Energy balance is an essential principle of fitness and weight control. What’s important is how you balance your energy. At the low end of the scale — i.e., low daily energy in, low daily energy out — fitness cannot be achieved and weight lossicon is difficult, ineffective, and often unsafe. High-end energy balance is desirable for fitness and weight control. At the high end of the scale weight loss is easier and more effective.

Five Kinds of Energy Balance

1. Low Energy In – Low end energy balance

No weight gain over time. People in this category are often mistakenly assumed to be fit because they look thin, but their daily energy expenditure is really too low to keep them in shape. Percentage body fat may still be too high.

2. Higher Energy In – Low Energy Out

The typical situation for many North American adults. The sedentary lifestyle produces a low level of fitness. Consistent energy-in surplus leads to slow but steady weight gain over the years. A daily energy surplus of 19 calories (less than a quarter of a slice of bread) can lead to a weight gain of about 2 lbs. over a year, or 40 lbs. over 20 years. The typical dieter’s profile.

3. Lower Energy In – Low Energy Out

Metabolism decreases so weight loss is not proportional to decreased calorie input. May lead to rapid initial weight loss, but of water and protein, not of fat. Weight loss tends not to be permanent in the vast majority of cases. Energy output is too low to increase fitness. Overall energy levels decrease. Food consumption may be nutritionally inadequate.

4. Moderate Energy In – High Energy Out

The ideal approach to gradual and permanent weight loss approach to gradual and permanent – weight loss. Calorie deficit created by increasing energy out and moderately decreasing energy. Metabolic rate remains high, so calorie deficit pays off in proportional weight loss. Weight loss results from burning of excess fat. Overall energy remains high and fitness improves. Food intake does not fall below healthy nutritional levels

5. High Energy In – High Energy Out

High end energy balance. High daily energy “throughput” — i.e., high levels of consumption and expenditure. The ideal form of energy balance for fitness and weight control. High-end balance point is relative to individual lifestyle. In peak training an endurance athlete may have a balance point as high as 5700 calories/day. In the average fit person the balance point ranges from 2142 cal. to 2976 cal./day.

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