Body Composition

In this chapter you will learn about:

  • Energy balance.
  • Estimating energy expenditure.
  • Body composition and body fat distribution.

Maintaining a healthy body weight and body fat percentage is one of the best practices to ensure optimal health, fitness, and physical performance. The best way to maintain a healthy body weight and body fat percentage is to follow sound dietary practices and to engage in physical activity. These practices will also promote muscle endurance and strength, improve cardiorespiratory conditioning, and provide a solid foundation for optimal physical performance. In addition, people who maintain a healthy body weight have a lower risk of developing psychological problems related to low self-esteem and low self-image. All of these issues are relevant in maintaining military readiness, force health protection, and in promoting optimal health of military personnel. This chapter introduces you to the basic concepts of energy balance and body composition.

The difference between energy intake, how many kilocalories (kcal) we eat, and energy expenditure, how many kcal we burn, is termed energy balance. Eating the same number of kcal as you burn leads to a net energy balance of zero, and your current weight is maintained. Eating more or less kcal than you burn leads to positive (weight gain) or negative (weight loss) energy balances, respectively. See Figure 1-1.

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