Energy Balance – Weight Gain and Weight Loss

//Energy Balance – Weight Gain and Weight Loss

Energy Balance – Weight Gain and Weight Loss

August 19, 2020
2020-08-22T14:36:43+00:00 August 19th, 2020|Disease|0 Comments


Simply put energy is the capacity to be active and engage in our day to day physical activities. In biology, it is measured in kilocalories(kcal) or kilojoules (kJ). Energy balance signifies the difference between energy intake and energy expenditure. Energy intake is defined as the total energy content of foods consumed, as provided by the major sources of dietary energy: carbohydrate (4kcal/g), protein (4 kcal/g), fat (9 kcal/g) and alcohol (7 kcal/g). Food energy is used to maintain the body’s vital functions ( such as heart function, breathing, digestion and maintaining body temperature) as well as other functions like physical activity.  Energy expenditure is defined as the total energy lost through

  • basal metabolic rate (energy used while the body is at a complete rest to maintain vital body functions ),
  • the thermic effect of food (TEF, the energy required to digest and absorb food) and
  • the energy expended in physical activity.

When the energy intake surpasses the energy expenditure, there is a positive energy balance, which results in weight gain if this occurs regularly. When the energy intake is below the energy expenditure, there is a negative energy balance and weight loss results if this occurs regularly. Over the long term, energy balance is maintained in weight-stable individuals, even though on a day-to-day basis this balance may sometimes be positive and sometimes negative but more often than not, it is within a close range of the recommended intake.

Basic manipulation of the energy balance equation will yield weight loss or gain. It is also important to note that weight loss can be as a result of a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, uncontrolled diabetes,  depression, rheumatoid arthritis, endocarditis, gluten intolerance HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

On the other hand, weight gain can also be because of an underlying medical condition or aside effect of drugs. Conditions that can result in weight gain include hypothyroidism, menopause, chronic stress, quitting smoking, kidney problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, and ovarian cancer. Some drugs can also lead to weight gain through increased appetite; increased fluid retention; increased fat storage; slowed metabolism and fatigue (limiting physical activity). These drugs include insulin and some oral medication for diabetes, steroids, antidepressants, some anti-seizure drugs, some anti-hypertensive drugs and some anti-allergy drugs (antihistamines).

DO NOT STOP TAKING ANY MEDICATION without consulting your doctor. Work with your doctor to get alternatives whose side effects do not include weight gain. Otherwise knowing this might only mean you will need to work twice as hard to shed off the extra kilos which is VERY POSSIBLE.

How to gain weight

People living with diabetes who are losing weight or having difficulty gaining weight should first  ensure that  it is not due to high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia can lead to weight loss and is a dangerous state for the body. If the weight loss or inability to gain weight is unexpected, notify your doctor. It may be that your medication needs to be adjusted for better glycemic control.

To gain weight one should increase energy intake above daily energy expenditure. The increased calories is based on weight gain goals, age, gender, physical activity level, weight and height. Increase food intake by:

  1. Increasing your portions but not compromising on healthy food choices. Also include high calorie snacks in between your meals e.g. nuts and healthy low G.I smoothies
  2. Add more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to your food daily, i.e. fatty fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil to cook food or in salad dressings.
  • Add nuts, seeds and olives to salads to increase calories
    • Add avocado slices to salads.
    • Snack on almonds, walnuts, or pecans and add these to plain, natural yogurt.
  1. Add more proteins to your diet and it should be according to your recommended daily intake to cater for weight gain goals.
  2. Eat from a variety of food group: grains, vegetables, meats, poultry and fish, legumes, fruits, dairy and dairy products, nuts and seeds
  3. Do resistance training as form of exercise. This is a form of exercise where increases strength, muscle mass by use of resistance in form of own body weight, dumbbells, bottles of water, rubber exercise tubing or any other object that causes muscles to contract.

How to lose weight

  1. Increase your energy expenditure.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Try to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day.
  • If you are able, go for a brisk walk, participate in sports, start dancing classes, or engage in active games
  1. Decrease your energy intake.

The most important thing to do is limit portion sizes. Always go small!

  • Eat healthy meals rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. try to eat at least 5 servings each of low GI fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Limit/avoid high-sugar beverages; such as soft drinks and fruit juices and refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, cakes, white bread.
  • Limit /avoid the intake of high-fat foods like ice cream, butter, high fat-milk and high-fat meats.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women, 2 per day for men. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages if you have any difficulty controlling them.

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