Expert Nutrition

Energy Input

eating apple

Dietary Factors that Influence Calorie Intake

Energy input basically refers to the diet side of the energy equation and the amount of calories you consume through your eating habits. To get you started on your weight loss journey we are first going to focus on the calorie consumption side of the equation. Why? Firstly because it is easy for people to get confused about what they should be eating and second because for most people, it is easier to reduce the amount of calories consumed through improving your diet, than it is to increase energy output by doing more exercise. Don’t worry, we will definitely get to the exercise side of the equation later.

Weight loss goal # 1 - Reduce total energy (calorie) consumption

Most health professionals would define energy input as the volume of calories consumed in our diet, however for the benefit of our readers we are going to take it one step further and define it as the amount of calories that are absorbed into the body from our diet. Don’t get us wrong, yes the majority (normally greater than 95%) of the calories we eat in our diet are absorbed into the body, but there are a few factors that can influence this which we’re excited about sharing with you later in the chapter. For now let’s get the basics right, factors that influence energy input include:

  • Energy Density - how much energy does the food contain
  • Portion Size - how much of a certain food you eat
  • Eating Frequency - how often you eat
  • Absorption of nutrients - how much of the energy you eat is absorbed and utilised by the body

We will go into each of these factors in more detail later, but for now just a brief summary.

Energy Density
Energy density refers to the amount of calories per gram that a given food contains. For most people the secret to successful weight loss is in the understanding of energy density. Throughout this webpage we will address this issue in detail and explain how slight changes to the energy density of our diet can significantly impact on our total energy input. Learn more about energy density.

Portion Size
It’s not rocket science to understand that as you continue to eat, the energy continues to be absorbed into the body and ultimately energy input increases. Therefore by reducing the portion size of any given food you can definitely help to reduce the total calorie intake throughout the day. It is important however to understand that reducing energy input is not just about reducing portion size, in fact throughout this program you will generally find yourself eating more, not less. How is this possible you ask? Well, by teaching you to eat the right foods you can actually eat more food while consuming less energy. You’ll never go hungry or starve yourself again! Learn more about portion size.

Eating Frequency
How frequently you eat throughout the day can definitely impact on the total amount of energy you consume, but this doesn’t always have to have a negative effect, in fact there are some theories that suggest that by breaking your main meals into smaller portions and eating more frequently throughout the day your metabolism stays elevated for longer and you can burn more. For most people however, it doesn’t matter so much how frequently you eat, but more what you’re eating. We will however address some of these theories when we discuss the other side of the equation - energy output. Learn more about eating frequency.

Energy Absorption
The last factor that contributes to energy input is that of energy absorption, which is starting to become a hot topic of interest among many researches. Previously this factor would not be considered by most health professionals as usually the body is very efficient at absorbing energy (with the exception of some diseases) and it was believed that we generally have no control over it. Recent studies published early this year are now starting to suggest otherwise and again this issue will be discussed later in this chapter.

To start with we suggest you review the energy content of food and learn how it can influence energy input.

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