Dear Dietitian: I can’t seem to comprehend the math on losing weight :(. Where is my base starting point? I think, “Okay, there is 3500 calories in a pound (of fat) and if I only consume 1500 calories, then that leaves 2000 calories that I didn’t consume and so, I start again, the next day, with only eating 1500 calories. It seems then, that I should have lost 1 pound in 2 days, and I should actually be able to lose 3 pounds in a week!!!” But, in reality, this NEVER happens!!
What am I doing wrong? The math? Calories? Cardio?
Can you show me the EQUATION so I can program it into my brain please?🙂 -Jacqueline
Your Math and Calories are what you are doing wrong.
Though you are correct that 3,500 Calories is the known energy content in a pound of body fat, it seems you have a misunderstanding about how this number relates to weight loss.
Burning more calories than you consume is how you will lose weight.
However, the amount of calories your body utilizes in a day is probably not 3,500, as you referenced previously.
THEREFORE, if you burn 2,500 calories as a combination of daily activity but ate only 1500, you’d have a 1000 calorie deficit, not a 2000 calorie deficit as you previously thought/stated.
You asked about CARDIO affecting your weight loss. Since CARDIO is a form of activity, if you do more cardio and it can increase the amount of CALORIES YOU BURN.
To help you understand this better, try thinking of it like this.
If CALORIES EATEN is less than the CALORIES YOU BURN, then you will lose weight.
Example: 2,500 calories burned – 1,500 calories eaten = excess burned of 1000 Calories.
Since your body needs to get this energy of 1000 Calories from somewhere, it will use your body fat—body fat is how your body stores energy.
Seven days with that deficit should cause 2 pounds of fat reduction in a week. (1000 x 7 = 7,000). Which goes back to your original number about 3,500 Calories in a pound; as you can see 2 pounds x 3,500 Calories = 7,000 Calories.
Everyone is different; genetics, metabolism and activity levels. So your 100% exact and true calories burned each day cannot be predicted, but by keeping a food log and comparing it to how much weight you lose we can get close, and that will translate into weight loss! 🙂 – Debbie J., MS, RD
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