Understanding Nutrition Part 1

Energy Balance

There is a lot of confusion around nutrition and food within the fitness and health community. I get a lot of questions from clients and fitness enthusiasts like “what is the best type of diet for losing weight/body fat?” or “If I eat carbs, is it going to make me fat?”

These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions I hear on a weekly basis, so there is a lot of confusion out there as the media and magazines throw so much information at people without fully explaining the fundamental key to nutrition.

The ONLY reason you are not losing weight or not gaining muscle is the fact that your current nutrition protocol is not taking care of the key thing we must consider when these are your goals and that is energy balance. Energy balance is the defined as the amount of energy in vs out. So energy balance is all to do with the amount of calories we are consuming on a daily basis through our food choices and the amount of food we decide to eat.

So the fundamental reason that you are not losing weight is because you are eating too much food, tipping into a positive energy balance. Therefore, if you not gaining weight you are tipping the scales to a negative energy balance. This is the number one reason must of the population is not achieving their goals!! Yes, there are cases were this is not the case and other factors can and must be considered but only when you know that energy balance is addressed.

So to work out what your energy balance you need to find out your body weight in pounds (lb) and then multiply that number by 10. An example would be if you took a 200lb male and then multiply 10, this male’s calories (energy balance) would be 2,000 a day.

200 x 10 = 2,000

Although from here we need to multiply this number by an activity level number. An activity level number is the amount of exercise or activity you do daily/weekly, this includes your job, how many times you work out a week and anything else you do. See chart for numbers and activity level at the bottom of the page.

So if we go back to our male weighting 200lbs that needs 2,000 calories we will then multiply his calories by 1.5 as his activity level. This then gives us a baseline of maintenance calories to help maintain his weight.

2,000 x 1.5 = 3,000

So now we have his calories at energy balance maintenance we can now look at his fitness goal and reduce or increase his calories based on this. So a good start point if you are looking to lose body fat would be a 10% – 20% deficit of total calories or 5% – 10% increase in total calories. Therefore, your energy balance will either be a positive or negative energy balance. This may seem confusing now but once you have found your energy balance it is very easy from there, as food doesn’t matter as much as energy balance for your fat loss or muscle building goals.

So if you want a diet higher in carbs than fat or the other way around and still fits your calories/energy balance for the day, if goal is fat loss, you will still lose fat. Although make sure you are eating enough protein.

So reducing body fat or gaining muscle mass is as simple as working out your energy balance and eating accordingly to your calories and activity level. Start here on your nutrition plan journey, start getting results and then we can discuss the importance of protein, fats and carbs in part 2 of this understanding nutrition series.


Lifestyle and Training Frequency Multiplier  

Sedentary plus 3-6 days of weight lifting: 1.3 – 1.6
Lightly active plus 3-6 days of weight lifting: 1.5 – 1.8
Active plus 3-6 days of weight lifting: 1.7 – 2.0

Very active plus 3-6 days of weight lifting: 1.9 – 2.2