Energy Equation: The Balance Between Nutrition and Physical Energy

For most of human history, the balance of energy we took in (food) and energy we put out (movement) was a self-regulating process. Now, with so many people consuming processed foods and sugars and adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, that process has gotten flipped on its head. When the input/out of our energy is imbalanced, so is our health.


The balance between our nutrition and physical activity is basically a mathematical equation.

balancing energy

energy in = energy out / weight is maintained

energy in > energy out / weight gain

energy in < energy out / weight loss

The energy you put into your body in the form of calories is added, and the energy you use in the form of physical activity is subtracted. Weight gain is the result of ingesting more fuel than your body needs immediately, so it stores some extra fuel as fat for later use. Weight loss is simply the result of your body using up more energy than you have consumed, which means that your energy stores are empty and will need to be replenished.

Ideally, if you eat well and you live an active life, energy comes in and energy goes out in proportion to each other, and your weight remains at the same place.

Where does all that energy go?

There are three main ways your body burns the energy you eat: rest, food, and movement. Your energy intake and your energy output must be in harmony if you want to keep your machine running smoothly.

Energy In

Identify where you may be consuming extra, empty calories. By avoiding foods that are proven to wreak havoc on your system and contribute to obesity, you can have a meaningful impact on your energy-balance equation.

• Drink water and unsweetened tea instead of soda and juice.
• Eat nuts and whole fruits instead of sugary snacks.
• Eat whole foods instead of processed foods.

Energy Out 

Perhaps your schedule has changed and you find yourself with less available time for movement, and that has resulted in a weight gain. Or it’s wintertime, and you find yourself craving hearty food but not getting out to use that extra energy. You need to move! And you might find that the more you move, the more you crave whole, real foods, because movement connects you to your body, and being connected to your body helps you understand your body’s real needs. For example, after you go hiking or running, your body wants something healthy and nourishing to help replenish its fuel so it can have more fun and movement later.

If you need to increase your energy output:

• Train and build muscle (to burn fat).
• Move more throughout the day.
• Sweat at least once a day.

movement can be done all of the time, and it should be. here are a few ideas to get you moving right now:

• Do butt squeezes while you’re brushing your teeth.
• Do lunges while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew.
• Do calf raises while you’re waiting for the train.
• Run up the stairs. Run down the stairs.
• Stretch your calves on the stairs.
• Walk to the bus stop. Or the next.
• Do sit-ups while dinner is in the oven.
• Stretch during commercial breaks.

No matter how much you don’t feel like getting off the couch and going to the gym, or training for your upcoming 5km or walking home from work; no matter how sore your muscles are at the end of a workout, you always feel really good after you’ve exerted yourself. Those good feelings are related to how your body is working at the cellular level, because how we feel on the outside mirrors what is going on inside, and vice versa.

So: are you an active person or a sedentary person?

As long as you remember that part of being active is moving continuously through the day, you can become an active person RIGHT NOW. Just move. Each moment is an opportunity – so take advantage of every single one. It’s that simple.

Here are some of workouts you can do at home, at the gym, or even at work:

• Kettlebell Workout: 5 Full-Body Moves
• Yoga: Your Secret to Strong, Powerful Abs
• Feel the Burn: Treadmill Workout with Medicine Ball
• 4 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk