A popular myth in weight loss circles (and even with some Personal Trainers) is that to lose one pound of fat per week, you need to cut about 3,500 calories, or around 500 calories per day.  This formula originated in a 1959 paper by medical researcher Max Wishnotsky and is based on how calories are stored in the body, estimating that one pound of body weight was roughly equal to 3,500 calories.  One problem with this theory is that weight loss doesn’t stay at a constant pace over time.  This is because less energy is required to move a smaller body compared to a larger one.  As we lose weight, we end up needing less energy to exist.  This is just one of over 100 different identified factors that influence body size.

For people who are trying to lose weight, doing so quickly can be unhealthy.  You don’t have to be more strict, you have to be more patient.  Making modest adjustments, such as eating foods you enjoy in smaller portions, is a better strategy for sticking to your diet long-term.  Food quality also matters, and nutrients like protein and fiber can be helpful to keep you feeling full as you lose weight.  Exercise won’t necessarily help you lose weight, but it can help you maintain your weight loss and metabolism.

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