Starting a Fat Loss Program Part 1 - Energy Balance Principles - Metabolism Basics

One of the places that people often go wrong in beginning a fat loss program is in overlooking the basics of metabolism. They look to fad diets that eliminate macro nutrients like carbs/fat completely or diets with a point system. All of which cloud how weight loss happens and keeps you from learning about how your body actually works. But it is only when you learn these principles that you can achieve long term control over your body composition.

All diets, including the fad diets referenced above actually work on the same principle, daily calorie restriction. The problem with other models is that they are imprecise, for example by strictly eliminating carbs from your diet the hope is that this will bring you to a calorie negative state and cause you to lose weight. The result is a hit or miss approach that might have you lose fat one week but not the next or you may be successful for a time but then be so hungry that it is impossible to stick to your diet, a situation caused by creating too large of a calorie deficit. Not to mention any health risks and negative symptoms(brain fog, irritability, liver stress) associated with complete reduction of carbohydrates from your diet.

However, if you learn the basics of metabolism you will forever be able to bring your body into balance using a safe and controlled program that you can build yourself.

Let’s begin by understanding the energy balance of the body and how it relates to weight loss/gain. Through science we know that the human body works on an very simple energy balance principle.

Written as a formula it looks like

Energy Intake( Food ) - Energy Expenditure( BMR* + Activity + Exercise ) = Weight Gained or Lost


Calories in - Calories Out = Calories gained or lost as body fat

*Basal Metabolic Rate

Basically your waist line and body-fat percentage is the credit card for your eating and exercise habits. When you eat more calories than you expend you create calorie debt (body fat) and when you burn excess calories you reduce that debt and burn fat. So the key to losing body fat is to consistently burn more calories than you eat.

1 Pound of Body Fat = 3500 Calories

As we can see, 1 lb of fat equals 3500 calories so if we want to lose one pound each week we would need to burn off 3500 more calories than we have eaten and that is called creating a calorie deficit which we will explore in more detail in Part 3 - Creating a Calorie deficit.

But before we can move into creating a calorie deficit and consistently losing fat we need to first understand our daily energy usage. To do that we will need to learn about our Basal Metabolic Rate and calculate the calories out part of the formula above. Luckily that is our next entry in our fat-loss series. Click here to be taken to Part 2- Daily Energy Needs.


About the Author

Aaron Williamson

is a certified member of the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals and C.E.O in the software development sector. With a passion for personal fitness and helping others achieve their best health and performance Aaron coaches nutrition and exercise programs at Elite Personal Training in London, On.