Expert Nutrition

The Energy Equation

Balancing Your Diet

Understanding the energy equation and learning how to balance it is the most important concept you can learn when you’re trying to lose weight. When it comes to reviewing weight loss programs if they don’t take into consideration this basic formula they won’t work. You’d be surprised how many diets don’t even get the basics right. So let us first look at the concept of energy and then see where many diets fall short.

Understanding Energy

Throughout this chapter we will constantly be referring to the word “energy” and so at this point it is important that you learn to understand the word energy as a physics term (ie the energy required to power the body).

There are a couple of different methods of measuring energy, some refer to kilojoules and others calories, regardless of what unit of energy you use as long as you’re consistent it won’t matter.

Now don’t be scared at this point and think that we’re going to have you counting your daily calorie intake - we won’t, in fact at the end of this chapter we’ll have taught you enough so that you don’t have to. However, understanding energy and the implications it has on your weight is the single most important concept you can learn if you are trying to lose weight.

Given that Calories is a more globally excepted term, throughout this website we will predominately refer to Calories. However for the benefit of our readers whenever we provide practical examples we’ll use both Calories and Kilojoules side by side so that you don’t have to make the conversion. If for education purposes you do want to know the difference between kilojoules and calories, this link will open in a new window and you can return here when you’re done.

Now that you understand energy as a physics term, it should not be associated the feeling of being energised. That is, adding Calories to your diet does not necessarily mean that you will feel more energetic, if this were the case marathon runners would be drinking cooking oil and eating cheese before their race. If you’ve ever eaten a large portion of cheese (which is a very high energy food) before I can assure you that running a marathon is the last thing on your mind, instead it makes you feel tired. We’ll come back and explain why later in this chapter, for now we simple want you to understand that eating high energy foods don’t necessarily make you feel more energetic.

Weight Loss Tip

Adding Calories (energy) to your diet does not mean it will make you feel more energetic, it may have the opposite effect and cause lethargy.

Weight Loss Formula

The energy equation is a simple formula that is found in just about every nutrition and exercise physiology text book that has ever been written. So it’s not a new concept and it is endorsed by all major governing health bodies across the world, surely they can’t all be wrong!

If you’re already familiar with how balancing this energy formula can help you to achieve your weight loss goals, take your time to learn a fresh perspective. Please don’t fall into the trap of skipping through the pages without reading them first as you could easily miss an important concept.

The body’s energy equation is simply a balancing act of Energy In vs Energy Out and is stated as follows:

Change in Stored Energy = Energy Intake - Energy Expenditure

All this talk about energy might confuse some readers so let’s break it down so that it’s easy to understand. To start with it is important to understand that body fat is simply a form of stored energy. Naturally if you consume more Calories in your diet than what you burn throughout the day, the excess calories have to go somewhere and subsequently they are stored as body fat.

Given that body fat is just a form of stored Calories we can rewrite the equation to meet the needs of our readers.

Change in Body Fat = Calorie Input - Calorie Output

One of the easiest ways to explain the energy equation is the set of scales analogy featured below.


Balancing the Energy Equation

The problem arises when we eat more Calories than we burn. As a result the energy equation is positively balanced and the Calorie surplus is stored in the form of body fat (ie if we consume more Calories than we burn the excess Calories get stored as fat and body fat increases).

The good news is the opposite is also true, if you burn more Calories than you consume, the equation is negatively balance which means that your body has to get the extra Calories from somewhere and so naturally you tap into your reserves (body fat) and the end result is body fat decreases.

To achieve your weight loss goal you must simply balance this proven weight loss formula in your favour. This is not a new concept to most people who have tried to lose weight before, but from here on in, it is important to consider that the way in which you alter the equation can have a significant impact on the long term results.

Firstly, let’s turn our attention towards the diet side of the equation and learn how improving your energy input (diet) can balance the energy equation in your favour such that you get results.

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