You’ve probably heard about the concept of “energy in vs energy out” - it’s frequently mentioned as the cornerstone of achieving body composition goals. The basic premise of the theory is that the way our bodies look is affected by the difference between how much energy we consume with food and how much we burn through activities of daily living, such as maintaining basic bodily functions, running errands or working out.
While the concept of energy balance is often presented like the top picture, the reality tends to be a bit more complicated:
Although useful when applied correctly, the concept of achieving the right energy balance for your goals is often oversimplified or even misinterpreted.
There are so many factors influencing the relationship between one’s intake, energy output and the end result – and this intricate balance can be difficult to understand, especially when just starting out. And yet, having an understanding of what works for your body and lifestyle is so important!
To help you obtain thorough understanding of energy balance and achieving your body composition goals through nutrition, we decided to start a new Energy Balance Blog Series.
Today, we wanted to talk about adjusting your nutrition by making small, easy changes that can make all the difference!
Small changes - big impact
So many factors can influence how we perceive the “energy in vs energy out” equation - and sometimes small adjustments can have a major impact on the outcome!
For example, it’s not uncommon for someone who’s never properly considered the nutritional value of their meals to say something along the lines of: “I’m eating healthy, never include processed foods or added sugars - and yet, no results!”. Then, they could put their lack of progress down to factors such as “damaged metabolism”, which is often counterproductive.
In addition, at this point, a person becomes very vulnerable to falling for wrong advice or diet fads, when in reality, the answer is likely to be much simpler. Even when eating “healthy” (which, by the way, can have completely different meanings in different communities and cultures), you can still be consuming wrong amounts of nutrients for your goals - either too much, or too little!
Take a look at 2 meal options below, each consisting of highly nutritious foods:
By simply eyeing these meals, one may conclude that they’d be pretty close in terms of calories and macros. However, in reality:
- The meal on the LEFT has approximately 37 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat and 37 grams of carbohydrates, adding up to 359 calories;
- And the meal on the RIGHT contains 34 grams of protein, 35 grams of fat and 60 grams of carbs - which is 691 calories in total!
And here’s how really subtle differences can have a big impact, especially when they add up. The 332 calorie difference between these options could easily push someone under or over their daily target. It’s very important to understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with either of the meals - both options could be appropriate depending on one’s physique and goals! However, it’s a simple way to demonstrate how you can easily make suboptimal choices for your personal goals if you’re not 100% familiar with what goes on your plate.
To identify whether similar issues may apply to you, tracking your intake for even a short period of time (e.g. a week) can provide a valuable insight into what small things can easily be tweaked to fine-tune your energy balance. Some common examples include:
- Considering how much oils and sauces you use in cooking
- Watching portions of energy-dense foods such as nuts and nut butters
- Tweaking the ratio of whole eggs and egg whites when cooking with eggs
- Paying attention to what cuts of protein are used, and whether you eat them with/without skin, trimmed/untrimmed/etc
BBR Tip: our new Food Journal feature has lots of options to play with and see how little changes can make a big difference!
At BBR, we truly believe in helping you create a nurturing, positive environment for yourself and setting yourself up for a lifestyle of health and success - and there are no shortcuts to this!
Here’s what our recent Train Like Me Challenge winner Chely has to say about this: “Life is dynamic. You are mums, working full time jobs, students, FIFO, you need to make sure the meals and recipes suit your lifestyle but THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO ANY PLACE WORTH GOING. You have to be prepared to commit to dealing with the food aspect”.
Creating change means learning and being uncomfortable at times - but know that we’re here to equip you with information and tools to help you create the best version of yourself! Learning to consistently implement small changes day after day, week after week is exactly what leads to BIG results, however you envision them.
Hope you enjoyed the first blog in the Energy Balance Series - and see you again soon! xx