This question stems from the need for an overweight person to lose pounds. To put it more clearly, how many calories are required to be lost to lose one pound of fat or one pound of body weight.

You should read about calories, what they are, and how they affect your body weight.

How many calories lost help you lose one-pound body weight?

One pound of body fat contains about 3500 calories. In other words, there are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat. If you burn 3500 calories more than your calorie intake, you will lose one pound.

Please note that though we refer to calories here, in fact, they are kilocalories.  Why this is done is explained in the post on calories.

Obviously, it is not possible to lose 3500 calories or one pound in one day, and therefore it has to be planned over a period.

Ideally, the period to lose 3500 calories and subsequently one pound should be one week. So, if you reduce 500 calories per day, which is possible, you should achieve your target in one week, with a little give-and-take. Following this guideline

  • It will take you 5 weeks to lose 5 pounds, and
  • 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds.

However, if you want to lose weight faster, you can lose more than 500 calories per day by following a more rigid weight loss program. Just make sure you do not under nourish and overexert yourself. A medical checkup and opinion are always advised before you take up on losing weight.

This estimate works well over the short term for overweight or obese people trying to achieve moderate weight loss. Over long-term, the weight loss results aren’t that good.

This is because over time, as you reduce your calorie intake, your body burns fewer calories for the same amount of work than before.

This happens due to the body burning muscle mass along with fat tissue for energy and the muscle contains much fewer calories than fat. This is called the body’s starvation mode.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you lose no more than two pounds per week. This will keep you from gaining weight for a longer time.

Secondly, if you decrease your calorie intake drastically, the body will react by slowing down your metabolism and will store the foods in the body to prevent starvation.

Guidelines to lose those extra calories and pounds

Two things you should do daily to achieve this goal:

  1. Consume fewer calories by eating low-calorie but nourishing foods. All you have to do is replace the high-calorie foods you have been eating, with low-calorie foods.
  2. Increase your physical activity to burn more calories through daily exercises.

1) Eating fewer calories – Broad guidelines

  • Eat grilled, baked or roasted. If you have to fry, use olive or canola oil only and that too in minimal quantities.
  • Stick to only whole grains
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Drink only skimmed milk and choose only low-fat yogurt and curds
  • Eat fish
  • Choose only lean meat
  • Eat chicken or turkey without skin
  • Eat only one egg per day or two eggs without the yolk
  • Drink 12 to 15 glasses of water daily. Do read the benefits of drinking water.
  • As a beverage, coconut water is good – contains only 46 calories and keeps you full.
  • If you must have tea or coffee, have them without sugar and milk – the calorie content is almost nil

Reading these posts will help:

  • Diet to lose weight explains the above points in more details. It also tells you what foods to avoid.
  • Calories in common foods will tell you the number of calories in various foods. This will help you keep count of your calorie intake.

2) Increase physical activity

Now, besides decreasing your calorie intake, you should also increase your physical activity to burn your calories. You do this best by exercising every day. To lose weight, aerobic exercises are preferred.

  • Brisk walking will help burn 350 calories in one hour
  • Swimming will burn 800 calories in one hour
  • Cycling will burn 50 to 800 calories in one hour depending on the speed of cycling.
  • Read exercises to lose weight for more details.

Remember the simple principle: To lose weight, calories burnt should be more than the calories consumed.

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