What is Energy Balance?
Energy is another word for "calories." What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT.
You burn a certain number of calories just by breathing and digesting. A big person burns more calories every day than a small person. You also burn a certain number of calories through your daily routine. For example, children burn calories being students, and adults burn calories being office workers, kindergarten teachers, construction workers, stay-at-home parents, and everything in between.
However, it is important to understand that people with physically active lifestyles burn more calories than those with sedentary or not-as-active lifestyles.
The same amount of ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT over time = weight stays the same More IN than OUT over time = weight gain More OUT than IN over time = weight loss
Your ENERGY IN and OUT don't have to balance exactly every day. It's the balance over time that determines whether you can maintain a healthy weight in the long run. And, because children need energy to grow properly, energy balance in children happens when the amount of ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT supports natural growth without promoting excess weight gain.
To give you a sense of how many calories (ENERGY IN), you and your family need, see the Estimated Calorie Requirement chart. This chart shows the calorie level health experts recommend by gender and age level, also factoring in a person's overall level of physical activity.
Estimated Calorie Requirements
This chart presents estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories and were determined using an equation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
|Estimated Calorie Requirements (in Kilocalories) for Each Gender and Age Group at Three Levels of Physical Activitya|
|Gender||Age (years)||Sedentaryb||Moderately Activec||Actived|
a These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the IOM Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. "Reference size," as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males. b Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. c Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. d Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. e The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For children and adolescents, more calories are needed at older ages. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
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