Nutrition Caloric Balance

Caloric balance

Caloric balance is a fundamental concept in weight management and overall health, revolving around the balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. It refers to the equilibrium between the number of calories (energy) you consume through food and beverages (energy in) and the number of calories your body burns through daily activities and bodily functions (energy out). Whether your goal is weight loss, weight maintenance or weight gain, achieving the right caloric balance is crucial.

Genetic Influence

Whether you’re on a journey to gain or lose weight, it’s important to recognize the impact of your genetic predisposition. Just as your genes determine features like hair color, nose shape, and eye color, they also affect how your body responds to efforts for weight management. Understanding your genetic makeup can empower you to navigate your path more effectively.

While research indicates that genetics can play a part in gaining or losing weight, it’s essential to acknowledge that achieving your goals relies on a blend of factors. These factors are lifestyle choices, dietary habits, strategic approaches, and your determination to succeed and all have a significant influence.

According to information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several factors carry more weight than genetic predisposition alone when it comes to affecting your weight. Sedentary lifestyles, calorie-dense diets, reliance on ineffective weight loss strategies (such as fad diets), and individual considerations like health status, mobility, and medication usage, collectively have a more substantial impact on weight gain.

It’s important to note that while your genetic makeup may contribute modestly, its influence is limited. If you’re concerned that your genetic predisposition is affecting your weightloss journey, seeking guidance from a medical professional is advisable. Remember that a comprehensive approach considering nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle factors can pave the way for sustainable and successful weight management.

Law of Thermodynamics

The Law of Thermodynamics, a foundational principle in weight management, underpins this concept. It states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Instead, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another. In weight changes, the energy balance resulting from the relationship between energy intake and expenditure becomes the key determinant.

The Law of Thermodynamics remains undeniable regardless of diet plan or nutritional approach. Every diet may claim superiority, but ultimately, your energy balance will dictate the success of your diet and your progression towards your goals. Manipulating the relationship between energy in and energy out becomes the determining factor in achieving your desired outcomes.

Creating a Caloric Balance

  • Weight Loss: To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit, where energy expenditure exceeds energy intake. This is achieved through consuming fewer calories via a balanced diet and increasing physical activity.
  • Weight Maintenance: Maintaining weight involves achieving caloric balance, where calories consumed equal calories expended—mindful portion control and staying physically active support weight maintenance.
  • Weight Gain: A caloric surplus is necessary to gain weight, where energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Consuming nutrient-rich, higher-calorie foods and engaging in strength training for muscle gain can facilitate healthy weight gain.

Energy Out

Energy Out represents the total calories your body expends daily (TDEE), comprising three main components which can be manipulated to increase your overall energy expenditure, ensuring you achieve your goal/s with minimal suffering. 

Resting Metabolic Rate and Digestion

Your resting metabolic rate accounts for 60% to 75% of your daily energy usage. This is the combination of all bodily functions, excluding digestion and movement. When you restrict your calorie intake, your bodily functions are forced to slow, causing a decrease in your energy expenditure.  To counter this, I suggest increasing your fiber and protein intake to reverse the effect of a calorie-restricting diet. Regular exercise will also increase your resting energy expenditure and energy used for digestion for three days after high-intensity exercise. 

Thermic Effect Of Food

The thermic effect of food is the process of chewing and digesting your dietary intake. The digestion process accounts for an extra 10% of your daily energy usage; particular foods will expel more calories than others. Scientists have found that a higher protein and fibre diet causes an increased thermic effect and will give you an advantage that may assist you in achieving your goal/s. 

Everyday Activities

This expenditure includes all your daily movements, such as fidgeting, carrying in the groceries, and standing up from your desk. The American Heart Association reported that “obese individuals appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than their average-weight counterparts” (American Heart Association | To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, 2022). It is estimated that if obese individuals alter their habits, they could increase their daily expenditure by 350 calories daily. I suggest at least 15 minutes of movement every hour for desk workers, such as walking to the restroom, water cooler, or running errands. Implementing this can increase your daily expenditure and lead to weight loss and fat reduction. There are simple ways in which you can increase your daily body movements.  

Step Counting

Step counting is one of the most useful weight loss or fat reduction strategies. Increasing your daily step count is a major advantage for all goal types. Studies have shown direct correlations between high step counts, greater fitness performance, and lower body fat percentages. 

Consider purchasing a smartwatch or device that has step-counting features. These devices will assist in fat reduction and weight loss, with your training and daily activities combined to total your daily step count. I suggest aiming for a daily target step count and then increasing steps with enjoyable activities rather than just walking on a treadmill.

The average individual performs 5,900 to 6,900 steps daily, but the major World Health Organization suggests 8,900 to 9,900 daily steps. Sedimentary habits and behaviors of individuals are one main causes of obesity rates increasing. This is where my magic 10,000-step count comes from and is achievable for most individuals. Progressing through 1,000 to 2,000 increments per week towards 10,000, then extra can be done for increased calorie expenditure, health and longevity.


This refers to reducing the personal aids in your life, including elevators, escalators, vehicles, etc. Changing your attitude towards taking the stairs, walking instead of driving, and doing other physical activities will increase your daily expenditure. This is not restricted to movements. Standing rather than sitting will increase your calorie expenditure.

Physical Activity & Exercise

Physical activity is the cornerstone of a vibrant and balanced lifestyle, integral to maintaining a healthy weight and enhancing overall well-being. As we delve into exercise, we’ll explore the diverse workouts contributing to your fitness journey and provide insights into crafting a comprehensive routine tailored to your preferences and objectives.

Regularly exercising is a powerful stride towards holistic health. Beyond its role in weight management, exercise bestows many benefits, including bolstering cardiovascular health, fortifying muscles and bones, elevating mood, and mitigating the risk of chronic diseases. It is a transformative tool that empowers you to lead an active, vibrant life.

Embracing the Power of Exercise
Physical Activity – A Pillar of Health and Weight Management: 

Regularly exercising is a powerful stride towards holistic health. Beyond its role in weight management, exercise bestows many benefits, including bolstering cardiovascular health, fortifying muscles and bones, elevating mood, and mitigating the risk of chronic diseases. It is a transformative tool that empowers you to lead an active, vibrant life.

Finding Joy in Movement – Tailoring Activities to Your Liking: 

Discovering activities that resonate with your preferences is a pivotal step towards fostering a sustainable exercise routine. Whether dancing, swimming, cycling, hiking or participating in a sport, the key is choosing activities that bring you joy. By infusing pleasure into your exercise regimen, you increase the likelihood of adherence and make physical activity an integral part of your lifestyle.

Types of physical activity & exercise

Discovering activities that resonate with your preferences is a pivotal step towards fostering a sustainable exercise routine. Whether dancing, swimming, cycling, hiking or participating in a sport, the key is choosing activities that bring you joy. By infusing pleasure into your exercise regimen, you increase the likelihood of adherence and make physical activity an integral part of your lifestyle.

  • Cardiovascular Exercises: Elevating Heart Health: Incorporating cardiovascular workouts into your routine is crucial for enhancing heart health and promoting calorie expenditure. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or dancing provide the cardiovascular boost your body needs. Aim to engage in these activities at least three to five times a week to reap the benefits of improved endurance, enhanced circulation, or weight management.
  • Strength Training: Sculpting Lean Muscle Mass: Strength training forms a cornerstone of a comprehensive workout plan, enabling you to build lean muscle mass, elevate your metabolism and fortify your physique. Incorporate bodyweight exercises or weight lifting into your routine two to three times a week. This not only cultivates strength but also contributes to improved posture, bone health and the optimisation of daily activities.
  • Flexibility Exercises: Nurturing Joint Health and Mobility: Embracing flexibility exercises, such as yoga or stretching routines, fosters joint flexibility, range of motion, and injury prevention. Regular participation in these activities enhances your body’s suppleness, ensuring you move easily and gracefully. Integrating flexibility exercises into your routine complements cardiovascular and strength training, contributing to a well-rounded approach to fitness.
Explore Further: “Physical Activity & Exercise Ebook”

For those eager to delve deeper into physical activity and exercise, I invite you to explore my other book, “Physical Activity & Exercise.” This comprehensive resource offers detailed insights into different exercise modalities, workout routines and advanced training techniques tailored to help you achieve your specific fitness aspirations. Whether a novice or a seasoned enthusiast, “Physical Activity & Exercise” provides valuable tools to guide you toward optimal well-being.

Energy Intake

Energy intake forms the foundation of our nutritional intake and is pivotal in shaping our body’s composition and overall health. The energy currency fuels our everyday activities, from basic bodily functions to strenuous physical exertion. Energy intake is intrinsically linked to the fundamental principle of calorie balance, which governs whether we gain, lose or maintain weight.


