The Fat-loss Secret – Energy Balance

Today I was listening to a popular Cork Radio show discussing fatloss. A number of strategies to promote fatloss were discussed. Keto and Intermittent Fasting were the two main ones.


What was failed to be mentioned was Energy Balance. Food eaten vs Energy Expended which ultimately dictates fatloss. Now I would have liked to think that this was at this stage well understood but apparently not. Therefore I decided to keep preaching this topic until it really is the first thing brought up in all conversations regarding fatloss.


Energy Intake – calories acquired from eating food.

Energy Expenditure

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) – Energy expended while in a state of complete rest. I usually phrase this to clients as how much energy you would require if god forbid you were in a coma.

Thermic Effect of Food – The use of energy to breakdown food ingested.

Daily Activity – Energy expended while carrying out activities of daily life. Getting up out of bed, showering, and fidgeting, normal daily movement.

Exercise – Planned activity. A sport, gym session, activity etc.

Now as we can see from the above graphic. We want to think of energy intake and energy expenditure as a balancing scales.

Intake < Expenditure = Weightloss (calorie deficit)

Intake > Expenditure = Weight Gain (calorie surplus)

Intake = Expenditure = Maintenance


It really is as simple as that. What isn’t so simple is how you apply this. Of course you can increase your activity (track your steps) and exercise. However for most people manipulating your diet will be far more effect to promote fatloss (increasing activity and manipulating diet being optimal).


Manipulating your diet to promote fatloss involves creating a calorie deficit (Int. < Exp.). Creating a calorie deficit by manipulating your diet can be done in one hundred and one ways. What is important is finding out which way suits you, your lifestyle, your preferences and commitment. If the method you choose facilitates these factors, then you will be more like to adhere to the calorie deficit for long term. This is what will promote sustainable fatloss.


For Example let’s discuss a hypothetical scenario.

Mary is 40 years old, has 3 children and works a full time job. She really wants to lose fat as she is conscious her health is deteriorating, she doesn’t feel confident in herself and in general is not feeling her best.

What would be the best strategy for Mary to lose fat? Keto? Intermittent fasting? Paleo?

NO! All the above are very restrictive in nature, require a lot of thought, effort and discipline and for the majority of people unrealistic. Now that’s not to say it’s impossible, but the likelihood of Mary CONSISTENTLY sticking to her calorie deficit using this approach in slim.

What would be a better approach would be to maybe slowly start building in habits, consume more protein, fruits, veg, sleep better, drink more water, etc etc. This alone may yield results. If it doesn’t, go a step further, educate her on calories and energy balance, swap some of her usual foods she eats will lower calorie alternatives. The less effort and less drastic the changes the more likely she will stick with it.


Losing fat is a long term game. You didn’t gain fat overnight or in a few week or months. You gained fat over months and years of overeating. To lose fat takes time, therefore it is so important to find an approach, whatever that approach may be that you can adhere to long term and not revert back to old habits.


If you want to learn how to manage your nutrition check out the nutrition coaching packages here.

Yours in health,


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