We have all seen people stress about the calories they consume through the day, especially when trying to achieve specific fitness goals. But, there is one question that is still quite prevalent. Is calorie balance relevant or not? Should we stress about calorie consumption throughout the day?
What is Calorie Balance?
Before we answer that question, let us understand what calorie balance means. Calorie balance is all about calculating the calories that you consume and the calories that you burn. To maintain a balance, the total calories count from the food that you consume should match the calories that you burn through the day.
Why is Calorie Balance Important?
In case you have been training for a long time and notice no physical changes in the body, there is a good chance that you are currently in a calorie balance state. In case you need to lose weight or gain weight, the calories count of the food you consume should be different from the calories you burn.
It is quite simple. If you wish to lose weight, you should burn more calories than you consume. If you want to gain weight, the calories you consume must be higher than the calories you burn. For this reason, the calorie count is relevant when you are trying to achieve specific fitness goals.
The calorie balance equation lists three types of calorie balance statuses. When the intake and usage are the same, the person is in a calorie balance state. When intake is higher, he or she is in a calorie excess state. If the usage of calories is higher, then he or she is a calorie deficit state.
Practical Application of the Calorie Balance Equation
There are several studies which suggest that what you eat matters and not how much you eat. This is why the relevance of calorie balance is often questioned. One typical example is the importance given to low-carb diets. Several experts insist that consuming a low-calorie diet tends to help you lose weight even if you consume the same amount of calories. However, these studies make use of diet journals to estimate the consumption of calories. Most often, diet journals are inaccurate. In addition to that, there is no clear understanding of the nature of weight loss. Did the subjects lose water weight, muscle or fat?
However, there have been consistent studies to show that calories count matter, irrespective of the source. When individual wishes to lose weight, a calorie deficit diet is most beneficial.
How to Calculate Calorie Balance?
The simplest way is to use a calorie counter. This tells you how many calories you have consumed and burned through the day. Alternatively, you can maintain a journal listing the foods consumed through the day. You must also list the physical exercises and the resting time throughout the day. There are several calorie counters online that will help you calculate your calorie balance based on the food you consume and the physical activity through the day. However, the latter may have some inaccuracies because the calories burnt from metabolic activities are usually not considered.
Why is the Source of Calories Important?
Although the calorie balance model suggests that only the calories matter, you cannot get your calories from junk food or unhealthy food because the sources of calories affect other aspects of health besides weight gain or weight loss. For example:
- They affect the hormonal balance in your body.
- Foods rich in sugar can lead to issues like insulin resistance.
- Carbs and proteins keep you more energetic.
- Muscle gains require ample protein intake.
- A healthy and well-balanced diet benefits the immunity of the body.
While the meaning of calorie balance varies from one individual to another, it is safe to say that it is relevant, especially when it comes to your fitness goals. Some individuals may see results by altering the calorie balance slightly while others may have to tip the scales more to achieve their goals.