You might ask, what is energy balance?
Energy balance is the relationship between energy in (calories from food & drink) and energy out (calories burned for our daily requirements).
If the balance is off, a number of things happen and that includes weight changes. When the energy in is higher than the energy out, the excess will be stored in the body and weight gain will occur. While if the energy out is higher than energy in, weight loss will occur.
Sounds great to eat less and train more to get that ‘perfect body’? Well not quite. In reality, if the energy is not balanced it can greatly affect your metabolism, mood and hormonal balance.
A severe negative energy balance can lead to a decline in metabolism, decrease in bone mass, reductions in thyroid hormones, testosterone levels, physical performance and an inability to concentrate. It leads to weight loss as the body detects an energy “deficit” and fat reserves are called upon to make up the difference.
On the other hand, positive energy balance due to overeating (and/or under exercising) can result in weight gain and issues in health and cellular fitness. With overeating, plaques can build up in arteries, the blood pressure and cholesterol in our body can increase, we can be insulin resistant and thus suffer from diabetes and other diseases.
Therefore, the relationship between the amount of calories we eat in our diet and the amount of energy we use in the body is important as it determines our body weight and overall health.
A survey in 2018 by HPB (Health Promotion Board) showed that an average Singaporean consumes 2470 calories per day with around 10% coming from sugar.
A 1-hour Pilates class will burn around 250-400 calories, 1-hour weight training will burn around 300-600 calories and – hour of run will burn 500-900 calories depending on the intensity and individual.
So how can you achieve a balance with the abundance of food options that are available?
Here’s some day-to-day tips you can follow:
- Be mindful of what you eat. It is very easy to overeat, even with ‘quality’, ‘clean’ or ‘healthy’ food (E.g. a few handfuls of nuts as snack can easily be 300-500 calories per day!)
- Have a balanced exercise regime – aim to build lean muscles with weight training in addition to cardio and mobility/flexibility-based workouts.
- Increase non-exercise physical activity – walk to the shops / work etc
- Get quality sleep! Getting enough sleep really makes a difference.
- Be consistent with what you do. There are no quick fixes or magic products (regardless of what the internet tells you).
- Have a positive social environment — surround yourself with people who will support you on the journey!
The key takeaway here is that energy balance is all about balance in life — you can’t just focus on one element and ignore the others.
Mike Hickman, Instructor and founder of Coyote-Fitness