The law of energy balance can be used to help you build more muscle and burn more fat.
Now that you've learned all about healthy foods and the best sources of food to eat, you need to learn more about how to eat to build muscle and burn fat.
This is a mystery for many people.
But I'm going to make this very simple for you today.
The first step you need to take is to only eat the best sources of food as described in the WLC System.
Eating only the healthiest of foods allows you to flood your body with nutrients.
If you're planning on eating unhealthy foods but less of them, you're going to have lots of problems losing body fat and gaining muscle mass. You'll end up with more body fat and less muscle, which means you will look horrible.
So please make sure you're eating only the healthiest foods and that junk food has no part in your diet.
Developing Your Understanding of Energy Balance
Energy balance is exactly what it says… a balance of energy.
If there isn't a balance, you are either lacking energy or have too much energy. Too much food intake means you will have a positive energy balance while not enough food intake means you will have a negative energy balance.
Here's an equation that describes the law of energy balance:
Energy Balance = Calories In – Calories Out
“Calories In” are the calories you intake in the form of food. You can count the amount of energy you are feeding your body by logging the foods you eat.
Then add up the calories for all of the foods you have eaten and that's your total number of “Calories In” for the day.
Keep in mind that all of this food is the healthiest food available!
You'll learn more about counting calories in a different article here at Weight Lifting Complete.
“Calories Out” are the calories your body has burned throughout the day for internal body processes, normal every day activity, and any extra activities you have added throughout the day.
You will burn additional calories during your weight lifting workouts and cardio workouts. You'll even burn calories from these workouts after you have completed them.
We do not know the exact amount of calories our bodies are burning each day. Everyone's body burns calories at different rates. This rate at which your body burns calories is your metabolism.
Even your personal metabolic rate will change depending on many different factors. For example, junk food will lead to a decrease in metabolism. Low calorie diets will decrease your metabolism. Weight lifting will increase your metabolism as another example. Cardiovascular exercise will increase your metabolism.
If “Calories In” is higher than “Calories Out,” the result of the equation above will be positive.
When you take in more calories than your body requires, you will gain weight. The weight you gain will come in the form of muscle, body fat, or a combination of the two.
If “Calories In” is lower than “Calories Out,” the result of the equation will be negative.
You will lose weight when you take in fewer calories than your body requires. The weight you lose will come in the form of muscle, body fat, or a combination of the two.
Obviously, if you lose weight, you want that weight loss to come in the form of fat loss and not muscle loss. You might think you don't care if you lose muscle, but trust me, you do care. You'll care when you see the results in the mirror. When you lose muscle you simply look smaller with the body fat still there.
Vice versa, if you gain weight, you want to gain muscle and not body fat. Gaining body fat is something you don't want to do unless you have very low body fat levels which can also be very unhealthy.
If “Calories In” is equal to “Calories Out,” your body weight will stay the same. This means you provided your body with the exact amount of energy it needed — no more than it needed or no less than it needed.
Please keep in mind that all of those numbers can change on you every day depending on your activity, food intake, and your body changing its metabolism.
How to Use the Law of Energy Balance
You can use the law of energy balance to help you reach your goals.
If you keep track of the amount of food you are taking in, you can measure the amount of calories you are supplying to your body.
You can use your changes in body weight and body composition to determine whether or not your diet is helping you reach your goals.
For example, let's say your goal is to lose 1 pound of body weight each week.
In this example, you are taking in 3000 calories and lose 2 pounds of body weight. This means you are burning more energy than you are taking in.
You can increase calories slightly so that you only lose 1 pound of body weight per week.
Or, you can decrease the amount of cardiovascular exercise your are doing. Or, you can decrease volume in your weight lifting workouts IF you are using a high volume weight lifting program.
There are also many other options you can take to decrease the rate of weight loss each week. Please understand that losing large amounts of body weight quickly most likely means you are losing muscle mass in the process.
And again, you don't want to lose ANY muscle mass.
You will learn much more about adjusting your diet and making changes to your program throughout this website.
