Weight Loss: Rethinking Calorie Counting

caloriesIf you have ever opened a weight-loss app or planned a diet, you have probably heard of the calorie-counting rule to produce weight loss. The old rule says it takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to produce one pound of weight loss. This rule has been around for more than 50 years and followed by many. Problem is, it’s wrong.

The rule dates from a research article posted in 1958, and concluded that a 500-calorie deficit per day would produce a loss of one pound a week. The rule stuck and many conventional weight loss plans still use it today.

The numbers are actually pretty accurate, if you are burning a pound in a chemistry lab. When was the last time you went to workout in a lab with scientists?

Your body has many reactions to changes in calories, carbs, fats, proteins, and even your hormones. All of these reactions tend to work against you when trying to lose weight. As a result, shorting 500 calories every day has a lowered effect every single added day. Day 2 is less effective than 1, day 3 is less than 2, and so on.

Last summer, the National Institutes of Health unveiled a Body Weight Planner that allows individuals to plot a realistic weight-loss strategy. The weight loss tool is built off a database of strict, well-controlled studies where researchers could monitor both calories consumed and physical activity in a realistic setting.

These studies discovered that over the course of the first year, individuals would actually lose only half the weight that the 3,500-calorie rule predicts. Beyond that, it showed how individual a weigh loss program is. The most overweight people will lose the most weight in the first months, while the leanest people will lose the least. That’s why the “last five pounds” are always the toughest.

While this might be depressing news to some, it is less devastating than starting a diet plan and getting subpar results. If you are ready to drop some weight, all hope is not lost. Use the tools such as the Body Weight Planner and talk with your health professionals to determine the best course of action.