Energy Balance

Okay, we have finished up all of our nutrition lessons and have discussed all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to be healthy. However, there are other things we need to understand in order to live a healthy lifestyle, today we are talking about energy balance.

energy-balance3

Energy balance is just that, a balancing act. As the image above suggests, calories consumed are on one side of the scale and calories burned (including those burned through physical activity) are on the other side of the scale. When a person eats the same amount of calories as they burn throughout the day, it is called energy balance. When there is a balance between calories eaten and calories burned, you maintain current weight.

However, a positive energy balance means calories consumed are greater than the calories expended. A positive energy balance results in weight gain. One theory I hear quite a bit is that only carbs store as fat if eaten in abundance…not true. ¬†ANY calories that are taken in (and not burned) will store as fat. It doesn’t matter if you are eating your excess calories as carbs, fats or proteins, your body will say, “We didn’t really do enough to need this today, but no worries, I’ll just save it for later”. It then proceeds to turn the extra calories into fat and sends it straight to your hips, your gut or your fanny. Not good.

On the other side of the scale is a negative energy balance. Negative energy balance means calorie consumption is less than the amount of calories burned. A negative energy balance will result in weight loss. It is important to understand that when the body is “losing weight” it will reduce the amount of ¬†lean mass (lean mass is a term used to reference the weight of your muscle, organs, tissues, bones, blood and fluids…well pretty much everything except your fat) as well as your fat stores.

So where are you on the energy balance scale? This is where food journals come in handy. Tracking your calories eaten throughout the day in a food journal is a good way to get a clear picture of where you are at. You will be surprised how the calories in “a bite or two of this” and “three or four of those” add up! Check back on Wednesday. I’ll tell you what I have my clients track in their food journals as well as give you some examples out of my own food journal so you can see what I do with myself. See you then!

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