Eating Less Calories to Lose Weight
Eating less calories to lose weight intuitively to make sense. A great deal of the general population thinks that the relationship of eating less calories to lose weight is a no brainer. It is the equation of if you want to loss weight calories in must be less than calories out. And just the opposite that if calories in are more than calories out; than weight will be gained. However, there is a lot more behind a successful weight loss program other than eating less calories to lose weight. Let’s take a look at the important details.
Eating less calories to lose weight or eating too many calories and not exercise will both lead to what is called an energy imbalance. The term energy imbalance is used when either you are in a positive or negative energy balance. Sure, if you want to lose fat you need to go into a energy imbalance where your energy expenditure is greater than your energy intake. On the opposite end are the people who want to gain muscle mass and gain weight. Their energy intake needs to be greater than their energy expenditure.
In either case the body is in an energy imbalance. Whenever the body is in an energy imbalance there are a myriad of physiological implications going on at every level. Energy balance or imbalance can have an impact on the overall healthy functioning of your body.
Energy Balance and Weight Gain and Loss
Eating less calories to lose weight, exercising, moving more or moving less, will all have affects on energy balance. General consensus would show that most people think that the only factors that affect energy balance are how much one eats and how much they exercise. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Because energy balance affects every level of our body, it only make sense that energy balance is a multi-factorial regulation process. It is much more complicated than only eating less calories to lose weight and exercising more.
Positive Energy Balance
Some of the factors that go beyond eating less calories to lose weight are: genetic factors, psychological factors, environmental factors, hormonal factors, just to name a few. When calorie balance is positive and the food stuff that is consumed is more than that of the body’s calorie needs, then what occurs is that these excess calories are stored in the body.
Of the macronutrients; carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, fat is stored as triglycerides, and protein is stored a bit differently. Proteins are broken-down into amino acid pools but are in such a limited supply that they do not meet the body’s everyday physical demand needs. The bottom line with all of the macronutrients is that the excess calories are stored and body mass increases.
This body mass increase does not have to be a negative outcome. You can gain lean body mass when carbohydrates are stored and muscles are gained. However, it can be the negative effect when one does not follow a good nutrition plan and has a diet that is high in fat. Because the body already has fat cells, eating fatty foods are most easily broken-down and converted to fat.
However, there is a tipping point to even eating too much nutritional food. Overfeeding beyond a reasonable rate, where muscle mass can no longer keep pace with energy intake; will lead to the excess calories being stored as fat.
Negative Energy Balance
On the other end of the spectrum is a calorie deficit, or negative energy balance. As discussed in my article Metabolism and Metabolic Rate, roughly 70% of the body’s daily energy usage just goes toward maintenance functions. In other words, it takes a lot of energy just to stay alive. So, eating less calories to lose weight will create a negative energy imbalance; now the body will get the energy it needs from stored nutrients. Add a little bit of exercise and now you can really start to use those stored nutrients.
Carbohydrate metabolism, fat metabolism, and protein metabolism all kick in to create ATP and supply energy to the body. However, if one takes eating less calories to lose weight too far, or allows their carbohydrate and fat stores to be depleted; it can lead to disastrous effects on the body. The negative consequence is that the amino acids from muscles and organs will start to be used for the energy that the body needs. As you can probably guess, this resulting loss of muscle and organ mass is not desirable.
Eating less calories to lose weight needs to be conducted practically with exercise as part of the plan. At most exercise can make up to 30% of the body’s daily energy demands. Out of all the methods to control metabolism, exercise is the most controllable metabolic component. Increasing exercise volume or exercise intensity is one of the best methods to creating a negative energy balance.
The exercise portion of eating less calories to lose weight is important because it helps when the body taps into the stored protein from muscles due to the increased energy demands of exercising. The reason being is that exercise can stimulate protein synthesis which can lead to a net positive protein status. So, even if the body uses some of its protein because of increased energy demands, the body’s overall lean muscle mass will increase; which results in more stored protein in the body and a higher metabolic rate.
Exercise and Energy Balance
When using exercise to increase energy demands there are a few things to know.
High-Intensity, Short-Duration exercises uses a generous amount energy during the activity. More importantly, after the exercise activity is over the body’s energy demand can remain elevated for minutes to hours afterwards. In other words, your body is still burning calories after the exercise activity is over. High-Intensity, Short-Duration activities have a higher carbohydrate breakdown compared to fat breakdown.
Low-Intensity, Long-Duration activities require a much higher amount of energy during the exercise. Unlike High-Intensity, Short-Duration exercises, after Low-Intensity, Long-Duration activities; the body’s energy needs quickly return to its baseline level and no extra calories are being burned. What Low-Intensity, Long-Duration does have going for it is that there is a total higher percentage of fat broken down relative to carbohydrates.
Low-Intensity or High-Intensity?
I know what your thinking. If more fat is burned during Low-Intensity, Long-Duration activities that’s for me. Don’t make the mistake that Low-Intensity, Long-Duration activities are always better exercise activities. This is not the case. If you only have a limited amount of time during the week to exercise, then your best choice will be to do High-Intensity, Short-Duration. High-Intensity, Short-Duration exercises will use more energy per minute of exercise, have an effect of burning calories after the exercise is over; which can lead to actually burning more fat than Low-Intensity, Long-Duration exercises. The drawback to High-Intensity, Short-Duration workouts are that they are very demanding on the body. The best plan would be to incorporate the best of both worlds and have a vary exercise routine.
Eating Less Calories to Lose Weight
As you can now understand, there is a lot to think about other than eating less calories to lose weight. There needs to be considerations made about the overall energy balance of the body. Is my energy balance positive or negative, if its negative am I going to far over the line and damaging my body, if its positive am I over eating even good nutritional foods? Are Low-Intensity, Long-Duration exercises better for my weight loss plan over High-Intensity, Short-Duration exercise? These are all good questions to consider when moving toward a fitness lifestyle. The changes that you make in you life need to be permanent and obtainable, it is not a diet; it’s fitness lifestyle.