Calories Per Pound Of Fat

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Combine Calorie Reduction With Exercise

How Many Calories to Lose 1 Pound of Body Fat?

If you don’t have the time or energy to burn 500 calories a day through exercise, you could use a combination of calorie reduction and exercise. For example, if you burned approximately 300 calories every day through exercise, you would also need to reduce your recommended calorie intake by 200 calories each day.

Of course, it’s important to figure out how many calories you need each day, because everyone’s needs are different. This weight loss calculator will give you a estimate of how many calories you should consume to achieve a goal weight.

Do You Really Lose A Pound Of Fat For Every 3500 Calories You Burn

Years ago, scientists played around with a pound of squishy, slimy human fat and found that it contained 3,500 calories of energy.

Butsorry to break it to youburning a pound of fat isn’t as simple as burning through 3,500 calories.

Consider the following and infuriating scenario: Two men go on an exercise and eating plan so that they consume 3,500 fewer calories per week than they burn. One man has five pounds to lose the other has 50. At the end of one week, the leaner guy might lose about half a poundand a third of the weight will be from muscle. Meanwhile, the obese guy will have lost more than three pounds, mostly from fat and water.

From the Editors of Details

“There’s tremendous variability in how a 3,500 caloric deficit affects different people,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science adviser at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix.

Why’s that? Well, one huge factor determining the results of our dieters is body composition. “The more fat a person has to give, the quicker he will lose weight and weight from fat,” Peeke explains. Meanwhile, when you get closer to your body weight, your body holds on to fat stores for dear life and sacrifices muscle over fat, she says. The body is perpetually afraid that it will starve it’s perhaps biology’s least-sexy-ever survival mechanism.

Meanwhile, how you try to hit your caloric deficit has a huge impact on whether you lose weight from muscle, fat, or just water.


How Many Calories Per Pound Of Fat Tissue

Traditionally, 3,500 has been the magical calorie deficit needed to lose a pound of body fat. This value stems from nascent research back in the mid-1950s and became widely accepted in the ensuing decades .

But here’s the catch: The static rule of 3,500 calories per pound assumes that you’re losing weight at a 3:1 ratio of fat tissue to lean tissue. This also assumes that the body fat loss is 87% pure fat content . Fat cells may contain anywhere from 72% to 87% fat by mass .

Therefore, a 3,500-calorie deficit translates to 0.75 pounds of adipose tissue , 72% to 87% of which is pure fat, and 0.25 pounds of muscle mass lost using the assumptions above. Yet, recent studies have challenged the static model of weight loss given the dynamic relationship between energy balance and body weight .

Notably, body composition doesn’t change linearly. Research has shown that the percentage of weight loss from adipose tissue increases non-linearly with body fat percentage .

It’s also well-known that weight gain in the form of muscle tissue is limited by diminishing returns . Muscle tissue is more metabolically demanding than fat tissue therefore, lean, muscular individuals tend to have a higher basal metabolic rate than those with less muscle tissue and more body fat.

Healthy weight loss reducing body fat and maintaining lean body mass takes time. Cutting calories aggressively and doing hours of cardio every day isn’t always prudent to lose weight and improve body composition.

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How To Take Your Measurements

Our weight loss calorie calculator needs up to four of your measurements: height, neck, waist, and hips, to determine the percentage and mass of body fat which is integral in estimating the number of calories you need to forgo on a daily basis in order to achieve weight loss. Here is how to take the measurements, using a soft measurement tape:

  • Height: step on a flat surface that is perpendicular to a wall, column or a door frame. Look straight ahead. Get an assistant to place a ruler or another straight object on the top of your head so it is horizontal and mark the point at which it touches the wall, column, etc. Step out and measure the height from that point to the floor.
  • Neck: measure just inferior to the larynx with sloping slightly downward to the front .
  • Waist: measure at the widest point of the abdomen, at the level of your naval .
  • Hips: measure your hips at the widest point below your waist, while keeping your feet together for an accurate measurement.

You can use both centimeters and inches to record the measurement, since our software supports both units. Accuracy to the nearest half inch or within 1 cm should be sufficient.

It is recommended that you wear minimal clothing during the measurement. It is also recommended to have your measures taken by an assistant, since if you are taking them yourself you will not be fully relaxed and may be twisting your body and skewing the results.

When It Comes To Losing Weight Easy Does It

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The size of your caloric deficit affects how fast you lose weight, with larger deficits leading to faster weight loss.

