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Energy Homeostasis and Energy Balance

Energy balance represents the balance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Science states that about 60% – 70% of our daily energy expenditure is covered by maintenance (energy homeostasis) and that physical activity only takes up about 30% – 40%, at least for most of us.

Energy Balance

Energy Balance








It seems we don’t eat only when we are hungry but often appetite is driven by cravings, habits, the availability of food, or other social and emotional factors. People can have an appetite without being hungry. Otherwise, nobody would order anything from the dessert menu! You can also have no appetite for food even though you are hungry, which may happen in a stressful situation or during an illness.

Do you know why eating vegetables causes satiation?

Vegetables are generally very bulky having a high water and fiber content and carrying strong sensory attributes. Eating vegetables seems to cause satiation. Texture is as important when it comes to satiating properties of food, as well as its nutrient and water content.

There is evidence to support the fact that eating an apple is more satiating than drinking apple juice prepared in a blender using the entire apple. Also, observations say that energy beverages ingested very quickly do not make people eat less of other foods thereafter, and this might be due to the fact that calories ingested quickly are not properly sensed.

Chewing (prolonging the exposure time to food) causes people to stop eating sooner and therefore consume less energy in total.

The findings suggest that consumption of sugar-containing beverages may lead to overeating, and thus may contribute to the growing occurrence of obesity in many countries. Energy from fluids is less satiating as opposed to energy from solids and consumption of sugar-containing beverages may promote overeating. These facts are not accepted by the beverage industry (and by some nutrition scientists), although it seems that some companies are starting to give in and accept the notion.

Physiological, sensory, psychological, and social factors determine when and how much we actually eat, all depending on the time of the day, social setting, mood, food availability, lifestyle, etc.

Sensory factors: The combination of taste, smell, sight and sometimes sound of a food plays a major role in food intake. We tend to eat more of a food if we like it very much and we tend to avoid foods that do not look, smell or taste well. Chefs highly regard optimising the sensory attributes of foods by maximising their appeal sometimes with heavy investments.

Social factors: In some European cultures – Netherlands, for instance, bread is eaten for breakfast, as well as for lunch, and meat, potatoes and vegetables for dinner, while other cultures – Asian, for instance – rely on rice alone as staple food. Social factors also involve social setting. When in company of others during meals, we tend to eat more than we would normally do if eating alone. The social setting can also be an obstacle towards improving dietary habits: if people in the social setting resist dietary changes, it becomes difficult for an individual to alter their dietary habits as well. On the other hand, we use food for social bonding and for special celebrations. Just think about Christmas dinner!

Psychological factors: psychological stress has a major impact on our food intake. People experiencing it may lose their appetite, while others may increase their food intake for comfort, known as stress/emotional eating causing major weight gain in some individuals.

Physiological factors: “our physiological needs dictate food choice. Our desire for food is driven by the evolutionary need to supply our bodies with nutrients and energy so we can survive, propagate, and pass on our genes to our offspring. As a result, our bodies have evolved complicated feedback mechanisms active at the short term and at the long term that lead to hunger sensations and trigger food seeking behaviour when food intake and energy supplies drop. The precision of these mechanisms is illustrated by the fact that in many people, long term food intake nearly perfectly matches energy expenditure, indicating the existence of overriding physiological feedback mechanisms that resist large fluctuations in body weight.” (Nutrition and Health Course – Wageningen University, Netherlands)

Best ways to increase our energy expenditure?

  1. By building muscle or
  2. By being more physically active.

Obviously, the two are somewhat interrelated.

Many people experience that by reducing your energy intake, the weight loss progressively slows down. Do you want to know why? Coming up soon! Stay tuned!

Energy Balance

Building Muscle


*Nutrition and Health – Part 2 Course – Wageningen University, Netherlands

*Introduction to Health and Wellness Course – Arizona State University

*The Science of Everyday Thinking Course – The University of Queensland, Australia

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