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Understanding Energy Balance And Why Maintenance Should Be Your Goal.

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

energy balance, calories in calories out
Energy Balance

Let me introduce you to Sally. Sally has weighed 70kg for the last 5 years. She eats around 2300 calories a day; she has an active job and goes weight training 3 times per week. She does about 12000 steps a day. A few months ago, Sally injured her back and she cannot work or go to the gym. She can only walk for short periods of time and sits down a lot. In 3 months, Sally has put on 6.5kg. Sally can’t understand is as she has been eating exactly the same.

What Sally doesn’t understand is energy balance. She didn’t understand because nobody told her. Nobody told her that because her activity level has gone done to nearly nothing, she has to eat 600 calories less every day or she will gain fat.

Another example

James lost 10kg’s 10 months ago, he was at his goal weight. He recently weighed himself and he has gained 5kg. James has never been told about energy balance so he cant understand what happened and blames the diet he did originally.

Energy balance – its life changing once you understand it for yourself.

You can manipulate it, play around with it and swap it around depending on your lifestyle.

Here is the break down.

  • Negative energy balance – when you burn more than you take in leading to weight/fat loss

  • Maintenance energy balance – when you are burn around the same that you take in.

  • Weight/fat stay the same.

  • Energy surplus – When you take in more than you burn leading to weight gain.

So how do I find my energy requirements?

I did this long-winded breakdown of how you should work out your energy needs but its was too long so here is a calculator that is just as good.

In a nutshell it works out your Basal metabolic rate (what your body needs just to function), then you need to input your physical activity level (PAL) and it will tell you how many calories you should be eating to stay put with your weight.

You need to remember that if your activity changes then your calories need to change.

I would recommend you doing it over the week rather than daily. For example, if you are allowed 2000 calories a day multiple this by the 7 day and try to stick with that for the week. This way you can play around with them. You could save up calories for the weekend so you can have a few beers or that pizza.

You can also pull back after a big weekend; you may have had a binge drink and over indulged on Saturday and Sunday. Monday and Tuesday, you could reduce calories or up activity those days to balance it out.

Balance – there is that unsexy boring word that is thrown around so much but isn’t this what we are all looking for? We are all striving for?

You can have balance once you are at maintenance calories, you can be pretty comfortable there. No restrictions, everything in moderation (another unsexy word). You can have it all.

Maintenance should also be the goal

As a nutritionist people will come to us to lose weight or put on weight. Nobody every talk’s about what you do once you get to your goal. Maintenance is the goal. You lose 5kg’s you want to stay there, you need energy maintenance. You put on 5kgs you want to stay there, you need anergy maintenance. Most people who lose heaps of weight and then gain it again have never been told about energy balance. They have never worked out what their energy needs should be and how its actually easy once you know how.

So there you have it, energy balance!

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