Editor’s Note: Many of us struggling with weight issues often feel it’s too complicated for us to overcome. But in today’s guest post, Jim Rollince simplifies the entire matter so we’re better informed whether we’re interested in weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance.
Over 60 percent of the population in the United States is considered clinically obese or overweight (editor’s note: we find the same stats in Taylor, B.C., Canada – read my review of CBC’s, Village on a Diet). The obesity epidemic in the United States highlights the weight struggle that many Americans deal with on a daily basis.
As many scientific studies suggest, the food that an individual consumes and the amount of exercise they do has the potential to impact their health in a positive or negative way. Individuals interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle or those trying to lose weight often take up intense exercise regimes performing cardiovascular and muscle building fitness routines.
There are tremendous benefits associated with regular exercise, yet there is one overlooked component. Often time those trying to maintain their weight or lose weight put too much focus on adhering to a strict exercise regime, eating only low fat or all natural foods, and staying away from unhealthy foods. Yes, depending on the choices you make all of these factors can contribute to weight loss or gain as well as building a physically healthy or unhealthy person.
These issues become even more confused when you turn on a television or flip through the pages of a magazine and see products that claim to speed up your metabolism and reduce your appetite. These products are designed to target individuals that have difficult experiences with maintaining or losing weight, and don’t believe or know the process to be a straight forward matter of science and math.
Yet, the key to keeping the pounds off or losing them is not found in the raw food movement or boot camp style exercise regimes. The secret to managing weight is in the Negative Energy Balance (NEB).
The science behind NEB is simple: calories consumed – calories burned = weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance. How? Well, your body is an efficient machine. It uses available calories first (i.e. food you ate at your last meal or two) before drawing from your natural reserves (fat and muscle) to fuel physical activity.
Weight gain: When you consume more calories than you use to expend energy, the leftover calories is stored as fat and contributes to weight gain.
Weight loss: You must exert more energy during the course of your day through activities like working out, walking home from work, playing with your dog, etc., than you consume in calories. When you do this, your body seeks out alternative stored energy from fat and muscle to burn and you lose weight.
Weight maintenance: You only need to burn less than or the same amount of calories consumed during the day. Attention to how many calories burned versus how many you put into your body helps you avoid losing too much fat or muscle so you can maintain a healthy weight.
The Negative Energy Balance equation can be used for balance. If you know you will be walking or exercising during the day, you can give yourself more leeway (how much depends on your health goals) to eat something you might not otherwise select if you have a low level of physical activity planned for the day.
The trick to weight management is using the NEB science and balancing your food choice with expended energy.
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What do you think about this simple science of weight management? Do you feel confident that you can apply this knowledge to your health plan?