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Understanding energy balance for effortless weight loss.

One of the most simple pieces of information out there can still cause confusion.


We’re still unsure of exactly how much to eat and what to eat for fat loss.


We know we need to be consuming less food than we’re burning (at least I think we do) but we’re still not making any progress.


You think you are, you’re calories are low, you hit the gym 3-4 x a week but nothings changed.


Are you in a calorie deficit or are you unknowingly in a surplus?


Before we dig into the nitty gritty details of your metabolism and how messed up it must be if you’re not losing weight, I first want to cover what energy balance is in relation to weight loss.


Before digging in to why you’re not losing weight it’s important to clear up the ways in which we expend and intake calories.


Simply put Energy Balance is the total amount of calories that are coming in vs the total amount of calories going out.


If you’re consuming MORE calories than you’re burning, you’re in a positive energy balance or a calorie surplus.


If you’re consuming LESS calories than you’re burning, you’re in a negative energy balance or a calorie deficit.


It literally is that simple.


Now, what’s often gone unnoticed is that there are four components to calorie expenditure and there are four components to calorie intake.


Let’s look at calorie expenditure first


To recap, calorie expenditure is the amount of calories expended by our body through heat and digestion.


The four components, which you may have only heard of one are


BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate

NEAT: Non exercise activity thermogenesis

EAT: Exercise activity thermogenesis

TEF: Thermic effect of food


Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories expended to keep you alive. You know, keeping your organs going, holding your posture, breathing. Simply put, if you done nothing every day, you’d still burn calories and this refers to your BMR.


Non exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the amount of calories expended through day to day movements such as scratching your back, talking, typing on the laptop. This is often overlooked, you expend a lot of calories here.


People think that exercise is the biggest expenditure but if you work out for an hour every other day but you’re constantly on the move for 18 hours a day, which one do you think will expend more calories?


Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) is the amount of calories expended through working out or training. This could be in the form of Yoga, a 5KM run or weight training. Depending on the length and intensity of your training, this could be big or small.


Thermic effect of food (TEF) refers to the calories utilised in the digestion and absorption of your food. It roughly equates to around 10% of the total caloric intake of your food. So, if you’re eating around 2000 calories a day, roughly 200 calories would go to aiding the digestion and absorption of the nutrients. In effect, you’d only be getting around 1800 calories from those foods.


And before you say it, yes, different foods have a different Thermic effect. But more on that in another post.


Let’s recap…


You need to take all four in to account when you’re looking to lose weight.


This doesn't count as expending calories but you're certainly wasting them
This doesn’t count as expending calories but you’re certainly wasting them


You’re total TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) – all four of these added up, must equal MORE than what you put in.


It literally is that simple.


Let’s not overcomplicate things here.


Whatever way you choose to get into a deficit is up to you.


The obvious examples include


Keto diet

Cambridge diet


Forever Living

Carb Cycling

Carb backloading

Calorie counting

5:2 / Intermittent fasting




All of these diets are designed to make it EASIER for you to hit that deficit.


That’s it.


[bctt tweet=”Some people find it easier on a certain ‘way of eating’. That’s up to them and not for you to decide.”]


The four ways in which we uptake energy are through four main macronutrients.


Most people say 3, but let’s face it.


We know we all drink alcohol from time to time.


They are


Protein: Sourced from Animal meats, plants, dairy.

Carbs: Again plants, grains, oats, potatoes

Fats: Nuts, seeds, oils, butters


and of course the aforementioned


Alcohol: We know what that is.


What we have to adjust for is that with each macronutrient, they yield different energy/calories per gram.


Protein contains 4 calories per gram, the exact same as carbohydrates. Fats contain 9 cals per gram and alcohol 7 cals per gram.


80g of protein = 320 calories

80g of carbs = 320 calories

80g of fats = 720 calories

80g of alcohol = 560 calories.


You can now see why it’s hard to lose weight when you go on a binge on the weekend right?


[bctt tweet=”Having the right balance of these macronutrients over the day and week, with a slight deficit will allow you to lose weight, and with that fat.”]


With your goals, how you manipulate these macros will slightly differ.


If you’re looking to lose weight then you’d generally want to keep your protein high, so you don’t lose too much muscle.


Likewise, when you’re looking to gain weight, i.e. be in a calorie surplus, you can slightly reduce your protein and increase your carbs.


Everyone has different goals right?


Not everyone wants to look the same so the way you adjust these will make all the difference if you’re looking to become really lean.


And by that I mean for Men to fall below 15% body fat and women below 23% body fat.


Once you understand the basics here, and apply that to your everyday life, weight loss doesn’t have to become so difficult.


All you need is a negative balance.

blueprint bottom bit

You hear hormones and stress get thrown by certain people and whilst they are important, first getting your energy balance right will allow for progress to take place.


After all, energy balance is the foundation of all success and you can then build upon a solid foundation.

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