Energy Balance – Muscle Gain and Fat Loss introduction
Energy balance, the net result between energy intake and energy expenditure, has a profound effect on the capacity to build muscle or lose fat. It is extremely difficult to build muscle while in an energy deficit molecular signaling will favor catabolism (breaking down). It is also very difficult to lose fat while in an energy surplus. In addition, it is suboptimal to either build muscle or lose fat while at maintenance (equal balance).
As you probably know, calories are units of energy. Thanks to to online calculators such as myfitnesspall. we can monitor and manage how many calories we are eating and how many we are expending. Therefore, managing your weight/body composition has never been so easy. By simply scanning the bar code the food is calculated. (Very easy app to use). Also, it allows me to save foods or meals I make on the regular. Seeing as I eat same foods 80% of the time, the whole process takes up only a minute of my time everyday. From an educational standpoint, I think its imperative that everyone should consistently track their food for at least a couple of weeks. (including alcohol J).
There are many methods to find your caloric maintenance. Personally I haven’t found a significant difference with using simple calculators on google to what my maintenance is when tested by specialists. Here’s a link to an accurate calculator:
Again, if you want to achieve very low levels of body fat, consistent weighing of the body first thing in the morning will give you a more accurate indicator of your optimal maintenance. However, a good plan that works is better than perfect plan that doesn’t.
In addition to energy balance, the consumption of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) is also of great importance from a nutritional standpoint. In addition, Getting adequate protein’ is by far and away the single most important factor in setting up a proper diet. There’s just really no argument about this.
for the most part, studies where protein is adequate (or at least close to it), varying carbs and fats within the context of an identical caloric intake tends to have a minimal overall effect. What effect is occasionally seen tends to be small and highly variable (some subjects do better with one diet than another but there’s no consistent advantage). With the possible exception of extreme conditions (folks looking for super-leanness or folks who are super-obese), caloric intake is the greater determinant of results than the macronutrient composition.
Many diet books rely on the rather simple prescription of ‘reduce or remove food X’ to lose weight. With X being something that contributes a lot of calories to the body, such as fat, sugars or highly refined carbohydrates. But while such diet books typically use all kinds of pseudo-physiology to explain the effect, it’s really quite simple: if food X contributes a lot of calories to your diet and you remove food X, you’ll eat less total calories and lose weight. No magic, simple caloric restriction.
During your journey of trying to feel good and look good you will come across many myths, - especially online. You might happen to come across people that claim that calories do not matter. (They do). You might come across another species that claim being gluten-free is a necessity if your goal is to feel great and get shredded. Not true, unless you are in the <5% of the population who are gluten intolerant.
Alan Aragon puts it very well; When you dig in a little deeper, you see that the people telling you not to count calories are all-in on low-carb dieting. No bread, no cereals, no potatoes, no fruit. You’re jolted back to your middle-school health class. On the one day you managed to stay awake, the teacher listed all those things as part of a healthy diet. But here’s another way to avoid counting. The paleo diet is all about eating like our ancient ancestors, before that evil thing called agriculture was invented. This diet makes a bit more sense to you. You can eat all the meat you want, along with fruits, vegetables, and nuts. But some of the rules still strike you as arbitrary. No beans? No grains of any kind? No dairy? You understand why cavemen wouldn’t have eaten those things, and with 30 seconds of research you learn that the ability to digest milk into adulthood didn’t exist until a few thousand years ago. But since it exists now, along with enzymes to help you digest grains. Yet another branch of the low-carb tribe seems obsessed with wheat in general, and gluten in particular. You aren’t sure what gluten is, but you don’t like the sound of it. They all sound like they know what they’re talking about. They all have rosters of authors and scientists and bloggers who agree with them. They cite published research that, to them, is persuasive evidence that they’re right and everyone else is living in a fantasy world.
It’s very simple really. Caloric surplus =gain weight. Caloric deficit = lose weight.
I will update this article regularly. It will eventually look like a book chapter.
Any questions, just ask!