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One of the most frequently held diet myths is "To lose one pound of fat you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories". This is wrong in ~ every level. Very first of all, one pound does no equal 3,500 calories, as we will present below. Girlfriend will watch this formula in government literature, in just around every diet book, in private wellness booklets and also all over the internet. The next time you watch it, or hear it, ask where it come from. You will not acquire an answer. (I request the following seven UK organisations: the nationwide Health company (NHS); the nationwide Institute because that Clinical Excellence (NICE); the department of Health; the national Obesity Forum; the Association for the study of Obesity; the brothers Dietetic Association and also Dieticians in excessive weight Management and five that these have no idea whereby it also comes from. The 2 that tried come prove that failed by a variable of about ten.) (I’ve since put this up together a full blog post).

You are watching: Calories in one lb of fat

The an initial part the the calorie formula is the assertion that one lb of fat includes 3,500 calories. You will struggle to find anyone who can demonstrate the specific calculation behind this, so I"ll offer this as a suggestion:

1) One pound equates to 454 grams (decimal areas aside, this is a fact);

2) Fat has actually nine calories every gram (this is the universally welcomed conversion, but it is one estimate and significantly rounded down from also the initial estimate);

3) person fat tissue is roughly 87% lipid (this is a widely accepted conversion, yet it is additionally an estimate).

Putting these together, we can derive the amount that 454 grams of body fat organization has approximately the calorific energy of 395 grams the pure fat (454 grams x 87%), the is 3,555 calorie (395 grams x 9).

3,555 is close sufficient to 3,500 you may think, until you view the absurdity that how exactly the formula is applied. The national Obesity Forum internet site claims "one much less (sic) 50 calorie level biscuit per day could aid you lose 5lbs (2.3kg) in a year - and also one extra biscuit means you might gain that in a year!" (Ref 1) No that won"t. I can"t also get an estimate of the formula to closer than 55 calories "out".

With small effort i can uncover evidence in excessive weight journals the fat has anywhere in between 8.7 (Ref 2) and also 9.5 (Ref 3) calories every gram. The same weight problems journal that says that person fat tissue can be 87% lipid additionally says the it may be 72% lipid (Ref 4).

Taking the extremes that these, us can create a selection whereby one lb of fat can contain anywhere between 2,843 and also 3,752 calories. Offered that the is currently held the one lb is 3,500 calorie we can (according come this formula) inadvertently gain six stone every year at the low end of the calculation and also lose nearly two stone in the exact same year if one pound is 3,752 calories. The 3,750 calorie is the assumption held in this standard article (Ref 3). Don"t worry about any that this - due to the fact that the formula doesn"t hold at any other level either. (Please watch footnote because that calculation).

Ref 1: http://nationalobesityforum.org.uk/families/before-you-start-mainmenu-110/34-how-weight-loss-works.html.

Ref 2: Dr. Geoffrey Livesey, “The Calorie Delusion: Why food labels space wrong”, New Scientist, (15 July 2009). FAO Food & Nutrition file 77: “Food energy - approaches of analysis and switch factors”, Report the a technological Workshop, Rome, (December 2002).

Ref 3: Max Wishnofsky, "Caloric equivalents of obtained or lost weight", The American journal of Clinical Nutrition, (1958).

Ref 4: Bozenraad, Deutsche Archives inner Medicine, (1911).

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Footnote

This calculation is done as follows: that assumes the a person deserve to maintain load at a daily intake that the calories assumed to same one pound of fat. If us think one pound equates to 3,500 calories and also in truth one pound equals 2,843 calories, over a year, 657 ‘extra’ calories a day, simply from the formula ‘being wrong’, would include up to 239,805 extra calories and this, divided by 2,843 offers 84 pounds, or 6 stone. Adjust the calculations for women more typically preserving at 2,000 calorie a day and men more typically in ~ 2,600 calorie a day and also the inaccuracy the the formula tho creates large disparity.