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What Is An Energy Audit? And How To Do One.

Have you not been gaining, losing, or maintaining weight as you’d like?

If so, it’s probably time to run an energy audit. 

We use these with clients who are stuck or have not been seeing the results they would like for the work they have been putting in. 

It can also be used for people who are new to tracking and/or took some time off of tracking for a period of time. 

It can be easy to get into a routine and then start to overlook certain things so an energy audit can be useful there to help you recalibrate things. 

What is it?

An energy audit is used to see how much energy a client is expending and eating as it can be easy to overlook certain things, especially if progress has slowed. 

For example, maybe you started tracking at one point then got into a routine so you stopped weighing things out, tracking certain foods etc. 

It is typically done when a client is: 

But it can also be done when they are: 

For the latter two, simply tracking everything you eat for 3-7 days can be enough and getting your steps for those days as well. 

See what your weight does then make any adjustments you need to. 

If you are gaining but want to maintain, then cut back on some foods. 

If you are losing but want to gain, then you need to add some foods in. 

Let’s dive into how we run an energy audit with clients. 

Consistency

This is the most important. If you aren’t seeing the rate of gain, loss, or maintenance as you would like the first thing to look at is the consistency to your nutrition goal. 

If thats off, this needs to get worked on before you make any adjustments. 

If you only track (or whatever your nutrition goal is) less than 90% of the time, then do that first. 

Chances are thats the main thing that is off. 

Recently my weight was creeping up a little faster than we wanted for my building phase. 

Rather than make nutrition adjustments my coach told me to ensure I tracked 6-7 days versus 5x per week. 

I did that, and then things slowed down to the rate we wanted. 

Activity levels

The next thing to look at is activity levels. 

I like to do this via steps as this gives you a good idea of what your activity looks like as a whole. 

If you are trying to maintain or lose and this is below 6k, that typically is the first move and we increase by 1-2k.

What I see happen a lot is someone might be doing a lot of workouts, but if your overall activity levels are low you might be shooting yourself in the foot. 

For example, someone will say I do cardio 6x a week and weight train 4x per week. Im doing enough. 

But what ends up happening is their overall activity levels fall off. So you think you’re burning the same amount of calories but since your overall activity levels fell so did the number of calories you were burning throughout the day. 

From here we look at some things that we can either get lazy with or overlook: 

Serving sizes

It’s easy to get into a routine with tracking and then just wing your serving sizes. This can add up over time.

 

As you can see, what looks like the same amount of food (or close to it) can be off by hundreds of calories depending on the food. 

Something like broccoli isnt going to make a big difference, but going from one serving of something like peanut butter to two can make a big difference and add up. 

The moral of the story is dont stress about getting your veggies and fruits to the exact gram, but the foods you would typically keep out of your food log because they are less “healthy” are the ones you need to pay more attention to serving size wise because those calories can add up.

It can be a good idea to weigh out your servings and recalibrate if you haven’t weighed anything out for a few weeks. 

You might be putting in 1 serving of peanut butter,but it could be 2. And then if it’s happening with other foods it can add up.

You could weigh your foods out for a week or two, then cycle off and then come back to recalibrate every so often or on an as needed basis.  

How to weigh your food here: 

Condiments and low cal/zero cal items

Make sure you log your condiments and/or start to weigh them out on a food scale. 

Be careful with low cal/zero cal items as some of these can have calories in them. 

Certain low calorie/no cal drinks/foods can sometimes have calorie amount of like 25 calories or so. 

If you do enough of them throughout the day thinking they dont have calories you could add hundreds of calories to your total intake. 

If you are trying to maintain or lose weight this could be the difference in seeing weight loss or none if done regularly. 

Drinks

Most people forget that drinks have calories in them. Make sure you account for these. 

Yes, alcohol counts. 

These are especially troubling because they typically have no nutrients and just add extra calories that dont fill you up. 

I am always shocked by how many people dont account for drinks when it comes to tracking. 

Snacking/grazing

Have you let some snacking and grazing into the picture?

Or maybe you forget about it because it’s just a handful here and there. 

The problem is that these types of foods are energy dense and add up quickly. 

Be honest with yourself here. 

This again can add hundreds of calories with minimal to no satiety and it ends up causing you to maintain your weight when you think you should be losing because My Fitness Pal says youre eating 1,200 cals. 

Meals out at restaurants. 

While tasty eating out regularly is a recipe for eating more calories than you think.

You have to remember that when you go out to eat the goal is to get you to come back. This means there is likely to be more calories than you think through things like oils and butters. 

Not to mention the serving sizes are off. 

I had a client who worked in the restaurant industry tell me that the serving sizes were literally different every single time. 

Chances are if it says something has “x” amount of calories, it likely is off. 

If you have been eating out 2-3x per week or more, you might want to reduce that a bit if you havent been seeing the results you want  

Sleep/stress

If either of these is off they could be impacting how much or how little you eat.

Make sure you are managing your stress and make sure you are getting good sleep. 

Poor sleep and chronic high stress can affect your insulin sensitivity which means your body may be more primed for fat storage. 

Read this article HERE about if sleep increases how much you eat. 

Summary

Now you have the tools to run an energy audit. 

If you are finding yourself not seeing the results you want you should run one of these. 

9 times out of 10 you will find one of these are off and they were playing a role as to why you weren’t seeing the results you wanted. 

If you find that none of these are off you might just need to make an adjustment with your nutrition or activity levels which you can find HERE for fat loss, and HERE for building. 

If you would like to get more accountable and structure with your training and nutrition, check out our 1:1 coaching service HERE

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