Many people believe that in order to lose weight, all they need to do is count calories. That’s not necessarily the case, as energy consumed and energy expended plays a part in whether you lose or gain weight as well. As such, it is important to know your energy balance if you are to shed pounds and keep from gaining them back.
What Is Energy Balance?
Energy balance refers to the relationship between calories taken in (energy in) and calories burned for energy (energy out.) It is this relationship that often determines whether weight is lost or gained. When you are in a positive energy balance, you are taking in more energy than what you are burning, but during periods of negative energy balance, you are exerting more energy than you are taking in.
Positive Energy Balance
Having a positive energy balance can not only cause weight gain, but can also lead to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol. Plaque might even build up in the arteries due to overfeeding. Many people who consistently have a positive energy balance will become insulin resistant, thereby increasing their risk for diabetes. Some studies show there is an increased risk of cancer for these individuals as well.
Negative Energy Balance
A negative energy balance may disrupt several bodily functions, resulting in a reduction in thyroid and testosterone hormone levels, difficulty concentrating, and a reduction in physical performance. A decrease in bone mass has even been attributed to a negative energy balance. While a negative energy balance will have all these effects, it will nonetheless result in weight loss because your body senses an energy deficit and relies upon stored fat to make up the difference. Over time, it can lead to a slowing of your metabolism, making it easier for you to gain the weight back.
Energy Balance Equation
An energy balance equation is used to determine if you are positive or negative. This equation states that Energy Balance = Energy Input-Energy Output. To calculate the equation, you must first be able to determine your energy input and energy output. Energy input is simply the number of calories you consume each day. Energy output is a little more complicated to determine, as it consists of several factors:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories you consume while resting. BMR accounts for between 60-75% of all calories burned each day.
- Everyday activities, which account for around 15-30% of all calories burned each day.
- Digestion, accounting for around five to ten percent of all calories burned each day.
If you are at a positive energy balance, you will need to eat lean protein at regular intervals throughout the day, and increase the amount of exercise you are performing. Should you have a negative energy balance, you must pay attention to peri-workout nutrition, limit the amount of non-exercise physical activity you perform, and focus more on weight training than other types of workouts.
The right energy balance is the key to maintaining good health and the proper body weight. If you are struggling to lose weight or get in great shape, perhaps your energy balance is not quite where it should be.