What is Energy Balance?
Energy balance in the human body represents the capacity to do work optimally. The sun is the ultimate source of energy. Plants use solar energy to produce stored chemical energy in the form of either fats, carbohydrates, or proteins. Animals, for example, cows, eat these plants and use and store the plants’ stored chemical energy. After eating animal and plant foods by humans, fats, carbs and proteins in the foods undergo some metabolic changes and are used to develop body structure, to regulate body functions, or to provide a storage form of chemical energy in the human body.
The energy in the body is available for immediate use in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an organic complex compound constructed with high-energy bonds, which, when split by enzyme action, can release energy immediately for several body functions, such as muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, condensate dissolution, and chemical synthesis. To transfer energy in the renewal of ATP, humans rely on food. The amount of food we consume and use as energy has significant impacts on our health, fitness and daily performance. For this reason, energy balance in the body is an essential matter and must be considered in good nutrition.
Energy balance is the relationship between the amount of energy you consume from food and drink “energy in as food calories” and the amount of energy being used in the body for all body processes and daily activities “energy out as calories“.
When energy is not balanced, there is either a positive energy balance (energy in more than energy out) or a negative energy balance (energy out more than energy in).
In general, none of them is an optimal way when improving health and losing weight are concerned in long term. To put it another way, energy imbalances not only impact your weight but also impact hormonal balance, metabolism and mood.
Negative Energy Balance
As mentioned above, a negative energy balance occurs when you take fewer calories than you expend normally. Imposing a large negative energy balance declines the whole metabolic rate. Reduction in the metabolic rate or total daily energy expenditure impacts non-survival functions in the body such as metabolic function, cognitive function, reproductive function and repair function. A good nutrition plan controls an unreasonable negative energy balance in the body.
The same is true of anorexics, the ones who struggle with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a serious disorder that makes one want to stop eating, and that commonly affect young women in their teens and early twenties. They lose physical fitness, metabolic fitness, mental fitness, bone mass, and muscle mass.
For more information, metabolic rate is the total amount of energy required for your physiological functions and processes that take place within the body. Metabolic rate is generally classified into five metabolic components: 1) basal metabolic rate (BMR), 2) resting metabolic rate (RMR), 3) thermic effect of feeding (TEF), 4) exercise activity, and 5) Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). All these components are explained in the total daily energy expenditure post.
Positive Energy Balance
Positive energy balance in the body occurs when the energy one takes from food is more than the energy one expends. The same as negative energy balance, overfeeding or positive energy balance also has its own health negative repercussions. In fact, not only gaining body fat but also increasing blood pressure and blood cholesterol, building up plaques in arteries, becoming insulin resistant (predisposed to diabetes), inclined to certain cancers to name a few, are damaging impacts of too much overfeeding.
A good nutrition plan controls unreasonable swings in either direction of energy balance.
The Bottom Line
Energy Balance is the relationship between energy in and energy out as food Calories. Positive and negative energy balance occurs when either energy in or energy out is more or less than each other and causes energy imbalances in the human body.
Energy imbalances impact more than weight gain or loss. Reduction in the metabolic rate impacts non-survival functions in the body such as metabolic function, cognitive function, reproductive function and repair function. On the other hand, not only gaining fat but also increasing blood pressure and blood cholesterol, building up plaques in arteries, becoming insulin resistant (predisposed to diabetes), inclined to certain cancers to name a few, are negative effects of too much overfeeding or positive energy imbalance.
A noteworthy fact of following a good nutrition plan is that your appetite more closely matches your total daily energy expenditure. But when the diet you normally follow doesn’t consist of whole and naturally occurring foods, your body’s functionality to regulate its dietary intake via hunger signals is adversely impacted. In most cases, when appetite cues are affected can lead to weight gain.