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How Many Calories Are in a Pound?

Article by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Daily Calories Equals Pounds

There are 3,500 calories in a pound.

In order to lose OR gain one pound, an individual must either subtract or add 3,500 calories from their diet. Notice that we didn't say 'from their daily diet'.

Unfortunately, it takes more time to drop pounds than it does to gain pounds. Most dieters feel at one point or another that they are 'pounding off the pounds', particularly when slow peaks of weight loss occur - such as when they feel 'stranded and straddled' on the notorious weight loss plateau.

Diet Bites has developed one of the safest (and best) methods for determining calorie needs for weight loss based on the '3,500 calories equals a pound' fact:

Add up daily calories over a period of three days (as closely as you can).

This can be accomplished by label-reading, referring to nutrition guides (particularly when fast food dining) (simply ask the happy order-taker  for a nutrition guide)  and by using the calorie charts (links located below) at Diet Bites which detail calories in common foods.

Next, compare the daily totals and answer the following questions:

Are the daily calorie intake totals within a few calories of one another?

If so, use the 'lowest total' daily calories as your starting point when dieting. Simply subtract calories to drop pounds. How many calories? The number of calories subtracted will depend upon the total calories and the individual's recommended weight. Here is an  example:

- Dieter Jim adds up everything that he eats & drinks  over a period of three days. He estimates his calorie totals as follows: 3,675 calories, 3,600 calories and 3,700 calories. Dieter Jim will use his lowest daily calorie intake of 3,600 to calculate calories for his diet plan.

Next, Jim determines his recommended weight by using this at Diet Bites and determines that he should weigh 175 pounds.

How Many Daily Calories Will Jim Need?

Jim uses this to determine his recommended daily calorie intake for 175 pounds. Because Jim has a small frame size, he determines that he will require 2,275 calories per day to maintain a weight of 175 pounds.

Next, Jim weighs and determines that he is in need of losing 25 pounds. So how many daily calories will Jim need and how long will it take him to lose 25 pounds?

Dieter Jim subtracts the recommended 2,275 daily calories  from 3,600 daily calories which he is currently consuming to equal a NEW daily total calorie intake difference of 1,325  calories. It will take Jim approximately 3 days to drop one pound OR about 1 week to drop 2 pounds.

Diet Bites strongly feels that one of the best methods of dropping pounds is to determine the daily calories needed to maintain an individual's recommended weight (or healthy goal weight) and to simply stick to consuming the recommended daily calories.

Dieters tend to get things backwards - picking a daily calorie total that is well below what they will need to consume once they achieve their weight loss goal.

By consuming the recommended calories for the recommended weight, the weight loss occurs naturally.

Other perks include: the individual has no need to 'retrain' their eating habits because they have established such throughout the dieting process the body is less stressed throughout the weight loss process because nutrition needs can be easily met weight loss plateaus are kept at bay via gradual and natural weight reduction.

Other useful weight loss links at Diet Bites that Jim can use to assist him in meeting his 175 pound recommended weight include:

Food Group Servings | Serving Sizes Guide

Are the daily calorie intake totals separated by several hundred  calories?

For example, if your daily totals resemble something to this effect: 2,200, 1,500 and 3,000 - then add up ALL the calories and divide them by 3 to determine a starting point (the average daily calorie intake equals 2,233 calories). Next, follow the steps that Jim used above.

Daily calorie consumption recommendations from the USDA are as follows:

Seniors - 1,600 calories per day

Children - 1,600 calories per day

Inactive women - 1,600 calories per day

Inactive men - 2,200 calories per day

Moderately active women - 2,200 calories per day

Teenage Girls - 2,200 calories per day

Teenage Boys - 2,800 calories per day

Active men - 2,800 calories per day

Active women - 2,800 calories per day

Pregnant & lactating women - 2,200 to 2,800 calories per day

The above recommended daily calories are provided as a pattern by the USDA but due to individual needs, the recommended calories are not perfect for everyone. For example, a 6-foot tall active senior male will require far more than 1,600 calories to meet daily nutritional needs.

Another example is the 'active women - 2,800 calories per day'. I am 5' tall and very active, but if I were to consume 2,800 calories per day, I'd pack on pounds at the rate of 3,500 calories equals one pound!

Given these examples, it's always best to meet with your personal doctor, nutritionist or dietitian when determining daily nutritional needs.

And as a note, an individual should never attempt a diet which is extremely low in calories.

Those 1,000 calories diets recommended by many a doctor in my former fat days were crawling with nutritional deficiencies and served more to slow down my metabolism than to strengthen it - as well as my body.

Should your doctor recommend a diet which is extremely low in calories, please determine the reasons why and if there are medical circumstances involved, it's important to insist that you be closely monitored.

Other factors that influence individual weight and daily calorie needs include: activity level, age, gender, muscle mass, health and environment. 


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