A couple months ago, the Royal Society for Public Health (yes, that society is precisely as British as it sounds) proposed new labeling for snack foods. But they didn’t want to highlight the calories in Coke or the added sugar or even whatever the hell Caramel e150d is and how it may or may not be destroying our genitals. Instead, the Royal Society for Public Health proposed that soda be labeled with the amount of exercise it would take to burn off the calories inside one can (26 minutes).
As of now (and unsurprisingly), this suggestion has not been implemented by any major snack-food manufacturers, but the Royal Society for Public Health’s proposal is still a fascinating, and possibly even revolutionary way to think about fitness and nutrition. Because following this model, exercise and snack foods would be the cornerstones of a new sweat-and-sugar-based economy. Here’s how it might work:
Calories would be a currency earned on the treadmill or saved through disappointing lunchtime salads with inadequate dressing. Sodas and cakes and all the other wonderful things that put sugar in our blood and our expansive asses in mobility scooters would be the new commodities those burnt calories would purchase.
In all likelihood, this would not change our eating habits — because as scary as extra-wide caskets may be, quesaritos are tasty as hell — but perhaps this labeling would encourage a bit more exercise. Perhaps this labeling would eventually discourage junk food. And, most importantly, perhaps this labeling would finally nudge me from my seemingly inevitable future of XXXL Tommy Bahama shirts and unironic water aerobics.
There was only one way to find out. I decided to test out the “calories as currency” hypothesis of the Royal Society for Public Health for myself. But since 26 minutes of vigorous walking after drinking a Coke wasn’t quite as cinematic as my editor had hoped, we decided to purchase something a bit more ambitious with my exercise. We decided that I would burn off all the calories from an In-N-Out double-double combo meal.
And, as I would soon discover, there are a sh*tload of calories in a double-double combo meal.
Before I could “earn” all the calories in that combo meal, I first had to figure out how many calories my body burns when I exercise. To do so, I went to Tri Fit Club & Studios in Santa Monica for a full metabolic testing — body composition, V02 max, and resting metabolic rate — to scientifically determine how much exercise it would take for me to “earn” that fast-food meal.