CEU Article Title: Energy Balance
By: The NCCPT Education Staff
Energy balance is a concept that occurs when energy intake equals energy expenditure. In order to lose weight, energy expenditure must exceed energy intake. In order to gain weight, energy intake must exceed energy expenditure. We are all different. Our specific caloric requirements may be different based on our age, gender, body weight, body composition, amount of rest and activity levels.
There are basic parameters used in health and fitness to determine healthy ranges for body weight. One of the most popular standards of determining healthy weight is BMI which stands for Body MassIndex. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilos by their height in meters squared. However, this can be deceiving. If a person has very little body fat, then they might score as if they were overweight. For athletes, it is important to differentiate between fat weight and muscle weight. If we deduct the amount of fat weight from muscle weight, then we get the body’s true weight. A better way to manage weight for athletes is to measure the lean body weight as a base level measurement. Depending on the sport, it may be advantageous to have more or less body fat. For example, a collegiate wrestler only needs to compete for a maximum of six minutes. However, a cyclist might need to perform for six hours. If a cyclist’s body fat drops too low, then performance may be compromised. And the exact opposite is true for the wrestler. Performance could also be compromised if the athlete’s body fat were too high.
How do you determine a client’s nutrition plan and needs?
It is important to consider a person’s body fat percentage, activity level and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) when determining a nutrition plan. BMR is a person’s resting metabolism. There are a few different ways to determine a person’s BMR. The Harris-Benedict equation is common, but it was written in 1919. Our daily lives entailed much more physical activity in the early 1900’s than they do now, so the Harris-Benedict equation often overestimates a person’s BMR. There are a few other equations that calculate a person’s BMR such as multiplying a person’s body weight in kilos by 24 (for 24 hours) or multiplying a person’s lean bodyweight by 12 or 13. The most accurate way to determine a person’s BMR is to use a BMR machine made by Korr. The person should be assessed in the morning, at rest, and in a quiet place. Sometimes an athlete will need to gain weight, but usually muscle weight is needed and not fat weight. A safe goal is a ½ to 1 pound weight gain per week. To gain 1 pound of muscle, 2500 additional calories are required which would equal an extra 350 calories per day. But the person’s BMR, daily activities and the specific workout or athletic event should still be considered. The additional calories should come from whole foods, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. However, eating additional calories alone won’t build muscle. A person must exercise. The most common goal in athletics is usually to lose body fat or often body weight. Take, for example, a competitive cyclist who can go from 167 pounds at 5% body fat to 150 pounds at 5% body
fat. The cyclist loses unwanted upper body muscle not specific to the sport. For most athletes, this is unheard of.
In order to lose fat, a person must be in a caloric deficit. A pound of fat equals 3500 calories. A person could reduce their caloric intake by 500 calories a day or increase their activity levels by 500 calories to burn those calories. However, you would again need to include the calories expended from the BMR, daily activities and any exercise during that day. In most cases, once that is factored in, it might not be necessary to decrease caloric consumption by 500 calories per day. The weight loss should not exceed 2 pounds per week and calorie consumption should not fall below 1500 calories per day . The most effective mode of exercise for fat loss is aerobic exercise. Spot reduction is a myth because the body draws from the fat stores of the entire body when needed.
Get Your Zzzzs..
Another factor that can affect energy balance is rest. Most people tend to overlook the rest component of energy balance. There is a newly discovered link between sleep deprivation and serious illness such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and cancer. A recent research project at the University of Chicago’s medical school allowed volunteers to sleep only four hours a night for six consecutive nights. Results showed the subject’s hormones shifted.
Leptin is a hormone that affects appetite and tells you when you are full. The leptin levels were low in the sleep-deprived subjects, so their appetites were elevated and they became ravenously hungry. They continued eating pizza and ice cream long after they would have normally felt satisfied. Consequently, their blood sugar shot up to pre-diabetic levels. This is a significant change after only one week of inadequate sleep. Some people genetically may also hold onto fat longer than others and in different places. Energy balance is not attained from just one component. It is rather a combination of correct exercise, a balanced nutrition plan and optimal rest that creates the best environment for energy balance or optimal performance.
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