The Pursuit Of A Healthy Body Weight : Strategies To Change Your Body Composition

By far the most common question we are asked here at Discount Supplements, in a roundabout way, is ‘How can I achieve more muscle in relation to fat’? Well the answer to this isn’t a straight forward one, but mercifully, the theory is relatively simple. Bear with me here… ‘Calories’, whether we like it or not it’s these units of energy that are key to whether we gain or lose weight.

Energy Balance

In order to lose weight, your calorie intake has to be lower than your calories spent. In other words we need to burn more calories than we consume, placing our bodies in a state known as ‘negative energy balance’. Conversely, should you wish to gain weight then you need to consume more calories than you burn, placing you in ‘positive energy balance’. You’ve probably got the jist, but if you want to maintain your current weight whilst performing a constant level of physical activity, then you need to be in ‘neutral energy balance. So the theory is simple right? Now for the application!

The ‘positive’ & ‘negative’ energy balance rule 

You might have heard that if you consume 500kcal less a day, you will lose 1lb a week, and to an extent this theory holds true, but does this mean that if you continued to do this for the rest of your life that you would eventually waste away to nothing…well, of course not. Conversely, it was suggested that if an average person consumed just 100kcal e.g. a single chocolate digestive biscuit, above their nutritional requirements everyday over a 40 year time period, that eventually the person would gain approx 190kg during that time, yup, 190kg…but clearly this wouldn’t happen, and I’ll explain why. Tipton & Luc van Loon (2013) explain that the bodies metabolism eventually balances out, as you gain weight inherently your energy expenditure increases until it gets to a point that it balances out with the extra 100kcal consumed. The person would reach energy balance and stabalise at the elevated weight. So irrespective of calorie composition, energy balance and body weight reaches a point of equilibrium.

Increase muscle to fat ratio

The theory is simple, but the application is a little bit more dynamic, what I’m saying is that by changing one factor on the ‘energy in’ side of the equation also effects things on the ‘energy out’ side. When it comes to increasing muscle to fat ratio you need to consider macronutrients, which include carbohydrate, protein and fat, and you must consider the ratios you consume these in. You may have heard some gym enthusiast speak of ‘macro’s’ and how they are getting in a 40 : 30 : 30 macro ratio…but what does it actually mean?

The role of Macronutrients A.K.A Macro’s 

The manipulation of macro’s is important because it changes the thermic effect of food and substrate oxidation during exercise, in other words the type of food you eat will effect your body composition in different ways. The composition of the calories you consume also includes alcohol which per gram is higher in calories (9kcal) than both protein (4kcal) and carbs (4kcal), second only to fat which delivers 9kcal per gram. Protein requires more energy to be broken down than both fat and carbs, consequently the thermic effect of protein is higher meaning you will theoretically burn more calories than if you consumed carbs or fat.


Tipton, K, D & Luc van Loon, J, C. (2013). Nutritional Coaching Strategy to Modulate Training Efficiency. Nestle Nutrition Institute WorkshopSeries / Vol. 75

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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