Anyone who has ever before even thought about going top top a diet or shedding weight has heard of the idiom “3,500 calories amounts to 1 lb of load loss.” So, what walk that in reality mean? prior to we get into that, that is crucial to understand the principle of the regularly dreaded “calorie.”


A calorie is just a measure of a unit of energy. In its most scientific definition, a calorie is the lot of energy that is compelled to advanced the temperature that 1 gram that water by 1 degree Celsius. Since energy is only transferred – it can not be developed or damaged – scientists use what’s called a bomb calorimeter. Essentially, food is burned inside of the bomb cell and also scientists keep in mind to what level the temperature the the surrounding water increases. Pretty fancy and intricate way of counting calorie – thank goodness because that food labels.

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Bomb Calorimeter

However, the calories the you see noted on a food label space in bigger systems – time 1,000, in fact. They room denoted through a capital “C” – Calorie, or in the research civilization known together a kilocalorie (kcal). However, because that ease the this article, calorie and Calorie will certainly be used interchangeably.

So, where carry out we acquire calories? These tiny tasty majority of energy come from our macronutrients, which incorporate carbohydrates, fats and also proteins. So whatever else – because that example, vitamins and also minerals – perform not contain any type of energy and therefore carry out not add to our caloric intake. This power we consume is either burned to fuel us through energy, or the excess the stored. The can’t just dissipate into thin air. So those French fries you just had actually at lunch are either going towards your practice or her thighs.

The expression “3,500 calories amounts to 1 lb of load loss” then method that in bespeak to lose 1 pound of weight, one must create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. The is necessary to cite that in this conversation, we are talking around total weight loss including both fat and sometimes also muscle.

Let’s to speak you want to shed 1 pound of body load per main (1-2 pounds per week is encourage to optimally maintain the load loss). Through this logic, girlfriend would need to cut out 500 calories every day from your full calorie intake (3,500 calorie deficit / 7 days every week = 500 calories per day). If you are eating a typical 2,000 calorie diet, that method in stimulate to lose 1 lb per week, friend would have actually to shift to only consuming 1,500 calories every day, consistently. Also further, if you want to lose 2 pounds that body weight per week, these numbers would double.

What walk the scientific research say?

In a 2013 examine by thomas et al., researchers performed a meta-analysis of 7 weight loss experimental trials to determine whether the 3,500-calorie dominance to predict weight loss to be a feasible estimate of actual load lost. Regardless of the common use the this rule by anyone from personal trainers to governmental dissipated information, these researchers concluded that the 3,500- calorie rule and the consequent predicted weight loss is in reality a gross evaluate of actual weight loss. Let’s take a watch a small further.

If you are looking to lose weight merely by to reduce calories, and not necessarily by transforming your exercise routine, girlfriend may have to use a greater caloric deficit. However, there are some issues here. Reducing calorie by much more than 500 calories every day – let’s say 600 every day, i beg your pardon would provide you a 4,200 calorie weekly deficit —can command to an unfavorable metabolic effects that are often connected with starvation.

This may encompass pulling a greater part of body load from your muscle and also bone – and also we recognize that greater muscle massive keeps ours metabolism high. So us don’t want that. Your resting metabolic rate (the calories the you burn merely sitting there) may likewise decrease since your body is do the efforts to preserve itself. Your body precise thinks the you space trying to kill it since you space restricting the of the calories the it needs to survive. For this reason metabolism will slow in bespeak to maintain the minimal energy resources that it has actually floating around.

Protein and also exercise

There are a pair of various other options, though. One is to rise the lot of protein you are eating. Protein is recognized to rise metabolism and contribute to boost in muscle protein building, and at some levels in part populations starts to sluggish down muscle protein breakdown. Protein is additionally known to be lipolytic – it helps transport stored fat from her fat cells into the blood and also then potentially into muscle organization to be offered as energy (what you understand as fat burn). Protein is also anti-lipogenic; it block the expansion of fat cells. Dual bonus.

Lastly, friend can include an exercise regimen or boost the soot of the one friend are right now performing.

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Take-home message: if you space looking to shed weight simply by restricting calories, a 3,500 calorie weekly deficit might not be sufficient – you must consider including protein to your diet or transforming up your workout routine!

Brittany Allman is a Ph.D. Candidate in exercise physiology in ~ FSU, a certified sporting activities nutritionist, and an exercise and also nutrition enthusiast.