I just wanted to provide you with a quick introduction to the law of energy balance. If you need further help understanding the law of energy balance, leave your questions in the comments section at the end of this page. I'm glad to help with any questions you have.
The Law of Energy Balance is not Perfect
The law of energy balance isn't perfect, but it is very, very useful in helping you reach your goals.
Remember when I said you need to be eating ONLY the healthiest foods? If you do this, the law of energy balance will work even better for you. If you start eating junk food, which takes nutrients away from your body, the law of energy balance will being to break down.
The law will not be as accurate, and you won't make very good decisions on what to change in your exercise program when using the WLC System.
There are also many other factors that go into energy balance that are constantly changing:
- All calories are not created equal. 100 calories of broccoli does not equal 100 calories of chocolate cake. You cannot eat a diet filled with bad foods and compare it to a diet filled with good foods. The body just doesn't work that way.
- The rate at which your body burns energy (your metabolism) is constantly changing. For example, your metabolism will eventually slow when you decrease calories. Your metabolism will increase when you eat more frequently. Your body is constantly changing and adapting to your diet. Your body will even adapt to more frequent meals.
- Your activity changes every day. Nothing is ever constant in the law of energy balance. You might walk around more one day and rest more another day as an example.
So, the law of energy balance is not perfect but we must use this law to our advantage. Small differences in activity and changes in metabolism aren't going to make a huge difference in the overall picture.
We must count calories each and every day and measure our activity to the best of our ability.
We can then measure body weight and body composition changes on a weekly basis.
From there, we can make adjustments to our program (adjust diet or activity) that result in weight gain or weight loss.
From there, we focus on only muscle gain during weight gain phases and only fat loss during weight loss phases. You do not want to lose muscle, and you do not want to gain fat.
By following the guidelines given throughout Weight Lifting Complete, you will be able to gain muscle and burn fat at all times.
Building Muscle and Losing Fat Are Conflicting Goals
You have now learned that in order to gain weight and build muscle, you need to take in more calories than your body requires.
Your body needs that extra energy for the muscle building process.
You can't build anything in life without energy, and the muscle building process is no exception.
You've also learned that in order to lose weight and burn body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit. Creating a calorie deficit means that you have not given your body enough energy for all of the activities it must perform.
The body has to find energy somewhere else.
This is when the body looks to body fat or muscle to use as energy.
Let's say that you want to build muscle and burn fat during the next few months. You want to do both at the same time, but you think to yourself:
“Building muscle requires a surplus of energy while burning fat requires an energy deficit. How do I do both? The two goals contradict each other!”
Everyone that has attempted to build the body of their dreams has been through this same frustrating concept more than once. You could get the body of your dreams much faster if only you could build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
I've been through this frustration many times before. And maybe you've even been there yourself.
Can you build muscle and burn fat at the same time?
Yes it is possible, but it might not be the best idea to focus your efforts on doing so.
For example, it is possible to focus on building muscle for a few weeks at a time and then switch your focus over to fat loss for the next few weeks.
So, over a 4 week period of time, you will have built muscle and burned fat at the same time.
But sometimes it's very difficult to change focus in that way. You might, for example, get great results in building muscle and strength for the first 2 weeks and then you switch your focus when you could have gotten amazing results if you would have continued.
It's not a great idea to try both in short time periods unless you're more experienced.
Get Both With the WLC System BUT Focus On One
For the WLC System, though, you will focus on only one goal at a time (building muscle OR burning fat) over a period of a few months. You will get faster overall results this way.
If you've tried to build muscle and burn fat at the same time before, I'm sure you have ended up as frustrated as I have. Results are much slower that way.
Let's pick one goal and focus on that goal.
With the WLC System, you will most likely get some of both. Almost everyone that has ever used the WLC System has been able to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
BUT, your focus should always be on ONE of those two goals at a time. Not both.
You will be using the law of energy balance each and every week while using the WLC System. During your weekly assessment, you will calculate your average daily calorie intake along with measuring your body composition changes.
Depending on your results each week, you will make no changes to your program OR you'll make some changes to your program.
The law of energy balance is an instrumental part of the WLC System. Please take the time to understand it well.