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December 16, 2014



Eating the Right Food and Exercising are All Good. But What's Even More Important? Energy Balance

Energy balance is actually the one thing that defines your weight: you might think that since you exercise on a daily basis and eat all the right things you will automatically lose weight and keep yourself in a good shape. But this is only half true.

What is Energy Balance?

Energy balance can be understood as the relationship between “energy in” (intake calories you get with food and drink) and “energy out” (calories used for the daily energy requirements). Now, before we dwell into the topic, let us clear up one definition issue: even though we call the burned off calories “energy out”, this is not entirely correct, due to the fact that some of the energy becomes fat and glycogen (primary and secondary energy stores respectively) and can never actually get out of the body, resulting in the weight gain. In other words, some of this energy is being used on vital functions of the body, and some — as a reserve, but for the sake of simplicity we are still gonna call it “energy out”.

The “energy in”/“energy out” relationship is defined by the laws of thermodynamics: as you might remember from the physics course, energy is never actually created or destroyed — it is transferred between different objects. Energy balance is crucially important to your body: the body weight, its composition, your looks, the amount of work (both physical and mental) that you perform, even your life expectancy are all influenced by whether your energy balance is positive (meaning more “in” than “out”) or negative (more “out” than “in”), or balanced.

Basically, a negative energy balance leads to weight loss, while a positive energy balance leads to — yes — to weight gain. But that does not mean that all you have to do is to keep the “out” dominate the “in”. According to Ryan Andrews of PrecisionNutrition, a severe negative energy balance can lead to a decline in metabolism and in bone mass, reduction in testosterone levels, an inability to concentrate, and a reduction in physical performance. On the other hand, a continuously positive energy balance leads to weight accumulation and changes in body composition, eventually resulting in reduction of life expectancy.

All of the abovementioned is basic and strictly true only when speaking about “normal” body weight and standard dietary regimes, and should not be considered a guidance if a person is overweight or underweight, or is currently on any diet.

Calories Are Not the Only Thing to Consider

As Ryan puts it, “blaming weight gain on calories [alone] is like blaming wars on guns.” You also have to be your-own-body-aware (eat when you do feel hungry and stop eating if you don't want to), avoid processed foods, do your fair share of regular physical exercise — and manage your energy balance, of course. Because if you don't, it may soon turn out that, even though eating less, along with losing the “fat weight” you will lose the “lean mass” (i.e., muscles). The same goes for overeating (“overgetting” your energy): you gain muscles, but without proper physical exercise, you get fat, too.

However, there is no need to be constantly bothered by the fact that your “energy in” is way too over “energy out” (or vice versa). Your own personal energy balance is hard to estimate, but this can be achieved with the help of the Healbe GoBe Body Manager, which lets you constantly monitor both intake and burned off calories — so that you are always able to counterbalance the excess.


Healbe GoBe Body Manager is capable of evaluating the “energy in” (fat, protein and carbs) based, first, on the mathematical models of food digestion and metabolic processes in the organs and tissues, and second, on the detected changes in the blood glucose level in time. To understand how GoBe estimates your “energy out”, let us look into how your body uses the acquired energy:
1. The major part of it serves as fuel for the basal metabolism, which accounts for nearly 70% of all the calories burn off. The amount of calories needed for basic metabolism is estimated by the Mifflin St Jeor Equation using anthropometrical parameters like weight, height, sex and age.
2. The rest of the energy is distributed among the muscle activity, food digestion (as well as absorption, transport and storage) and additional body temperature regulation. The “muscle activity” energy is calculated with the help of data provided by the in-built precision accelerometer, while the “food digestion” energy is estimated through analyzing the intake nutrients received with food. Unfortunately, the “body heat” energy is not taken into consideration by the current version of the Body Manager due to the technical limitations.

However, the estimation of the abovementioned parameters is more than sufficient to provide a thorough control over your personal energy balance, thus letting you be in general control of your body. To find out even more on the energy balance, read further here.

Please notice that Healbe is not responsible for any content that purports to give medical advice or advice regarding fitness training, exercise, or diet. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and prior to starting a diet or physical fitness program.
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