They are units of energy from the food and beverages we consume. Your body needs calories, from breathing to physical activity, to perform daily functions. When you consume more calories than your body uses, the excess energy is stored as body fat, leading to weight gain. Conversely, consuming fewer calories than your body needs creates a caloric deficit, resulting in weight loss. Understanding how calories contribute to your energy balance is essential in achieving your weight management goals.


Another unit of energy is often listed on the products you buy and can be used instead of calories. Kilojoules are units of energy digested and utilized, but they differ in conversion. One calorie equals approximately 4.2 kilojoules (1 Cal = 4.2 kJ). In some regions, such as Australia, kilojoules are commonly used to express the energy content of food and beverages.

Calories to Kilojoule Conversions
  • Calories to Kilojoules: To convert calories to kilojoules, multiply the number of calories by 4.2. To convert 200 calories to kilojoules: 200 calories x 4.2 = 840 kilojoules.
  • Kilojoules to Calories: To convert kilojoules to calories, divide the number of kilojoules by 4.2. To convert 1000 kilojoules to calories: 1000 kilojoules ÷ 4.2 = 238 calories.

Calorie Difference Between Macronutrients

Understanding the calorie content of macronutrients is a crucial element in making informed dietary choices to support your weight management goals. Besides carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, other essential macronutrients contribute to your daily calorie intake:

  • Carbohydrates: Approximately four calories per gram. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source, encompassing sugars, starches, and dietary fiber.
  • Proteins: Similarly, approximately four calories per gram. Proteins are crucial in tissue repair, immune function, and muscle building.
  • Fats: Higher calorie density, providing roughly nine calories per gram. Dietary fats are essential for energy, nutrient absorption, and overall cell health.
  • Alcohol: Although not a nutrient, alcohol also provides approximately seven calories per gram. It’s important to be mindful of alcohol consumption when considering your overall calorie intake.
  • Dietary Fiber: Dietary fiber, another type of carbohydrate, contributes calories (about two calories per gram) to your diet. However, it’s important to note that these calories are utilized during digestion, and no surplus is created. Dietary fiber offers various health benefits, including digestive regularity and appetite control.

When striving to manage calorie intake for weight loss or general well-being, you might opt for foods lower in calorie density, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and high-fiber foods. These choices are often more filling and can help you feel satisfied with larger portions while effectively managing your calorie intake.

The Role of Calories in Weight Management

In dietary discussions, the focus often broadens beyond a strict calorie-centric approach to embrace broader principles of food science. While individual food choices and nutrient timing are crucial, a deeper understanding reveals the intricate interplay of hormones influenced by both what you eat and when you eat it. This perspective suggests that enjoying favorite foods in moderation is feasible, as long as these choices align with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. However, it’s crucial to clarify that in the context of weight management, the pivotal factor remains the balance of calories consumed and calories expended. Exceeding your calorie needs, even with “healthy” foods, will inevitably result in weight gain.

Calorie Balance: The Core of Weight Management

Calorie balance hinges on the equilibrium between the calories ingested through our diet and those burned through physical activity and metabolic processes. When energy intake matches expenditure, weight maintenance is achieved. However, consistently consuming more calories than we burn leads to a surplus and subsequent weight gain. Conversely, when energy expenditure surpasses intake, a deficit occurs, facilitating weight loss. This intricate balance underscores the importance of comprehending and managing energy intake to attain desired body composition and health goals.

Calculating Your Caloric Intake and Adapting to Goals

Mastering your caloric intake is pivotal in achieving your desired weight outcomes. Beyond the science of Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which signifies the calories your body expends daily, lies the art of customizing your weight loss, maintenance, or gain approach. Let’s delve into how to calculate your caloric intake and tailor it to your aspirations while keeping a watchful eye on multiple aspects of your well-being.

