3500 calories equals one pound. Every overweight and obese person attempting to lose weight at one time hears this. But what does it really mean?
After losing over 140 pounds in 2005, I learned how to apply this scientific principle to lose weight safely without feeling deprived while eating the foods of my choice.
Food is made up of calories. Everything we eat and drink contains some calories with the exception of water. Calories are changed into energy by the body. Energy is necessary for every cell in our body to function correctly.
The science behind weight loss involves the use of a simple mathematical equation. Weight loss equals energy taken in (calories consumed) minus energy spent (calories burned), where the amount of energy spent is greater.
There are several ways to achieve weight loss using this equation. You can reduce your intake by 3500 calories through food and beverage restriction. You can eliminate 3500 calories through increased activity such as exercise routines or daily tasks. Finally, you can use a combination of both calorie reduction and elimination. My success resulted from a combination of both. In fact, best practices in weight loss and long term management rely on this combination.
How can you apply this equation to your weight loss goals? Here is an example. Say you want to lose 10 pounds. To do so, you will need to reduce or eliminate 35000 calories (10 x 3500) per month. Because safe weight loss involves losing no more than 10 pounds per month, you would need to reduce or eliminate 1167 calories per day (35000 divided by 30).
Using a food journal like I did, you would need to know the amount of calories you eat per day. After keeping track of your intake for at least 24 hours, add the amount of calories you consumed. Taking the amount of calories you ate in 24 hours, subtract 1167 from this number. This is the net amount you should eat per day for 30 days to lose your ten pounds.
For example, if your food journal showed you ate 3000 calories in 24 hours, reducing your daily intake by 1167 calories daily, you would need to net 1833 calories for 30 days to lose your 10 pounds. Of course adjustments would need to be made for your activity level. The more active you are, the fewer calories you will need to restrict from your diet to lose the same 10 pounds.
Also, it is recommended to stay above 1200 calories, unless supervised by a doctor. Very low calorie diets less than 1200 calories per day can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can harm your body in the long run.
Because weight loss is based on science, it was easy for this registered nurse to use this principle to lose my weight safely and naturally without drugs or surgery. This is the same principle I use today to maintain my weight loss after three years.