To maintain a stable body weight, it is important that your energy balance is right – i.e. that you consume the same amount of energy as you use. If you eat more energy than you actually need on a regular basis, you will gain weight. If you constantly burn more energy than you eat, you will lose weight. A combination of lower energy consumption and increased energy use will lead to the most efficient loss of pounds.
Energy requirements vary from person to person.
Everyone needs energy from food to survive. We gain most of this energy from carbohydrates and fats. The energy content of food is measured in kilocalories (kcal) or kilojoules (kJ). One kilocalorie is equal to around 4.2 kilojoules. Fat is the food with the highest energy at approx. 9 kcal per gram. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, contain less than half as much (approx. 4 kcal per gram). In addition to age and gender, body weight and physical activity play a decisive role in our personal energy requirements. For an accurate calculation of your individual energy consumption, detailed measurements by a dietician or specialised doctor are necessary.
Energy consumption also depends on your physical activity.
Our daily energy consumption is based on the basic metabolic rate, nutrition-dependent energy usage and active metabolic rate. The basic metabolic rate is the energy which we burn during deep sleep, e.g. to keep our heart beating and for breathing. In addition to this, we need additional energy when eating and digesting food. This is food-dependent energy consumption or “thermogenesis”. This is the amount of energy which our body needs to break up food, absorb and transport nutrients. Thermogenesis is noticeable by the increase in body temperature after we eat. The active metabolic rate indicates the amount of energy we need for all types of movement. A low activity level will have a particularly significant role in weight gain.
Low-calorie nutrition reduces the amount of energy which is consumed.
If you lose weight and then want to maintain your ideal weight, you should keep an eye on calories in your food and drinks over the long term. Only in this way will you lose weight or maintain your figure permanently. This is often possible without even going on a diet. Especially if you just want to lose a few pounds, a little bit more movement and a targeted change in eating habits will make a difference. Choose low-fat, filling options such as vegetables and salads and opt for whole wheat products. Fruit should also feature in your meal plan. We recommend at least two portions a day. But be careful: fruit also contains energy, i.e. calories – more than vegetables and salad. For this reason you should ideally eat fruit only when you crave something sweet and will therefore satisfy your hunger for high calorie and fatty snacks and sweet treats. In this way, you will cut down on even more calories. Now and then it is of course fine to indulge in a treat. Just make sure you do not eat more than one a day.
Use the Nutrition Pyramid as a guide to the right portion sizes and the right proportions of food groups. The bigger the segment in the pyramid, the more frequently you can eat the foods listed in the segment.
Sport burns additional calories
Intensive sport activities can boost your energy consumption. The fact that sport makes you fit and slim is no secret, as regular training improves endurance, builds muscle, has a positive effect on the heart and circulatory system and burns additional calories. Also, the greater your muscle mass, the more energy you burn, even when at rest when you are not moving.
Choose a sporting activity which suits you and which you enjoy. Then there is more chance that you will exercise regularly. Our sports type finder will help you to search for a suitable type of exercise. Our calorie burn calculator will also show you how many calories you can burn doing different types of exercise.
2 x fruit and 3 x vegetable portions a day
Essentially, everyday movement – compared to occasional sporting activities – has a major influence on energy consumption. The more active you are on a day-to-day basis, the more energy you will burn.
Walk or cycle to work. Go on small visits to the shop without the car. If the journey is quite long, go some of the way using public transport, but only for part of the journey. Take the stairs more frequently instead of the escalator or lift. Energetic walking, household cleaning and gardening will also work up a sweat and burn calories.
If you put these tips into practice, you will create a good basis for keeping your energy balance level. It will also ensure that you have a varied diet and bring some energy to your everyday life.