Energy Balance and Performance

Nutrition plays a vital role within our daily lives and performance. The type, amount, and timing of our food intake all have the potential to influence performance outcomes. Before we can dive into these aspects, it’s important to first understand energy balance and what macronutrients are.  

Energy Balance

Active Energy Expenditure that helps with Energy Balance
Active Energy Expenditure to Monitor Energy Balance

Essentially, energy balance is related to both our energy intake and total daily energy expenditure. Energy intake involves the amount of food we consume, whereas total daily energy expenditure is the total amount of energy that we expend in a day. These two aspects play a role in whether our energy balance is completely equal, positive, or negative. Let’s break down each type of energy balance and how it relates to performance and health overall.

Energy Balance (Equilibrium)

A true energy balance is when we consume enough food to meet our daily energy expenditure needs. 

Positive Energy Balance

When we consume more food than we are expending, we are in a positive energy balance. When we are in persistent periods of a positive energy balance, an increase in weight can occur along with the development of health-related conditions.

Negative Energy Balance

When we do not consume enough food to match how much our bodies are expending, we will have a negative energy balance. Persistent periods of a negative energy balance can lead to weight loss and unwanted physiological effects. More specifically, performance outcomes can become negatively affected due to a sustained negative energy balance.

Examples of how a negative energy balance can potentially impact performance are:

  • Increases risk for injury
  • Illnesses
  • Lengthy recovery periods
  • Decreased performance overall

When we expend a signifanct amount of energy daily, it’s important to be aware of the energy intake necesary to maintain that balance. Monitoring your energy balance aids in preventing injuries and illnesses, promotes proper recovery, and ultimately allow you to advance your training.

Monitoring Energy Balance

Due to the role energy balance plays witin our performance, it’s crucial to monitor this aspect of your training. One way we can begin monitoring a portion of our total daily energy expenditure, is by keeping track of the active calories measurement during your workouts. COROS watches provide an estimated amount of calories that are burned during your recorded workouts that you can use to help estimate your daily energy intake needs. It is important to note, that your physical activity is just one component that makes up total daily energy expenditure. However, it is important to monitor the energy expended during a workout, because this will greatly impact your daily needs.

Breaking Down Macronutrient

Now that we have an understanding of energy balance and how it can play a role in performance, let’s go ahead and break down how specific food intake is impacting our performance as well. More specifically, macronutrient intake in relation to performance. Below, you will find macronutrients and a brief description of their functions. 

Carbohydrate

  • Provides energy for the contracting muscle.
  • Important fuel for our brain.
  • Used for short, intense bouts of exercise (sprinting down field, 1RM, etc) 

Fat

  • Fuel source for endurance exercise, along with carbohydrates.
  • Fat intake is required for optimal health.
  • Used for long duration exercises (ex. Long distance running).

Protein

  • Muscle building and recovery

A few important aspects of macronutrients to consider include:

  • Specific food sources
  • Amount of food intake
  • Timing of food intake.

These aspects are heavily dependent on what type of activity you are doing, what your performance goals are, and personal preference.

Conclusion

It’s clear that there is a lot to cover when it comes to nutrition and performance, but having a grasp on energy balance and macronutrients provides a good start. For now, begin monitoring how much energy you’re expending during your workouts to have a better idea of how much you should be consuming daily to optimize performance. In addition to this, pay attention to the few aspects discussed regarding macronutrients. You will be seeing more topics related to macronutrient intake in the future!

Michelle Singleton
Michelle Singleton

Michelle has a diverse background in the exercise and sport science world. She is currently finishing her PhD focusing on Human and Sport Performance, with additional backgrounds in athletic training and nutrition. In addition to this, she is a certified and licensed athletic trainer, personal trainer, and educator. She utilizes her extensive education and clinical experience in athletic training, nutrition, and exercise science to help guide and educate others.

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