Energy Gap: A Useful Tool For Successful Weight Loss
The term energy gap is used to estimate the change in energy
balance (intake and
expenditure) behaviors required to achieve and sustain reduced
body weight outcomes in
individuals and population at large. Many people have achieved significant
weight loss with
intervention, but very little of this
weight loss seems
be maintained by most people over the long term. The energy gap can help
estimate the degree of behavior change that must be maintained to maintain a
given amount of weight loss for any individual.
The two key factors related to the energy gap concept: prevention of
excess weight gain and maintenance of achieved weight loss. It is
estimated that the energy gap for
prevention of weight
gain among those who have lost weight is about 100 kcal/day in adults and
100-150 kcal/day in children and adolescents. Any combination of increased
energy expenditure and decreased energy intake of 100 kcal per day in adults and
100-150 kcal/day for children and adolescents could theoretically prevent
weight regain in 90% of
the population. This suggests that this small changes approach could be
very effective for preventing excessive weight gain in adults and children.
Five ways to trim 100 calories from food
Swap an 8-ounce regular soft
drink for a diet
Drink 2 cups of fat-free
milk instead of 2 cups of whole milk.
Use 1 teaspoon of mustard or
ketchup or 1 tablespoon of fat-free mayonnaise in place of 1 tablespoon of
Split a small bag of French
fries with a friend.
Slice a typical piece of
apple pie about one-third smaller.
Fifteen ways to burn 100 calories through physical activity
Pedal an exercise
for 13 minutes.
Hiking up hills for 15
Cleaning the garage for 15
Practice some fast
dance steps for 16 minutes.
Work in the garden for 18
Swimming leisurely for 20 minutes.
Playing tag with the
grandkids for 20 minutes.
Mowing the lawn (using
motorized mower) for 20 minutes.
Walk briskly for
22 minutes (3.5 mph).
Clean the house for 25
Golfing (using a cart) for
Yoga for 30 minutes.
Fishing (from a riverbank)
for 30 minutes.
Walking the dog for 50
Putting away the groceries &
Light housekeeping for 40 minutes.
The energy gap to maintain weight loss is generally much larger, amounting to
200 kcal/day for a 100 kg person losing 10% of body weight or 300 kcal/day for
the same person losing 15% of body weight.
According to James O. Hill, PhD, "This analysis indicates that to create and
maintain substantial weight loss (ie,
treatment), large behavioral changes are needed. This is in stark contrast to
primary obesity prevention in which small behavioral changes can eliminate the
small energy imbalance that occurs before the body has gained substantial
weight. Because the body has not previously stored this 'new' excess energy, it
does not defend against the behavioral strategies as happens when the body loses
The energy gap concept is useful for individualizing behavioral strategies
for weight loss maintenance. For example, if the energy gap for a given
weight-loss maintenance is estimated to be 300 kcal/day, this can lead to a
specific individually tailored goal for changing
diet and physical
activity rather than generic advice to eat less and exercise more. This could be
300 kcal/day of additional physical activity, a reduction of 300 kcal/day from
usual energy intake, or a
combination of tactics such as adding 150 kcal/day of
physical activity and
reducing 150 kcal/day from usual energy intake.
You can just take a walk in the park for 45 minutes and
expect to burn 300 calories.
Watching your calorie intake and burning off calories will help you get rid
of body fat and prevent
undesired gain in weight.
Dated 15 March 2014