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It's been estimated that the 3,500-calorie rule is cited in more than 35,000 educational weight-loss sites.1 In September, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a patient handout titled Healthy Weight Loss, in which the first sentence states, "A total of 3,500 calories equals 1 pound of body fat. This means if you decrease (or increase) your intake by 500 calories daily, you will lose (or gain) 1 pound per week."2 Undoubtedly, the 3,500-calorie dogma still is being taught even though it's been shown that it simply doesn't work this way. So where did the 3,500-calorie weight-loss wisdom come from? It originated from researcher Max Wishnofsky, MD, in 1958, who calculated that 1 lb of fat stores approximately 3,500 kcal of energy.3 It was appealingly simple, and it stuck.
A calorimetry machine can show how many calories people burn when resting. This is called their basal metabolic rate. The machine measures carbon dioxide, which is the waste product from food the body burns as energy. Other accurate methods of estimating calorie expenditure use air or water displacement technology. You've probably heard that there's 3,500 calories in a pound, meaning that's what you'll need to cut in a week to lose a single pound. That's generally used as an estimate, but weight loss is trickier than just cutting out 500 calories per day. That idea was determined in 1958, but research has since shown that weight loss is more complex.
This is because you don't lose one pound of fat—which is what we ideally want—when you lose weight. Instead, you lose a mix of lean tissue and water too, meaning it might take more calories to lose a single pound of fat, according to Mayo Clinic. Some estimates show that there's somewhere between 3,436 to 3,752 calories in one pound of fat, reported Healthline. And as you lose weight, you might need to decrease calories further if you experience a weight loss plateau.One important thing to realize is that body fat isn’t just fat. Pure fat contains approximately 9 calories per gram, which would mean that a pound of pure fat would equal around 4,100 calories. Body fat, however, is a mixture of fat, fluids, and proteins, which is why it comes in at an estimated 3,500 calories per pound. (Source: www.verywellfit.com)