Calorie Balance

Calorie Balance

We are ALWAYS in one of 3 possible states of haphazard or strict calorie balance:


1. CALORIES ARE BALANCED when an individual’s intake of calories via food and drink is the same as his/her expenditure on activity and body processes. When an individual’s calories are balanced his/her body weight will typically stay the same, however body composition (lean muscle: fat ratio) can change.

The balance of calories allows the body to function optimally, increase metabolic processes, and allows the individual to work and train hard. It also allows for pinpointing where we should go to keep from adaptations to our metabolism.

2. CALORIES ARE POSITIVELY BALANCED (HYPER-CALORIC) when an individual’s intake of calories is being increased to produce an increased body weight.  The excess consumption of calories is stored in either the fat cells, muscle cells, or glycogen.  This positive calorie balance will always result in tissue weight gain.  Where the fat gains are stored all depends on the hormone balance, the macronutrient intake, and the style/volume of training. Everyone is a different equation.

3. CALORIES ARE NEGATIVELY BALANCED (HYPO-CALORIC) when an individual’s expenditure of calories  (body maintenance, recovery, and movement) is HIGHER than the calories consumed.  The calorie being used to produce energy are not sufficiently supplied by food intake alone and various stored energy (from fat and muscle tissue) must be burned to make up the difference.

Because the difference comes from the breakdown of body tissue, negative calorie balance can result in weight loss.


Generally, we want to maintain muscle mass and burn body fat, the hypo-caloric balance needs to be calculated correctly to achieve this goal.  Breaking down lean muscle mass has a negative impact on metabolism and all the hard work you are trying to do in the gym.


Hopefully, you can now see why calorie balance is one of the most important principles of a successful nutrition plan.  It has the greatest impact on how much muscle you can gain and how much fat you can lose over any period of time.  Calories from all three macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) literally compose your body tissues.  Before lean muscle can be built or maintained, the energy for the calories you eat need to be correctly balanced as essential building blocks to healthy body composition. If the body does not have the resources to maintain lean muscle mass, then you will become under-muscled and fat.

The energy from fat cells can be used to help build and maintain muscle tissue if calories are managed correctly.  This means that muscle can be built and fat can be burned at the same time, without needing to switch between a positive calorie balance and a negative calorie balance.  This process only works well under specific circumstances, when someone has the additional body fat (energy stores) that can be used to fuel muscle growth.  This process becomes less practical when an individual becomes leaner, as the leaner individual required an increase in calories to maintain lean body composition. Yes, the rules are different for those who are already lean, as these individuals can benefit from eating ice cream and milkshakes and fast foods.

This is where it gets messy, as the negative calorie balance is often misunderstood and crazy ideas like intermittent fasting and detoxing confuse the topic even further.  Everyone is looking for shortcuts and the fastest way from point A to point B, and the “more is the better approach” is not always the case.

Many of us incorrectly start thinking that cutting more calories and adding CARDIO is going to help us get leaner faster, and this is simply not true. A low-calorie diet can help you lose weight, but this is going to be at the cost of both lean muscle mass and body fat.  Always remember that lean muscle is metabolic and helps your metabolism run hot and allows us to stay strong and healthy.  A reduction in lean muscle mass will slow down the metabolism and impact hormones and bodily functions. The body is already under stress when it is in a deficit. The job is to keep us alive, the body will make modifications to do so. Those can be frustrating and should be addressed by a nutrition technician.


Nobody can sustain a low-calorie diet for a long period of time without falling sick, impacting health markers, increasing stress levels, having mood swings, and feeling pretty crappy. This is due to adaptation and often inappropriate calorie deficit that is in most cases unnecessary for fat loss.


As soon as you return to a “normal calorie balance” your body will quickly gain back the weight you have lost and most of this will be stored as body fat, not lean muscle.


This becomes a negative-feedback loop as the body is attempting to get back to homeostasis, but insufficient calories make it almost impossible to do so.


The process of science-based cycles of dieting wins. How you do this process matters. Stick to tracking food, even on DOGS days, you will be happy you did. This is just like tracking your monthly spending. You can’t save without a concrete plan. You must first learn your eating habits, social flexibility needs, and length so you can maintain a good healthy strict phase of dieting even if it is only a couple of weeks at a time. THIS WILL WORK!!!


Give it a hard 90 days.

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