Energy balance Understand the science of losing or gaining weight

The energy balance can be positive or negative. To understand how the body gains or loses weight this concept is important to understand.

Hello Jonas,
I have set myself the goal of finally losing a few kilos, and now I have heard and read much about the negative energy balance. What exactly is it about and what has this to do with losing weight?

Julia (35)


Hello Julia,
Energy balance is the relationship between energy intake (energy that you obtain from your daily food) and energy expenditure (energy used by your body). A negative energy balance therefore means that you expend more energy than you obtain. Conversely, a positive energy balance means you obtain more energy than you expend. In principle, a negative energy balance (if it has existed for a longer period of time) leads to a weight loss since the body must take the missing energy from its energy storage (body fat and, unfortunately, also muscle). In the case of a positive energy balance weight is gained because the body can store the excess energy in the form of fat deposits.

The energy balance is therefore crucial to whether you gain or lose weight. To lose weight, you simply have to use more energy than you are consuming. In addition to healthy and moderate nutrition (energy intake), you need a lot of exercise (energy expenditure). The trick is, on the one hand, to increase your so-called basic turnover (the amount of energy required by the body to maintain its functions in complete rest), and on the other hand to increase your performance conversion (the amount of energy that the body needs for all work beyond the basic conversion). Your total daily energy consumption is a result of your basic turnover, plus your performance conversion. You can increase performance with more movement through endurance training like biking, swimming and jogging. Very effective – and not to be underestimated – is being active in everyday life: reject the tram and walk, or take the stairs instead of the lift.

Also, you can increase the basic turnover by building additional muscles (most effectively through strength training). Strength training is also important for you as a woman, in order to sustainably decrease weight. With 1kg extra muscle mass you expend between 10 and 50 kilocalories more a day! In one year 1kg extra muscle mass makes a big difference on the energy balance. It is easier to understand when comparing it to a car: a trained body has a larger engine and not only enhances the performance, but also needs a lot more gasoline. So, a strong athlete is a Ferrari, while the untrained body is more like a Smart.

By the way, it makes sense to eat approximately 20 grams of high-quality protein (protein shake, meat, fish, etc.) directly after a strength training to optimize the build-up of muscles.

- Jonas Caflisch, INDIGO Fitness

Author: Jonas Caflisch

Jonas Caflisch, Owner of INDIGO Fitness Clubs

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