Calculating Caloric Intake (TDEE):
Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 

Start with the foundational Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), representing the calories your body needs for basic functions at rest. Apply the Harris-Benedict equation:

  • For men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kg) + (4.799 × height in cm) – (5.677 × age in years)
  • For women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 × weight in kg) + (3.098 × height in cm) – (4.330 × age in years)     
Factor in Activity Level: 

The intricacies of activity levels play a vital role in determining your TDEE. You can customize your caloric intake even further by incorporating your daily movement and exercise. Here’s how:

  • Sedentary (little to no exercise): For individuals with desk jobs or limited physical activity, multiply your BMR by 1.2. This accounts for basic movements throughout the day.
  • Lightly Active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): If you engage in light exercises or sports a few days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375. This factor accommodates the extra energy expenditure.
  • Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): For those who exercise moderately regularly, multiply your BMR by 1.55. This reflects the calorie demands of consistent activity.
  • Very Active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): If you’re actively engaged in strenuous workouts or sports almost daily, multiply your BMR by 1.725. This factor considers the higher energy expenditure.
  • Super Active (intense exercise/sports & physical job/training): For individuals with extremely active lifestyles, such as athletes or those with physically demanding jobs, multiply your BMR by 1.9. This accounts for the substantial energy requirements.
Calculate TDEE: 

Multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor to estimate your daily calorie expenditure.

For a user-friendly online maintenance calorie calculator, consider resources like calorie calculator.

Customizing for Weight Goals:

Remember that all changes take time and that your body’s response is unique. Adjustments may be necessary based on how your body reacts. If you’re uncertain about your approach or facing challenges, consider seeking guidance from a registered dietitian or healthcare professional. They can provide personalized strategies tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Weight Loss:
  • When embarking on a weight loss journey, focusing on a caloric deficit of 100 to 200 calories daily is paramount. However, this process involves careful observation and adaptation:
  • Weight: Strive for a gradual and sustainable loss of 1% of your total weight or 0.5-1 kg per week. Drastic reductions may lead to muscle loss and nutritional deficiencies, compromising long-term success.
  • Body Measurements: Regularly measure and record changes in key areas such as the waist, hips, thighs and arms. This offers a holistic view of your progress beyond just numbers on a scale.
  • Physical Changes: Pay attention to shifts in body composition, not just weight. As you shed fat, observe increases in muscle tone and definition. Progress photos can provide visual evidence of your journey.
  • Energy Levels: Monitor your energy levels throughout the day. While a slight decrease in energy might occur due to a controlled calorie intake, severe decreases could indicate a too-aggressive deficit.
  • Hunger and Satisfaction: Strike a balance between controlled hunger and satiety. Opt for nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods that satisfy you and provide sustained energy.
Weight Maintenance:
  • Staying at your current weight requires aligning your caloric intake with your TDEE. 

To effectively maintain:

  • Weight: Keep a consistent weight over time, with minor fluctuations being normal. This showcases your ability to balance intake and expenditure.
  • Body Measurements: Ensure that body measurements remain stable, indicating that you’ve found a harmonious equilibrium between calories consumed and burned.
  • Energy Levels: Maintain steady energy levels throughout the day. Adequate caloric intake fuels your activities and responsibilities without sudden energy crashes.
  • Hunger and Satisfaction: Cultivate a balanced relationship with food. Aim for meals that nourish you physically and bring satisfaction and pleasure.
Weight Gain:
  • For those aiming to gain weight, a daily surplus of about 100 to 200 calories is the key. Pay attention to various aspects for successful and healthy progression:
  • Weight: Strive for a gradual gain of 1% of your total weight or up to 0.5 kg per week. This measured approach minimizes excessive fat gain while supporting muscle development.
  • Body Measurements: Monitor muscle development and overall growth. Notice how clothing fits differently and observe an increase in muscle mass.
  • Physical Changes: Alongside weight changes, focus on improvements in strength and endurance. An increase in physical performance indicates positive progress. 
  • Energy Levels: Ensure sufficient energy to support daily activities and additional workouts. This energy surplus is vital for gaining lean muscle mass.
  • Hunger and Satisfaction: Prioritize nutrient-dense foods that provide a comfortable fullness. This approach ensures that the extra calories contribute to muscle growth rather than solely fat accumulation.
Monitoring and Adjusting: 

Regularly assess these parameters as you journey toward your goals. Should you find progress deviating from your desired path, consider making minor adjustments to your caloric intake, activity level, or meal composition. Personalized guidance from professionals, such as registered dietitians, can provide tailored strategies in line with your unique circumstances.

Remember, while calculations offer estimates, each individual’s response varies due to genetic, metabolic, and lifestyle factors. Strive for sustainable changes and prioritize holistic well-being.

Charlesworth Coaching

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