How Many Calories Equal A Pound?

How Many Calories Equal A Pound?

Calorie counting can get to be a challenge on multiple levels. If you use a calorie guide, you can look up different food items and find out how many calories are in a serving. But where do you look up how many calories equal a pound?

Theoretically, if you look at your daily consumption of food items, you can add those calories up to arrive at a daily intake amount. Then if you somehow measure your calories burned, the difference should be the number of calories left over and equals a plus or minus amount of calories.

So if you take in 1700 calories, you burn 2000 calories, in theory, you just got rid of 300 calories. And if you switch the numbers you would gain 300 calories. So now you need to know how many calories equal a pound and you can figure out how many calories you need to lose in order to drop a pound of weight.

There are a few flies in that theory. First, any calorie guide is giving your best guess. Every calorie counting reference I’ve seen has a big disclaimer and rightfully so since the serving size can never be exact. And on the opposite side, burning calories is just as difficult to measure.

So the calorie counts and the burn rate can vary a lot in any given situation. So these measurements are guidelines and not absolute. That’s the first wrinkle in calorie counting per pound.

The next problem factor is that calories are really a measurement of energy. Weight is measured by gravity. Do you see the difficulty in using two different types of measurement to come up with a realistic number?

But the weight loss industry has overcome these minor obstacles. They have developed a method of converting expended energy (or consumption of energy) to equal an amount of body weight. This method was also tested on human results to help establish real world statistics.

And this magic number is 3500 calories equal one pound based on the testing and scientific formulas. There is some substantiated testing based on a broad group of individuals to back these numbers up.

In fact, many of the realistic diet plans have shown real-world results that can relate back to these numbers. The best way to explain the findings and methods is in the example below.

Mary (our example) has just joined one of the popular weight loss programs. During her initial review, it was determined that she consumes an average of 2600 calories per day. Mary chose not to increase her exercise, rather go with a calorie reduction to start losing weight.

Mary also stated that she wanted to lose at least 2 pounds per week. Her goal is to lose about 12 pounds in the next few months. Since burning more calories was not an option for Mary, the counselor needed to reduce the calories necessary to hit Mary’s goal.

Mary’s counselor came up with a meal plan that allowed Mary 1600 calories per day. Mary agreed that this was an acceptable plan and thought she could easily stick to the meal plan for two weeks.

The way that the counselor arrived at the 1600 calories per day rate was that Mary needed to reduce her intake by 1000 calories a day in order to lose two pounds per week. So in 14 days, Mary reduced her total calories consumed by 7,000 (or 2 lbs worth of calories).

Sure enough, when Mary returned in two weeks, she had lost 2 lbs. This is just a fictitious example but there many real-world people who have the same type of results. Many of the popular diet programs have 1,000’s of case histories to back up this method.

How well this type of diet will work for you depends on some individual factors. The food used in the example was very controlled, had low calories, and proper nutrition. Mary was not terribly overweight to start with and was dedicated to her plan.

So the answer to how many calories in a pound is 3500, based on actual testing and case studies. But keep in mind that any calorie counts are not exact on consumption or burn rate. You should use them as guidelines and may need to also consider personal factors.

The best diet plan is one that you can adapt to your lifestyle and involves eating healthy and also includes some type of exercise.


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The content on this site is presented only for informational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a practicing physician.

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