Energy Balance

Energy balance is the difference between the number of kilocalories (kcals or Calories) you eat (intake) and the number of kcals you burn (output).

Figure 1-1. Energy Balance: Intake vs. Output

Intake = Output, i.e., energy balance.

Intake = 3000 kcal Output = 3000 kcal Weight Maintained

Intake = 3000 kcal Output = 3000 kcal Weight Maintained

Intake > Output, i.e., positive energy balance.

Intake = 4000 kcal Output = 2000 kcal Weight Gain

Intake = 4000 kcal Output = 2000 kcal Weight Gain

Intake > Output, i.e., positive energy balance.

Intake < Output, i.e., negative energy balance.

Intake = 2000 kcal Output = 3000 kcal Weight Loss

Figure taken from FI Katch and WD McArdle. Nutrition,Weight Control, and Exercise, 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1988.

Sensitivity of Energy Balance

Energy balance can be changed by altering energy intake, energy output, or both, as shown in the following examples. (1 pound (lbs.) of fat equals 3,500 kcal.)

Eati n g 1 extra chocolate chip cookie (65 kcal) each day for 1 year would be: 65 kcal x 365=23,725 kcal. This would add up at the end of the year to a total net weight gain of 6.8 lbs. (23,725 - 3,500).

Example 2:

If you maintain your kcal intake and run an extra mile per day, 5 days per week, you would expend an extra 100 kcal/mile x 5 miles/week x 52 weeks = 26,000 kcals per year. This would result in a net weight loss of 7.4 lbs. per year (26,000 - 3,500).

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