The Simple Math of Weight Loss

Posted On Mar 11, 2015 By Tom Holland

The Simple Math of Weight Loss

It never ceases to amaze me how few people know the simple math behind weight loss. First and foremost, how much of a deficit in calories is required to lose one pound. I often ask this question when I am in front of large groups of people, and I am lucky to have one or two answer it correctly.

3,500 calories. That is how many calories you need to burn through exercise and/or decrease from your normal diet to lose one pound.

Most people are amazed when they learn this. When you start to clarify the process even more, including how the average person burns roughly six hundred calories when running for a full hour, then eyes really start to widen.

This simple math is why losing one to two pounds per week is the goal recommended by top fitness professionals. Don't think losing two pounds a week is a big deal? Do the math: To lose two pounds per week requires a weekly caloric deficit of seven thousand calories, or one thousand calories per day. While most people would consider a 1-2 pound weight loss per week too small a goal, when you do the math you see it's challenging yet doable. You also start to realize that big shifts in weight is often primarily fluid loss (or gain), not fat.

The best weight-loss strategy, therefore, is to utilize a combination of exercise and healthier eating, burning a few hundred extra calories each day and eating a few hundred less. This strategy is gradual and sustainable.

It's what the science says. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it merely changes forms. Energy in and energy out.

Here is a graphic of my weight loss en route to the IRONMAN African Championship. Slow and steady, and almost right on the mark:

Tom Holland Weight Loss Graphic

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