Energy Balance

Energy Balance: How You Can Use it to Gain Muscle and Lose Fat

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to lose weight – even though you’re doing everything right with your diet and exercise plan – then you’re not alone. Similarly, if you’ve ever found that you struggle to gain weight and increase your muscle, regardless of what you eat – you’ve come to the right place.

At the end of the day, finding the body of your dreams isn’t a magic trick. When people join my Marc Dressen plans for success, and want to learn how to lose belly fat quickly, they discover that the right combination of diet and exercise can accomplish almost anything. However, to figure out how your body works, and how you need to adjust your strategy to make sure that you gain muscle or lose weight effectively, you need to understand the principle of energy balance.

Here’s the deal…

Energy balance is the fundamental law that dictates exactly how your body weight changes with time. Energy balance can be used to help you intentional lose, and gain weight as you see fit. Here, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about energy balance – from what it is, to how you can use it to carve the slim, muscled body of your dreams.

If you’re ready to learn about the power of energy balance, keep reading.

What is Energy Balance?

In simple terms, energy balance is the connection between the amount of energy you use, and the amount of energy you consume. This amount is expressed in the form of kilocalories, or calories. As you know, different foods contain different amounts of calories. If you add up all the food that you eat every day, you’ll get your average “caloric intake”. If you compare that amount to how much energy you burn each day with simple physiological activities, then you’ll notice one of the following things:

  • You’re consuming more energy than you use: This means that you’ve got more energy you need, and eventually, that excess energy will turn into extra fat, or weight.
  • You’re burning more energy than you use: This buts you into a condition of negative energy balance, which results in weight-loss over time.
  • You’re burning about the same amount of energy as you use: This puts you in a neutral state where you maintain the same weight over time.

This is simply an example of the first law of thermodynamics. Over a century of research, we’ve discovered time and time again that energy balance is the key to regulating weight loss, and weight gain. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to count calories to lose weight, but it does mean you need to learn how to use energy balance effectively.

Using Energy Balance to Lose Weight

Using energy balance to lose weight means reducing the amount of energy you take in, and increasing the amount of energy you use. Ultimately, the best solution is to get an aggressive calorie deficit going, of around 25%. This simply means using a research-proven “sweet spot” where you eat 25% fewer calories each day.

When it comes to calories, you’ll need to break them down into macros. The specific foods that you eat might not matter to your weight-loss goals, but research suggests that the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you get is still important. These substances, or macronutrients are crucial for your body composition. Here’s how to use them:

  • Eat around 1 gram of protein per body weight every day. Studies indicate that this amount of protein helps to boost fat loss and improve the preservation of muscle. If you’re overweight, then you might need only 1 gram of protein per pound of fat-free mass.
  • Eat around 0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight every day. Research indicates that this level of fat intake is enough for maintaining the right hormone levels and improving nutrient absorption.
  • Get the remainder of your calories from carbs. This will help you to maintain the high level of training intensity you use at the gym, which could mean that you burn more calories while working out, and preserve more muscle and strength.

Once you’ve gotten your macros figured out, you’ll be able to transform them into effective meal plans. While there’s always a chance that you’ll be able to lose weight without paying much attention to your macros and calories, that approach generally has a higher rate of failure. Eventually, you’ll need to start tracking the food you eat and planning your meals if you want to keep losing fat in the long-term.

Using Energy Balance to Gain Muscle

To gain muscle, you need to start by gaining weight.

In the section above, I showed you that if you wanted to get results from your diet when it comes to losing fat, then you’d need to eat less than your total daily expenditure of energy. On the other hand, if you want to improve muscle growth, then your aim should be to eat a little more.

When you’re looking to improve muscle growth, you’ll need to eat, on average, about 15% more than your average total daily energy expenditure. This slight surplus of energy should allow your body to grow muscle more efficiently. At the same time, your macronutrient break down will be different, and look more like this:

  • Eat a gram of protein per pound of body weight every day
  • Eat 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight
  • Obtain the rest of your calories from carbs

Final Thoughts on Energy Balance

Energy balance is basically the key that controls your bodyweight. When you learn how to use it properly, you can have total control over how much you weigh, whether you lose or gain weight, and whether you stay the same for longer.

Energy balance is also the first aspect of dieting that you’ll need to master when it comes to getting the body of your dreams. If you get it wrong, then nothing else in your training will matter. At the end of the day, you can try every fad diet that’s ever been created, but if you don’t know how to maintain a calorie deficit, you won’t lose any weight for a lasting period of time. At the same time, if you can’t manage a calorie surplus, you’ll always struggle with gaining muscle.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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