Yet experts typically agree that losing 2 lbs per week is the healthiest and most sustainable pace of weight loss, Wilson explains. If you are losing more than that in a given week, it is likely that you are significantly cutting into your lean muscle mass. By lowering your metabolic rate, this sets you up to eventually regain all of the weight you lost, and possibly then some. When losing more than a couple of pounds per week, youre also at a higher risk of not having enough macronutrients or vitamins and minerals in your diet, explains Greaves. Thats not because fast weight loss itself deprives the body of nutrients but because, when cutting calories to a point that such rapid weight loss is possible, overall food, and therefore nutrient intake, can be unhealthily low. A study published in January 2018 in Nutrients analyzed three commercial diet plans designed to result in rapid weight loss, and authors reported that participants experienced deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin D, B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc.

However, even with a conservative caloric deficit of a few hundred calories per day, if you are drastically cutting down on processed foods or carbohydrates, you may quickly lose water weight, Greaves says.

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Problem #: Weight Isnt Only Body Fat

The 3500 calorie rule applies strictly to one pound of body fat.

The problem, however, is that we track losses and gains of body fat by tracking our body weight, and weight can be a lot of things besides strictly body fat.

For example

  • Stomach Content

Why does this matter? Because we never lose or gain only body fat. The other things on this list are constantly being lost and gained right along with it.

For this reason, our body weight rarely changes at a perfect 1:1 ratio to our body fat. In fact, it can sometimes be off by a significant amount.

For example, its extremely common for a person to lose body fat but yet see their body weight stay exactly the same or sometimes even go up! In many cases, this scenario can last for weeks at a time thereby causing the person to falsely believe their progress has stalled all while fat is still being lost just fine .

Whats happening in this scenario is that they are gaining something else that is counterbalancing their weight on the scale , thus preventing their fat loss progress from actually showing.

This is why its so common for people to gain 2-5lbs overnight after one bad day of eating. Theyll then think oh no, I gained 2-5lbs of fat in a day!!when in reality, all they actually gained is 2-5lbs of temporary water weight because theres no way they ate the insane 7000 17,500 additional calories necessary for 2-5lbs of actual body fat to be gained in a 24-hour period.

How Fast Does Muscle Burn Calories

Its often said that muscle burns calories faster than fat.

But is this really the case, and if so, what does that mean for weight loss goals?

Well, in short, its true that muscle burns calories faster than fat. This means that if you want to put yourself on the right track for accelerating weight loss then youd be well-served to build muscle first.

How many calories does a pound of muscle burn?

Specifically, a pound of muscle will burn 6-7 calories every day at rest.

So does muscle burn more calories than fat?

Yes, a pound of fat burns three times less than a pound of muscle.

So that means everybody trying to lose weight should run to the gym and lift weights then, right?

Well, yes, but the effects might not be quite as drastic as some would have you believe.

In the muscle vs fat calorie burn debate, muscle definitely comes out on top, but it isnt a miracle solution unfortunately.

Theres no doubt that packing on muscle can indeed speed up the weight loss process, but it isnt going to make you shed pounds of fat overnight. Its still a slow process, but one which has the edge over aerobic exercise.

The best thing about strength training is that it can also bring about afterburn which is a state in which your body will continue to burn calories hours after youve completed your workout.

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Doing The Math With A Bmr Calculator To Make Weight Loss Work For You

To lose a pound, you need to have a good idea of how many calories you burn on an average day. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average adult woman expends roughly 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, and the average adult man uses 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Yet age, activity level, body size, and body composition all influence how many calories a person burns through each day.

Once you know your current daily caloric requirement, you can create your own formula for losing weight. Simply put, as long as you are eating fewer calories than that number, or you increase your daily caloric burn with exercise, you will lose weight, explains Audra Wilson, RD, CSCS, a bariatric dietitian and strength and conditioning specialist at the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Illinois.

For example, you might eat 500 fewer calories, work off 500 more calories through exercise, or do any combination of the two actions to achieve a deficit of 500 calories. For example, you might choose to eat 250 calories fewer than your daily caloric requirement and then do a workout that burns another 250 calories, she says.

In terms of the 3,500-calorie rule, that would mean that if you achieve that 500-calorie deficit at the end of each day, you would lose 1 lb of fat in seven days. Unfortunately, that equation tends to oversimplify and overestimate losses, so dont expect to lose that much that fast.

Is This Answer Correct

How Many Calories To Gain a Pound

Although the 3500-calorie rule is based on reality, it doesnt reflect all the factors of human biology. There are several reasons why modern researchers say that you shouldnt rely too heavily on this rule.

