The Basics Of Energy Balance

Lesson 1 Module 1

Any food or drink containing macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat, and alcohol) will contain calories. Calories provide the body with the energy it needs to carry out basic bodily functions, as well as fuelling day-to-day activity, and throwing weight around in the gym.

The relationship between the calories you consume (energy in) and the calories you burn (energy out) dictates whether you lose, gain, or maintain body fat. Here's how these terms are defined:

  • Calorie Deficit - Consuming fewer calories than your body burns. Your body reverts to other sources of energy to make up this deficit. Typically, this comes from stored body fat (although there are exceptions).
  • Calorie Surplus - Consuming more calories than your body burns. Your body stores the excess calories as body fat.
  • Calorie Maintenance - Consuming the same amount calories as your body burns. Your body has no need to store or use body fat, meaning you stay as you are.

You may have heard people say that calories don't matter and it's all about what you eat or even when you eat. While these things do have some level of importance, energy balance is the overriding principle.

In subsequent lessons, you'll be able to dig into the research that supports the energy balance theory. For now, here's three studies that compared common weight loss diets. Both showed no significant difference between any of the approaches.

Randomised Control Trial Of Four Commercial Weight Loss Programmes In The UK (Truby et al 2006)(Pubmed Link)​​​​​ (Downloadable Text)

"All diets resulted in significant loss of body fat and weight over six months. Groups did not differ significantly but loss of body fat and weight was greater in all groups compared with the control group."

Comparison Of The Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, And Zone Diets For Weight Loss And Heart Disease Risk Reduction (Dansinger et al 2005). (Pubmed Link)

"Each popular diet modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk factors at 1 year."

Comparison Of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs On Overweight And Obese Adults (Johnston et al 2014). (Pudmed Link)

"Significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet. Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small. This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight."

You can also download this handy guide to calories if you want to read more.

The Iron Paradise Fitness Guide To Calories And Macros