How Changing Your Energy Balance Can Help You Lose Weight

What Is Energy Balance?

Energy balance is the difference between your energy input (the number of calories that you put into your body) and your energy output (the number of calories you burn each day).

Some people refer to the energy balance equation as the “calories in, calories out” equation. You should calculate your energy balance if you want to lose weight. This equation provides a starting point for your entire weight loss program.

Energy balance equation: calories in (energy input) – calories out (energy output)

Energy Balance and Weight Loss

Once you have your energy balance figured out, take a look at the result. You’ll have either a positive energy balance, a negative energy balance or a perfect balance.

  • Perfect Balance: If you end up with a 0 at the end of your energy equation, you’ve found a perfect energy balance. In this state, you won’t gain or lose weight. Perfect energy balance is for people who are in the weight maintenance stage of their weight loss journey.
  • Positive Energy Balance: If you end up with a positive number, you’ve achieved the right balance of weight gain. For some people, like pregnant women, growing children and weightlifters who are trying to bulk up, this is a healthy state.
  • Negative Energy Balance:  If you end up with a negative number, you’ve found the energy imbalance necessary for weight loss. This imbalance is also called an energy deficit. It means that you’ve tipped the scales to slim down. For best results you want a negative energy balance of 500-1000 calories per day to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

There are three different ways to change your number and lose weight successfully.

How to Change Your Energy Balance to Lose Weight

Reduce Your Calorie Intake

  • If you can’t exercise or if you absolutely hate to exercise, you can reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day to lose weight. Once the weight is gone, however, people who choose this option may have a hard time keeping the weight off.
  • As you slim down, your metabolism changes. That means that your energy output number decreases and you have to decrease your energy input even more to reach energy balance. In short, you have to eat less. For many people, eating less is not reasonable or sustainable for the long-term.

Increase Your Physical Activity

  • You can also change your energy balance by exercising more. But burning an extra 500-1000 calories every day with a workout is very For most people, it would require an intense exercise session that lasts 45 minutes or more. And you would need to do it every day. Even fit athletic exercisers need easy workout days or days off to recover and refuel.
  • Unless you are in a job that involves regular physical movement, this option may not be the most reasonable and it may put you at risk for injury.

Combine Increased Activity and Diet Changes

  • Making small adjustments to both your caloric intake and your physical activity is generally recommended as the most reasonable and sustainable method of weight loss.
  • Using this method, you can burn a few hundred extra calories with a workout and cut back calories by eliminating dessert or high-calorie snacks to reach your goal. It is also the best way to maintain your weight after you’ve slimmed down.
  • When you first begin to use the energy balance equation to lose weight, be patient. It takes a week or two to adjust your numbers and see the results. And there are many factors that affect your daily energy balance that can make the weight loss process more complicated. But the energy balance equation is the basis of every weight loss plan and diet.
  • The more you use it and understand it, the more likely you are to lose weight and keep the weight off for good.




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