The principle of caloric balance matters to your overall health and fitness, because it determines whether you maintain weight, gain weight or lose weight over time. Caloric balance doesn’t take into account whether calories come from proteins, carbohydrates or fats; it involves only total calories in and total calories out.
.'.Caloric balance refers to the number of calories you take in compared to the number of calories you burn.
When your calorie intake and output are equal, you are in energy balance. In this state, your weight stays consistent, and you are eating enough food to support your activities of day-to-day living. The amount of calories you need to maintain this balance depends on a number of factors. For example, if you engage in high-intensity athletics, you need to consume more food than a sedentary person to account for the calories you burn during exercise. Your basal metabolic rate – the baseline caloric needs of your body’s physiological functions – also impacts your caloric balance. During times of stress or fever, for instance, your basal metabolic rate increases, resulting in an increased need for calories to maintain your weight.
In caloric excess, you consume more calories than you burn on a regular basis, either intentionally or unintentionally. Intentional caloric excess can be beneficial to your health if you are underweight, ill or simply trying to pack on muscle mass. It can even be necessary, if, for example, you are pregnant or are an adolescent going through a growth spurt. On the other hand, eating more calories than you need when you don’t mean to can add unwanted body fat as excess calories are stored in your adipose tissue.
Caloric deficit, or negative energy balance, occurs when the food calories you take in can’t keep up with your body’s energy needs. Deliberately keeping yourself in a caloric deficit can help you shed unwanted weight, and doing so in a gradual manner – losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds each week – helps ensure you remain healthy during your weight-loss regimen.
The principle of caloric balance doesn’t address how nutritious your diet is. Even though you may be maintaining your weight, you might still suffer from a nutritional deficiency if your intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins or minerals is not well balanced.
In addition, maintaining energy balance doesn’t necessarily mean your body composition is ideal. Lack of lean muscle mass and an elevated level of body fat can be a sign of poor health even if your weight is stable.