How Many Calories Should We Eat During Weight Loss

Most health professionals recommend a much less drastic energy reduction coupled with exercise for weight reduction. Rarely are energy levels restricted below 1,000 to 1,200 calories. You can begin by using the equations provided earlier in the chapter to identify a calorie level that is right for you. Then calculate the calorie level that will allow you 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week.

The golden rule of dieting states that to theoretically lose one pound of body-fat tissue, you need to create an energy imbalance of 3,500 calories in the favor of weight loss. Since 1 pound of fat weighs 454 grams and because fat cells are roughly 86 percent fat, to lose a pound of fat it would require about 3,500 calories:

454 grams x 0.86 = 390 grams of fat x 9 calories = 3,510 calories.

Therefore to reduce body weight by a pound of fat per week, an individual would need to create an energy imbalance of 3,500 calories per week favoring weight loss. Dividing 3,500 calories by 7 days, one would need to create an average energy deficit of 500 calories daily. To lose two pounds, create a calorie imbalance of 1,000 calories daily.

Increasing physical activity throughout the day as well as exercising can account for a lot of the calorie imbalance. Table 8.6 provides the approximate number of calories expended during various activities and exercises. For example, a 185-pound man walking at a 5 mph pace for 60 minutes would expend about 600 calories of energy.

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