What is energy?

What is energy?

Energy, the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.

Energy is not a nutrient but is required in the body for metabolic processes, physiological functions, muscular activity, heat production, growth and synthesis of new tissues 1.

Often we hear of energy as kilojoules or calories. These terms refer to the energy we get from foods and drinks, particularly carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol. Each of these macronutrients give us a different amount of energy, with fats and alcohol giving around 2 times more energy per gram than carbohydrates and protein.

For example, 1 teaspoon of:

  • Carbohydrate (sugar) = ~15 calories

  • Fat (olive oil) = ~40 calories

  • Protein (whey protein) = ~15 calories

  • Alcohol (pure) = ~35 calories

An adult may require somewhere between 1500 – 3600 calories per day, depending on their health status and physical activity. Most guidelines work on an average of about 2000 calories per day, if the individual has a healthy weight and is exercising daily.

Sound like you?

Ever heard someone say “but I have a slow metabolism!"

Functions necessary for life are labeled as your BASAL METABOLISM. These include:

  • Cell processing

  • Synthesis of enzymes (proteins that do work in your body)

  • Hormones production

  • Transport of substances around the body

  • Maintenance of body temperature

  • Ongoing muscle function, including your heart beat

  • And not to forget the most important, brain function

For most people, basal metabolism accounts for somewhere between 45-70% of your total daily energy expenditure (also known as your BMR). Your age, gender, muscle mass, physical activity, hormone function and body size affects your this.

Physical activity is the second biggest user of energy after your BMR.

Energy is also used to digest and absorb foods. For those eating a well balanced diet, your BMR can increase by about 10% to break foods down into their individual nutrients. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Feeding.

So how much energy do you need each day?

This is determined by your age, gender, body size, muscle mass and physical activity level. If you want to get specific, this link provides you with more details on numbers.

From a non-dieting approach, I believe you are much better to focus on quality, nutrient dense whole foods, appropriate portions and a good meal and snack pattern.

4 ways to to improve your metabolism

1. Meet your nutrient requirements

2. Exercise daily

3. Get adequate sleep

4. Manage your stress