In simplistic terms, calorie balance is THE most important part of the fat loss equation and has the largest effect on any diet outcome.
Generally all ‘fad diets’ work up to a point because they put you in to what’s called ‘a negative calorie state/balance’. It’s that simple, eat fewer calories than the body needs to perform its daily functions and you’ll lose weight.
It does get slightly more complicated than that if fat loss is your goal!
Other factors such as ‘macronutrient amounts’ and ‘timing’ are important, but if this first one isn’t right then forget the others. Supplements are also important but come behind calories, macronutrient breakdown and timing.
It comes down to trying to get the details in before actually getting the overall picture right. It would be like laying the bricks down on a new house build before putting the foundations in.
So let’s look at calorie balance in a bit more detail....
A calorie is a form of energy measurement and can be used to produce movement and general bodily functions.
Calories are taken in from food and drink to produce energy for immediate use or store for later use.
Generally any excess calories not used for these functions will be stored as body fat or under certain circumstances muscle.
When it comes to calorie balance, there are '3 States' you can be in...
...but you can only be in one of the states at any one time.
1. The First One is what’s called ‘Negative Calorie Balance’:
This is where the body uses more calories for daily requirements for expenditure and maintenance than is supplied by the foods we consume.
The body will utilise calories from storage in tissues such as fat and muscle to meet the demand and hence a negative calorie balance always results in weight loss.
If you are eating in this state you are in what’s known as a ‘Hypocaloric Diet’.
2. The Second One is what's called ‘Calorie Balance’
This is where the body gets enough calories from food to meet expenditure and daily requirements. Because of this tissue weight will remain stable over weeks and months.
If you are eating in this state you are in what’s called a ‘Eucaloric Diet’.
3. The Last One is what’s called ‘Positive Calorie Balance’:
This is where the body consumes more calories than is being utilised for bodily processes and movement. Any extra calories over the course of weeks will be stored as fat, muscle or glycogen with fat being the most preferred.
If you are eating in this state you are in what’s called a ‘Hypercaloric Diet’ which will always result in Weight Gain.
So you can see from the above that in simplistic terms, 'Calorie Balance' is by far the most important side of the fat loss equation and ultimately has the greatest impact on either muscle gain or fat loss over a period of time.
Remember; bodily tissues are composed from calories made up from protein, carbs and fat that is consumed. So if gaining muscle is your goal, those raw materials must be there in excess to supply the building blocks.
If Fat Loss is your goal, then the body must try to take its supply from stored fat and can only do this if not enough calories are taken in.
It’s also important to point out that as an individual becomes more advanced this calorie balance equation becomes even more important.
What we mean by this is that your physiology is now well out of the ‘norm’ from what your natural genes want it to be and that’s fine, but your body will fight against it as you get leaner and potentially more muscular to keep in 'homeostasis' i.e. balance.
At this point, being in calorie ‘deficit’ or calorie ‘excess’ will be THE ONLY WAY TO GAIN MUSCLE OR LOSE BODY FAT.
The research for being in a ‘hypocaloric state’ to lose body fat and a ‘hypercaloric state’ to gain muscle is overwhelming as hormonal mechanisms for achieving either are activated.
In Part 2, we’ll talk about ‘HOW TO determine calorie balance’ and ‘HOW TO change it to affect Fat Loss’