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How Many Calories Do You Need to Burn to Lose a Pound?

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If you want to lose weight and reduce body fat, you need to use more calories than you consume, creating a so-called calorie deficit. This is usually done by reducing the calories you take in, increasing the calories you burn, or both. To lose a pound, you need to burn the same amount of calories contained in that pound.

The popular advice has long been that you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat to lose a pound. Then, to do this in a week, you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. However, research has proven that weight loss is more complicated than this basic calorie deficit formula.

How many calories are in a pound?

Traditionally, many weight loss plans have been built around the 3,500-calorie concept. This concept is based on the assumption that one pound of fat equals about 3500 calories.

The idea behind a 3,500-calorie deficit first began in 1958, when a doctor named Max Wishnofsky published a paper suggesting that creating a calorie deficit in this amount would equate to one pounds weight loss. This idea has been cited in other studies, as well as in thousands of popular articles on weight loss.

To date, studies have challenged this basic formula. Researchers have proven that creating a calorie deficit causes more than just fat loss. Muscle is also lost as calories are burned.

Since muscle burns more calories than fat, the eventual loss of muscle can have an impact on your overall metabolism.

One important thing to realize is that body fat is more than just fat. Body fat is a mixture of fats, liquids, and fat-free solids. So the actual calorie content of a pound of fat actually depends on the composition of that fat, which can vary.

How many calories to lose weight?

Under the 3,500-calorie hypothesis, creating a 500-calorie-per-day deficit would result in a pound-per-week loss. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that this rule is significant contaminate How much weight does a person actually lose?

In the short term, you can lose weight at a rate of one pound a week. But as body composition and metabolism change, the rate of weight loss can also slow down.

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The basic 3,500-calorie deficit calculation doesn’t take into account the changes in your metabolism when you’re trying to lose weight. You may need more calories to lose weight as your efforts progress.

Because you’re losing muscle mass when you’re losing body fat, your metabolism can start to drop, thereby slowing the rate at which calories are burned.

This is why as you lose weight and exercise more, you find yourself reaching a peak where weight loss fades. There are also metabolic, behavioral, neuroendocrine, and unconscious mechanisms that may encourage your body to maintain a certain level of fat. This concept, known as adaptive thermogenesis, creates the ideal situation to regain weight, the researchers say.

How to achieve a calorie deficit

While the 3,500-calorie rule may not be entirely accurate, it is true that losing weight requires burning more calories than you consume. There are several things you can do to achieve this calorie deficit.

Reduce your calorie intake

Reducing your calorie intake for the day can be an important part of any weight loss plan. However, it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to run efficiently.

Cutting too many calories can slow your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight. High-calorie restricted diets can also lead to additional muscle loss, which can hinder your weight loss efforts.

Eat a balanced diet, even if you are cutting calories. Eliminating empty calories from junk food and focusing on nutritionally dense calories can help.

Increase your calorie burn

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

The amount of calories you burn depends on many factors, including:

  • Choice activity (type of exercise you do)
  • Level of effort (speed, intensity)
  • Gym time
  • Your weight
  • Your current metabolism

For example, to burn 500 calories in a day by running, you would need to run about five miles, as the average runner burns about 100 calories per mile. If you weigh more or work harder during your workout, you’ll likely burn more. If you’re lighter or work less intensely, you’re likely to get burned less often.

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Combine calorie reduction with exercise

If you don’t have the time and energy to burn 500 calories a day through exercise, you can use a combination of calorie reduction and exercise. For example, if you’ve burned about 300 calories per day through exercise, you’ll also need to reduce your recommended calorie intake to 200 calories per day.

Of course, it’s important to figure out how many calories you need each day, as everyone’s needs are different. This weight loss calculator will give you an estimate of how many calories you should consume to reach your target weight.

Why is muscle important?

To boost calorie burning, add strength and speed training exercises to your workout routine. One of the benefits of strength training is that building more muscle will increase your calorie burn, both while you’re working out and when you’re resting. If you train your strength immediately after a hard workout, you’ll be able to use your next day off as a real recovery day.

Increasing your protein intake and gaining weight regularly can help you lose more weight, reduce muscle loss, and even gain more muscle. Since muscle requires more calories than fat, increasing your muscle mass will also help boost your metabolism.

You don’t have to lift heavy to get the benefits of strength training. Try doing some simple exercises like core exercises or lower body moves a few times a week.

High-intensity interval training can also help kickstart your weight loss efforts by increasing calorie burn. If you’re not ready for such strenuous training sessions, focus on short periods of more intense exercise during your workout. For example, you can cycle between spending 30 seconds working at full effort and then slowing down for a few minutes a few times during your workout.

A very good word

While the old 3,500-calorie deficit rule isn’t entirely accurate, this doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Cutting or burning 500 calories a day may not lead to exactly one pound per week weight loss, but it’s still a good starting point for weight loss.

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Remember not to focus too much on the number on the scale. Try to pay attention to your overall feelings. Use measurements other than weight, such as inches lost or clothing fit, to mark your progress. You can gain more healthy muscle even if you lose fat.

frequently asked Questions


  • How many calories do you have to burn to lose 1 pound a week?

    Traditionally, weight loss plans were based on the assumption that you needed to reach a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week (or 500 calories per day) to lose one pound per week. But more recent evidence suggests that everyone’s numbers may vary slightly. Also, the calorie deficit that worked for you at the start of your weight loss plan may not work for you later in your weight loss plan.


  • How many calories should you eat a day to lose weight?

    The number of calories you should consume depends on several factors including your current body size, age, gender, and activity level. You can use the calorie calculator to estimate your calorie needs.


  • How many calories do you naturally burn each day?

    Your total calorie intake is a combination of your resting metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn from physical activity (both exercise and non-exercise), and the thermic effect. of food (the number of calories needed to turn food into energy). Everyone’s number is different. The simplest way to burn more calories each day is to be physically active.

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