Updated: Sep 21, 2018
Calorie Balance is the single most important variable when it comes to body composition and how successful you are with your endeavours to either drop body fat or gain muscle mass. I have made a graph below to demonstrate just how important this principle is. If we had a beaker and decided to fill it up with different colour liquids each colours size representing how significant it is in the success of a diet then calorie balance would be the beaker. I say this because without a beaker we would have anywhere you pour the other segments and its the same when planning a diet any efforts put into the other segments without first applying this principle would be futile at best. Calories or Energy balance dictates if any diet or dieting strategy you follow is successful or unsuccessful.
It applies to
- Intermittent Fasting
- Weight watchers
- Slimming World
- Cambridge Weight Plan
- The Whole30 Program
I hope that builds a big enough picture it doesn't matter what style of dieting you follow if you do not ensure that the Energy balance is in favour of your goal you will FAIL.
There are three states of Energy Balance and they are mutually exclusive. It's impossible to be in more than one state and any one time.
- Negative (hypocaloric)
- Balanced (eucaloric)
- Positive (hypercaloric)
This state refers to when an individuals exergy expenditure surpasses his/her intake. In this state, the calories being used to produce energy are not sufficiently supplied by intake, therefore, store calories must be burned to make up the difference. These calories come from the breakdown of body tissues, as a result, a negative energy balance always results in weight loss.
This state refers to when an individuals energy expenditure and intake are equal. When this happens an individual uses all of their consumed calories for some form of body process, their weight is stable neither mass is gained or lost. Now on a day to day basis being total eucaloric is highly unlikely but over weeks or even months, it's totally possible. The best indicator of this state is body weight than fluctuates up and body slightly but remains within the same region.
This state refers to when an individuals energy intake exceeds their expenditure. In this stage, the extra calories being consumed are converted into storage forms ready for later use. This State always results in tissue weight gain.
By now you should understand just how important this principle is and the 3 states of energy balance that you can be in. But let's get a little more into it and how you can manipulate it to your advantage. You cannot create something from nothing if you're trying to gain muscle mass then you need to supply your body with an excess of calories via protein carbohydrates and fats as they literally compose body tissue.
How to determine your calories balance and how to shift it to where you want to be.
In order to maximise our chances for muscle gain or fat loss, we must know when and how to enter a specific state. There are numerous ways to figure this out one way is to use a metabolic equation such as the Harris-Benedict formula to give you something to work from the other way is simply to weigh yourself regularly. As we know being in any one of the three states always results in the same thing and it's impossible to be in more than one state at any one time. Another way is to jump on the scale and monitor your weight over time this will show you which state you're in. Hold your horses I can hear the uproar..........but muscle weighs......... but nothing! Recently the scale has been demonised its a "liar" "muscle weighs more than fat" (incorrect) "BMI is bullshit". Look as we discussed there are three states one where tissue is lost, one where there is balance and one where tissue is gained this is pretty accurately reflected in weight gain weight loss or balance. Yes, muscle is denser than fat so takes up less space but 1kg is still 1kg and its highly unlikely that your dropping body fat and gaining muscle at an equal or positive rate. I do agree that BMI is a fairly inaccurate way of demonstrating health as athletic or individuals with a lot of muscle are confused as those possessing equal weight as body fat, but we aren't even using the scale to work out our BMI so stop talking about it. It's funny how people hold on to these little lies because it makes them feel better. So using a scale bi-weekly is a highly effective and cheap way to measure what's going on with your diet.
Using the Harris-Benedict formula to calculate basal metabolic rate and total daily energy expenditure.
Men - BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5
Women - BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161
Sedentary or light activity (Office worker getting little or no exercise) = BMR x 1.53
Active or moderately active (Construction worker or person running one hour daily) = BMR x 1.76
Vigorously active (Agricultural worker non-mechanized or person swimming two hours daily) = BMR x 2.25
This will give you something to work from. Weight must still be monitored in order for you to shift the diet or exercise in favour of your goals.
So now that you understand that Calorie balance is to most powerful weapon in your arsenal in the pursuit of muscle gain or fat loss how do you alter your state in order to shift into the state which yields the results we are looking for.
First things first we need to set out calories and monitor what's going on I usually suggest doing this over a 2-4 week period this should give you a pretty accurate idea of which state you are currently in.
When it comes it to weight gain or loss 1-2lb per week seems to yield the best results with the least negative changes. Chances are if you want to lose weight you're looking to drop body fat and keep as much muscle as possible and with weight gain, most people aren't looking to just gain lots of fats well as muscle. While both these scenarios cannot be fully avoided than can be minimised. This happens when you don't try to alter weight rapidly hence 1-2lb per week seems to yield the best results for the time frame, you could go slower but the progress would be so slow it would be hard psychologically to stick it out.
Once you know where you are either adjust calories up or down 5-10% and monitor what happens, keep monitoring and adjusting as you go.
Once you have mastered this section you'll be ready for Volume 2
Volume 2 - Macronutrients https://www.devanneystrength.com/blog/a-scientific-approach-to-nutrition-volume-2-macronutrients