Energy Balance: What is It and Do You Have It?
When it comes to getting and staying fit, you need a consistent balance of exercise and nutrition in order to be successful. However, that is easier said than done because achieving that balance has proved to be very difficult for many people. A study just released in the July 2014 edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlights that future success with regard to weight loss, overall fitness and health will require people to understand, implement and maintain what is called "energy balance."
Quite simply, energy balance is achieved when the amount of calories you burn is higher than the amount of calories you consume. It all sounds so simple, but with diverse lifestyles, tight schedules and so many trends to choose from, people tend to become too narrowly focused on either nutrition or exercise without creating a balance of both. The authors of the study sent out a call to action to health, nutrition and medical professionals to start working together to make sure that all the latest nutrition and exercise information and practices are presented to the general public. The goal is to have both professionals and the general public focused on diet and exercise, not just one or the other.
What does all of this mean for you? Well, it means that the process of all of these professionals defining and presenting the general public with information on energy balance is finally starting to happen. More importantly, this means that information on "how" to actually create and maintain a healthy lifestyle will start to become more standard and consistent. Does this mean that you now have to eat all of your meals while you're jogging or on a bike ride? No, but rather start out by being aware of and focusing on having a consistent balance of healthy foods and exercise daily, weekly, monthly and yearly!
At the basic level, here are 5 things you can do to develop your own personal level of Energy Balance:
- Perception. Start by perceiving Nutrition and Exercise as one system and work to ensure that you are eating healthfully and exercising on a consistent basis. This can be as simple as cutting out fast/junk food and walking 3-4 times per week for 20 minutes!
- Don't over-complicate things. If a 20-30 minute walk, jog or bike ride is all that you can do, that is fine, but stay consistent and understand that you don't have to exercise at high intensities or break world records to get great results. Keep moving and do it consistently!
- Choice & variation. Find 1-3 activities that you enjoy, and rotate them to avoid boredom: There are countless forms of physical activity to choose from, so take the time to step out of your comfort zones and try new things.
- Don't follow trends. As long as you are performing physical activity for sustained periods of time (20 or more minutes), you'll be just fine. If you want to ride around town on a unicycle while juggling, go for it! As long as you're moving and enjoying yourself, that is what matters.
- Ask for help. If you don't know where or how to start, go to a local fitness facility and have a professional map out a simple plan of action that is specific to your needs. Often, this will be free or at a very low cost. A few sessions with a trainer to kick-start a basic program for you is very inexpensive and worth every penny. If you don't ask for help, you won't receive it.
Balance and consistency are the key!
To read the full study, click here.