The first reason is the fact that the body does not use fat as its sole source of energy. When the body experiences an energy deficit, it will do everything in its power to fill that void. In doing so, it will burn not only fat but also muscle and other lean tissue.

You may have wondered what people mean when they talk about burning fat. Those people are talking about a biological process called Catabolysis, whereby the body begins to feed on tissues other than fat. However, here is where we run into an issue. Catabolysis only occurs when the body is totally depleted of other nutrients. This can take as long as two months to begin happening at a significant level. Therefore, this criticism is not particularly valid.

The average person will never experience levels of hunger that are severe enough to cause this problem. However, Catabolysis can also be caused by protein deficiency. Protein is the basic building block of all muscle tissue and the main component of your bodys muscle repair system. Therefore, a low-protein diet might cause this issue to become real and valid. Also, there is a small amount of muscle Catabolysis that can occur even if the body is not in a starvation state.

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Does One Pound Of Body Fat Contain 3500 Calories

In 1958, a scientist named Max Wishnofsky concluded that the caloric equivalent of one pound of body weight lost or gained was 3,500 calories .

He based his conclusion on the scientific evidence available at the time. Decades later, his result has been cited thousands of times by the media and in scientific literature (

10 ).

This estimate seems to work fairly well in the short term, for moderate weight loss in people who are overweight or who have obesity. But it falls apart in the long term and sets people up for failure and disappointment.

What this myth does not account for is the bodys response to the changes in body composition and diet .

When you reduce calorie intake, your body responds by making you burn fewer calories. You start moving around less, and the body becomes more efficient. It does the same amount of work, but it uses fewer calories than before .

You may also lose muscle mass along with the fat, which also makes you burn fewer calories.

This is often called starvation mode, although the technical term is adaptive thermogenesis (


The 500-calorie-deficit diet overestimates the potential for weight loss. It does not account for changes in body composition and a reduction in calories burned.

How Many Calories To Cut To Lose Weight

According to the 3,500 calorie hypothesis, creating a 500-calorie-per-day deficit should lead to a loss of one pound per week. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that this rule significantly overstates how much weight a person will actually lose.

In the short term, you may be able to lose weight at a pound-a-week rate. But as your body composition and metabolism change, the rate of weight loss may slow as well.

The basic 3,500-calorie deficit calculation does not account for how your metabolism changes when you are trying to lose weight. You may need even more of a calorie deficit to see weight loss as your efforts progress.

Because you are losing muscle mass as you are losing body fat, your metabolism can begin to decrease, thus lowering the rate at which you burn calories.

This is why as you lose weight and exercise more, you find yourself hitting plateaus where weight loss tapers off. There are also metabolic, behavioral, neuroendocrine, and unconscious mechanisms at play that can encourage your body to maintain a certain level of fatness. Researchers say this this concept, called adaptive thermogenesis, creates the ideal situation for weight regain.

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Increase Your Calorie Burn

Exercise is an important part of weight loss, but it’s not a magic bullet. A safe, healthy weight loss rate is about one to two pounds per week. If your weight loss is faster than that, you may be losing too much muscle mass in addition to fat.

The amount of calories you burn depends upon a variety of factors, including:

  • Activity of choice
  • Level of effort
  • Time spent exercising
  • Your weight
  • Your current metabolism

To burn 500 calories in a day by running, for example, you would need to run about five miles, since the average runner burns about 100 calories per mile. If you are heavier or work harder during your workout, you will likely burn more. If you are lighter or work less intensely, you will probably burn less.

Are There 3500 Calories In A Pound

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There are about 3500 calories stored in a single pound of body fat. This old rule is not a myth at all. Its absolutely true.

But heres where things get a little complicated, because while the 3500 calories = one pound rule is indeed true, it rarely works out that way in the real world.

Heres why.

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How Many Calories Do You Have To Burn To Lose 1 Pound

Heres how many calories you have to burn to lose a pound of fat: In 1958 Dr. Max Washnofsky wrote a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stating that a pound of body weight is equal to 3500 calories. While this is a correct estimate in a lab, it is not so in the human body which is a complex system.

The reduction or burning of 3500 calories might be accurate for each of the first few pounds you lose, but after that its a little more complicated.

Thats because the actual number of calories that you need to burn to lose a pound of fat depends on a number of variables including: your metabolism, amount of exercise, and your diet.

That means the idea that by eating 3500 fewer calories you will lose a pound of weight is largely a myth.

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