Week 8 Fuel Insight: Energy Balance

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ESSENTIAL ELEMENT:  Caloric Energy Balance

Critical Concepts:  Optimal energy intake and output
The human body functions best with a net zero or net negative energy (cal) balance. We are faced with the perfect storm of obesity today.  The confluence of three factors has created the obesity and sickness pandemic that is sweeping our nation:  first, choosing to consume foods that are inherently toxic to our cells; second, the deficiency that results from making these toxic choices instead of eating the healthy foods that our bodies require; and last, the resulting energy imbalance that is a consequence of our relatively sedentary lifestyles.

The divorce that now exists between energy acquisition and energy consumption has led to an energy imbalance – better thought of as an energy crisis – that has produced the greatest threat to mankind’s health today: chronic disease.  Although we have been designed to adapt magnificently to famine, we have no physiological defense against abundance and abuse…except intelligence and free will.

Every cell in your body is stuffed with a genetic legacy that has been shaped over thousands of generations by successful adaptations to environmental stressors and the behaviors that promoted survival and reproduction.  One key behavior that left an indelible imprint on your genetic owner’s manual is movement.  The most active humans won in the greatest contest known to man:  life.

We must recognize that in our modern industrialized world, most things are done for us.  Previously obligate activities like running down your lunch are no longer on your daily planner.  We must remember that “busy” does not equate active.  In fact, busy usually equates “stressed” – which in turn means more chronic low-grade inflammation.

Our ancestors moved as if their lives depended on it – and today, ours still do.  If you wish to be truly healthy, you must become truly active.

If you are trying to lose pounds to reach your Ideal Weight, there is one equation that you must understand:  calories consumed – calories burned = calories (weight) lost or gained.  We do not promote that you spend a lifetime counting calories and measuring food.  In fact, we promote the opposite for the long-term.  But, we do recommend building a critical skill set:  the ability to eyeball your food and have a working estimate of its caloric value.  If you gain an understanding of the caloric value of your typical foods along with an understanding of the caloric value of your typical exercises and activities, you will be empowered to influence your body weight and overall health.

An excess of calories triggers the release of Insulin – the Fat Storage Hormone.  Remember, chronically elevated insulin is the enemy.

When it comes to food and longevity, the research shows that reducing your (net) calorie intake increases the length of your life.  The Bonfire Ideal Dietstyle promotes balancing the energy budget of your body by increasing your activity output first and then looking at your caloric intake.  A good rule of thumb is to eat enough to fuel an active life and support plenty of lean muscle mass – and no more.

Best practices for achieving your ideal weight include simple things like using smaller plates, smaller portions, or pouring yourself a serving instead of eating out of a bag.  Avoid mindless eating – sitting in front of the TV while snacking is a fast track to over-eating.  Be careful who you eat with.  The research shows that your company can influence your portions by as much as 100% or more.

Keeping a food log and activity journal has been proven to be a vital behavior to those trying to master their energy balance.  Understanding the number of calories in our foods and activities is a powerful way to make the “invisible” visible.  When people realize that they would have to spend 66 minutes on the treadmill to burn off the blueberry muffin that they’re considering, they tend to make better choices.

Summary Checklist: At this point you should be:

  • Drinking adequate water
  • Eating plants first
  • Eating lean cuts of high quality protein
  • Consuming high-fiber, whole food carbohydrates
  • Increasing your healthy fat intake
  • Taking your Bonfire Essential Supplements
  • Taking 3 deep breaths before you eat to reset your state
  • Maintaining a net zero or net negative calorie/energy balance