful and you’re working on your fitness goals, you only take one instead of two to three. One isn’t that bad, right? (Plus 150 calories.) For lunch, you eat the food you meal prepped and planned. Again, you’re being deliberate about what you choose to eat because you have goals. Good job, you! Your coworker comes back from eating out and has an extra slice of cheese pizza and offers it to you. Well, it’s just a small slice of plain cheese, so at least you’re not getting the fat heavy toppings and lunch didn’t fully fill you up. You thank your coworker and have a small slice (plus 150 calories). Work’s over, and now you’re on your way home. On your way, you have to swing by the grocery store to pick up a few items you’ve run out of. The line at the cash register is moving super slow because of the new trainee. You just want to get home after work because you’re tired and your feet are getting sore. Your favorite candy bar is staring at you. Gosh, you love that candy bar. You haven’t even had it in AGES! Why won’t this damn line move faster!? You know what, you’re going to grab that candy bar, but just the small one (plus 230 calories) instead of the king size. Remember, you’re trying to watch your weight. These small snacks, in addition to your regular healthy eating habits, added 530 extra calories to your day. That’s 23-33% extra. Over the course of a whole year, BLTs and snacks can add an extra three to four extra months’ worth of food to your waistline.

Small snacks can add 20-33% more calories into your daily diet without thinking about it

Obviously, this example is a little extreme. Or is it? Actually, it’s not really that much a stretch to expect and I’m sure you can recall several days that played out pretty similarly. The example also only ran into three potential areas to pick up snacks, but there are dozens more opportunities for BLTs each day. Think of all the times you pick up something left out on a counter at your office, your bank, the doctor’s office, heck even at the dentist office a lot of places will have a snack available. Add in all the extra drinks when you’re out to dinner or watching a game with friends (or that bottle of wine you “shared” while watching The Bachelor, no judgments). Then think about the chips at home or all the times you open the fridge and pop something small in your mouth. What about when you cook? How often do you get a bite, lick, or taste of food before you have a full plate worth? (Speaking of cooking, have you ever finished cooking and then been surprisingly not hungry? How many BLTs do you think you got then?)

Overall, you can see how BLTs, little snacks and nibbles here and there throughout the day can sneakily make you go 10-33% over your daily calorie goals without any thought about it, if not higher. Bites, Licks, and Tastes are the calories you eat when you’re not eating, and they matter more than we give credit for because they can be everywhere and they sneak in. Enjoy your sandwich, but be mindful of unwanted BLTs.