Youâve probably heard the weight-loss “rule” that it takes 3,500 calories to lose a pound.
The idea is that you can lose one pound by creating a 3,500-calorie deficit â either by urgent 3,500 calories or by eating 3,500 fewer calories.
But itâs not that simple.
How many calories it takes to lose a pound varies from person to person, and it can transpiration from week to week.
Hereâs what you need to know well-nigh calories â and how many you need to reach your goals.
How Many Calories Does It Take to Lose a Pound?
The “3,500 calories to lose a pound” rule is well-flavored considering it sounds simple â if you want to lose a pound per week, just aim for a 500-calorie-per-day deficit.
But weight loss is increasingly dynamic than that.
“Weight loss is increasingly than a math equation,” says Sonya Angelone, M.S., R.D.N., and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“For most people, 500 calories is a modest reduction and one that is realistic to maintain. However, it doesnât naturally translate to a one-pound weight loss per week,” she explains.
In fact, the 3,500-calorie rule canÂ significantly overestimateÂ the value of expected weight loss, considering it doesnât worth for important factors like the wayÂ energy expenditure can decrease as you lose weight.
“As those pounds come off, your metabolic rate goes lanugo considering thereâs less of you,â says Andrea N. Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D.
Another problem with the 3,500-calorie rule: If you tideway weight loss as a simple “calories in, calories out” equation, you may be tempted to severely restrict your calorie intake to create a worthier deficit.
But that can retroaction by slowing lanugo your metabolism, Angelone says: “Then you donât require as many calories, so weight loss will slow down.”
Dietary restriction can moreover lead toÂ decreased muscle mass, which remoter hinders your weight-loss efforts.
Rather than trying to summate how many calories it takes to lose a pound, focus on eating aÂ healthful, well-turned diet.
What Are Calories?
Short answer:Â CaloriesÂ are the value of energy a supplies or drink provides.
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One calorieÂ is the value of energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 stratum Celsius.
But the calories we see listed on nutrition labels unquestionably refer to kilocalories â the value of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 stratum Celsius.
Historically, researchers used a tool tabbed theÂ bomb calorimeterÂ to determine how many calories a supplies contained.
Now, scientists and manufacturers typically rely on theÂ Atwater system, which calculates the calories in a supplies based on the calorie values of its macronutrients:
- Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram (grams of carbohydrates in the form ofÂ insoluble fiberÂ may be subtracted from the total number of grams)
- Fat = 9 calories per gram
- Protein = 4 calories per gram
- Alcohol, aka the âfourth macroâ = 7 calories per gram
How Many Calories Should You Eat Daily?
There is no single number of calories that is right for everybody to consume, but there are formulas that can help you icon out the unstipulated range that’s right for you.
The number of calories you need each day depends on whether you want to maintain, lose, or proceeds weight, as well as various factors such as your gender, age, height, current weight, worriedness level, and metabolic health.
On average, sultana men need well-nigh 3,500 calories a day while sultana women need well-nigh 2,200 calories per day.
First things first: Itâs important to understand why we need calories.
WeÂ use the energy from supplies (aka calories) to live and breathe, grow and repair cells, circulate blood, retread hormone levels, and for many other processes that hum yonder plane when weâre parked on the couch.
These functions make up our undermost metabolic rate (BMR), moreover tabbed “resting metabolism.”
This is theÂ minimum number of caloriesÂ you should slosh each day; dipping unelevated that number can unquestionably sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
Of course, physical worriedness â whether weâre talking well-nigh mundane tasks like folding laundry or increasingly vigorous endeavors like going for a run â burns spare energy.
And genes, hormones, andÂ gut yes-man can moreover play a role in how your soul uses calories, says Angelone.
So how many calories do you need each day?
Thereâs no one-size-fits-all wordplay for this â it depends on your age, your size, how much muscle you have, your worriedness level, and your weight goals.
(You can estimate your daily calorie goal based on these factors using the National Institute of HealthâsÂ Body Weight Planner.)
Why What You Eat Matters
A calorie is a calorie, right? Well, not really. While you donât want to slosh increasingly calories than you need,Â research suggestsÂ weight loss isnât just well-nigh the number of calories you eat and burn, but moreover where those calories come from.
Letâs put it this way: Your soul will respond differently to 400 caloriesâ worth of roasted yellow and steamed veggies versus the same calorie sponsoring of soda and donuts.
“Itâs important that we segregate quality foods rather than empty calories,” Giancoli says. Otherwise, itâs easy to miss out on important nutrients.
High-quality foods â like whole grains, nuts, lean protein, fruit, and vegetables â can help support sustainable weight loss over time.
There are plenty of nutritious foods that are naturally low-calorie, like fruits and veggies.
Plus, there are smart ways to make healthier swaps for your favorite higher-calorie foods. “Calories should be based on eating a variety of healthy, minimally processed foods,” Angelone says.
Benefits of Calorie Counting
For many people, counting calories can be a unconfined starting point â it offers a form of structure, and tracking calories can help you get a handle on what you consume, how much you consume, and when you slosh it.
One of the main benefits of counting calories is that it can help you eat healthier and make increasingly informed supplies choices.
When you use an app to track your daily intake, you’ll probably be surprised to learn how many calories are in some of the foods and drinks you regularly consume.
As you wilt increasingly enlightened of how many calories are in variegated foods, youâll make smarter decisions when eating out or at someone elseâs home.
For instance, if you’re ordering a grande red eye at Starbucks (which contains two shots of espresso, whole milk, and brown sugar), this drink vacated adds up to 250 calories.
Not so unconfined if you’re trying to watch your weight or stay within a unrepealable calorie range each day.
On the other hand, knowing exactly what’s in your meals allows you to alimony track of how much protein, carbs, fat and webbing they contain as well as the value of vitamins and minerals they have.
This can ensure that your nutrition includes all the nutrients necessary for good health.
But calorie counting takes a lot of effort and time, and itâs not for everybody, Giancoli says.
And the biggest problem with counting calories, Angelone says, is that we tend to focus increasingly on numbers â not how full we are or which foods make us finger good.
Bottom line? The 3,500-calorie myth is just that â a myth.
Can a combination of eating less and exercising increasingly help you lose weight? Of course, but thereâs no perfect mathematical equation for weight loss.
For healthy, sustainable weight loss, focus on wearing out the junk, subtracting in wholesome foods, and sticking to aÂ fitness routine you enjoy.
Drawbacks of Calorie Counting
Counting calories isn’t a sustainable method for weight loss or management. When you lose weight, you can’t tell if you’re losing fat or muscle.
This is bad considering losing muscle slows your metabolism lanugo and reduces the value of calories that your soul needs every day.
Calorie counting moreover doesn’t take into worth whether you’re getting unbearable nutrients from the supplies that you’re eating and how you’re feeling mentally and physically.
A largest way to lose weight is to eat healthy foods in moderation, exercise regularly, and drink unbearable water to alimony yourself hydrated throughout the day.