3500 calories to a pound

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Old 07-28-2010, 02:06 AM
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Default 3500 calories to a pound

Maybe I'm just being overly picky about this, but the I'm seeing the concept of 3500kcal/lb tossed around a lot on this forum. This is more an easy estimate than anything else, a number that seems conveniently divisible by 7 so we can gauge our caloric deficits day by day. However, I feel like there are a few thing that need to be clarified:

-When 3500 kcal/lb comes up, that lb is considered to be pure fat. So it's not about creating a 3500 calorie deficit per week to just lose a lb, but a lb of fat.

-The actual measure is 3500 kcal/ 0.85 lb of fat, or about 4091kcal/lb of fat. To lose 1 lb of fat per week the daily deficit now becomes about 585 kcal/day.

Here is one consequence of this distinction:

If you don't eat well the few days after a heavy lifting session, you can lose scale weight fast. Let's say your body burns through glycogen during your workout and you don't eat enough to replenish it. A few days later you've lost 2 lbs. Each gram of glycogen hangs on to about 3 grams of water. So we could safely say that instead of fat, you've lost .5 lb of glycogen and 1.5 lb of subcutaneous water. Because each gram of glycogen supplies on 4 calories, this gives you a caloric loss of only 910 calories. If this were all fat, it would be 8,182 calories lost.
This could help explain why some people lose a certain amount of weight, but then eat their way back to a higher weight — it's a mis-estimation of calories burned purely based on weight lost on the scale. Not saying it's the only cause, but it's a theory in the works.

Again, I'm not saying this is always the case, but it is one possible explanation.

Last edited by tandoorichicken; 07-28-2010 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:07 PM
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Hey Nick,

Such an interesting theory! never thought about it this way before! thank you for the post!
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:27 PM
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It's true, what you say. But still 3500 is still a good estimate.

There are actually people who need less than 3500 to burn a pound of fat and some who need closer to 4K to lose a pound of fat. Not everyone's body is efficient as others and some are more efficient than most.

That's why it takes trial and error to figure out exactly what you need to eat and burn in order to lose weight. The numbers fit day gives you are a decent starting point that will likely have to be modified to suit your metabolism.

As for the lifting/poor diet/glucogen thing:

Yes, glycogen is a big factor in water weight. This is one big reason why people on low carb diets can gain 5-6 pounds in a day or two once they start eating carbs again. It's also the reason that people on low carb diets seem to drop weight so fast. IMO, these kinds of diets are smoke and mirrors. You will initially lose more weight but not really anymore fat on a low carb diet. This is due to water loss. In reality, low carb diets are nothing more than low calorie diets that focus on cutting out one macro. Do they work? Sure, but it's not because of some "metabolic advantage" as some of them claim. It's because you are eating at a caloric deficit.
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:27 PM
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So, question. What is it when I eat well for 3 days with calorie deficits of roughly 2,000 (which is normally what I have) then I have one awful day with a positive difference of only about 200 calories show that I have suddenly gained 2 pounds in a day?

Then on top of that it literally takes a week to "reburn" off those two pounds. I know there is no way that I ate enough to equal a 2 pound gain in one day.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:11 PM
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Michellebelle_05 you have brought up a good one. I agree. If I look at my weight loss over 6-8 months, it is confirming what I list and shows about 2 pounds a week over the time I posted about 7,000 calories a week less that I burned with actitivites and lifestyle. BUT.. I can have a fun weekend and have a couple days where I'm showing about even calories in/out ( I don't think I have gone over since I started this adventure) and the scales show 4-6 pounds gained. I guess until your food (and drink in my case) is processed, you do not get a accurate weight on the scale. It is hard to knock those pounds off but a couple days living the straight and narrow usually take care of it.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:55 AM
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Normally when you see unexplained gains it's water weight. If you eat salty stuff, you will gain some water weight.

The other, and most common, thing is that you simply are underestimating how many calories you are eating and/or burning. This wouldn't account for a sudden gain though.

Females tend to have even more issues with this due to biology of being female.

Chances are if you put on 2+ pounds in one day it's because of water weight. Could also be that you are not weighing in under the same exact conditions (Same time of day, with same amount of clothes, and how long ago your last meal or liquids were). A single glass of water too close to weigh in could be a full pound on the scale.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:25 AM
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Well I always weigh first thing in the morning, right after I use the restroom; but I also wake up at a different time almost every morning. so that might have something to do with it.

If it is water weight... which i suspect it is why does it take so long to burn it back off?

and as for the underestimating of eating/ burning... I don't how I could be more accurate. I literally put down every single thing I eat as well as the exact times I work out. Unless fit day just has screwed over calorie counts I should be correct. I normally work out (besides my work) about 2-3 hours a day with 2 hours of that being cardio.

I just get frustrated. Especially since right now I am in a bit of a rut and am having trouble getting out of it.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Michellebelle_05 View Post
Well I always weigh first thing in the morning, right after I use the restroom; but I also wake up at a different time almost every morning. so that might have something to do with it.

If it is water weight... which i suspect it is why does it take so long to burn it back off?

and as for the underestimating of eating/ burning... I don't how I could be more accurate. I literally put down every single thing I eat as well as the exact times I work out. Unless fit day just has screwed over calorie counts I should be correct. I normally work out (besides my work) about 2-3 hours a day with 2 hours of that being cardio.

I just get frustrated. Especially since right now I am in a bit of a rut and am having trouble getting out of it.
Well, it can take 3 days or more to release the water. Not sure exactly why and it varies from person to person. Sometimes what happens is people eat salty food frequently so, they may be dumping water and picking up new water right afterward so you don't notice any weight change.

The best way to get rid of it is to flush it out by drinking water. The same thing happens with carbs. If you've been eating relatively low carb (intentionally or not) over a few days and then have a plate of pasta one day you will no doubt see an increase in weight the next day. This is because carbs often are turned into muscle glycogen and glycogen holds water in the muscle. Now, when you exercise and particularly lift weights, gylcogen is burned and the water flushes out.

What I mean by over estimating is that Fitday is just estimating the calories of a lot of items. Lets say you are eating pasta and Fitday says 200 calories per serving. Perhaps the box for the item says 250. Chances are the box is more right. The Fitday nutrition info is just the average for that item,it may be more or less depending on brand and variety. I always enter what the box says if it differs from fitday.


Most often a weight gain while being on diet (no cheat) is attributed to carbs and sodium. However, over a few days you should flush out the extra water.
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:06 PM
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Thanks Tandoorichicken and Stocky1 for the insight.

Unless you are competing in a bodybuilding competition, you do not need to get so stressed out over how many calories in a lost lb.

The 1st main rule is calorie spent per day has to be more than calorie intake per day.

The 2nd main rule is - eat smart (within your calorie daily intake), excercise, sleep, de-stress.

If you are going to start worrying about 10 or 20 calories per day, you are going overboard.

Again, this is only my opinion.

It's all a journey, enjoy it!
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:35 PM
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@tandoorichicken
Great post! Good discussion. Love it.
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