The New Calories per Pound of Weight Loss Rule
64 Comments


“The New Calories Per Pound
of Weight Loss Rule” If the “3500 calories per pound”
weight loss rule is bunk, what’s the alternative? How many fewer calories
do you have to eat, or how many more do you have
to burn, to lose a pound of fat? There are validated mathematical
models that take into account the dynamic changes that
occur when you cut calories, such as the metabolic slowdown, and they’ve been turned
into free online calculators that you can use to make
personalized estimates. There’s the Body Weight Planner
from the National Institutes of Health and the Pennington Biomedical Research
Center’s Weight Loss Predictor out of Louisiana State University. Here are the two direct links. Here are some shortened URLs
(in parenthesis under each link) The NIH Body Weight Planner has
been found to be more accurate, since the LSU model appears
to overestimate the drop in physical activity, but they both have
their own pluses and minuses. The Body Weight Planner tells you
how many calories you need to restrict and/or how much more
exercise you need to do to achieve a specific weight
loss goal by a specific date. If you click on the “Switch to Expert
Mode” button you can get a graph, and exportable chart showing your
day-to-day weight loss trajectory. So if you’re a middle-aged,
sedentary average height woman, obese at 175 pounds, who wants to be
closer to her ideal weight within a year, 2000 calories a day would
prevent future weight gain, about 1400 calories a day would
bring your weight down like this, and then you could maintain that
lower weight at 1700 calories a day. If, in addition, you
walked a mile a day, it would give you a little
more calorie leeway. The LSU Weight Loss Predictor,
on the other hand, doesn’t allow you to tweak
physical activity, but the advantage is that you don’t have to
choose a goal or time frame. Just put in different calorie changes
and it graphs out your expected course. Is there any easy rule
of thumb you can use? Yes. Every permanent 10-calorie
drop in daily intake will eventually lead to about
one pound of weight loss, though it takes about a year to achieve
half the total weight change and about three years to completely
settle into the new weight. So cutting 500 calories a day can
cause the 50-pound weight loss predicted by the 3500 Calorie Rule,
but that’s the total weight loss at which you plateau,
not an annual drop, and it takes about
three years to get there. A 500-calorie deficit would be expected
to cause about a 25-pound weight loss the first year, and then an additional
25 over years two and three. That’s only if you can maintain
the 500-calorie deficit, though. If you’re eating the same diet that
led to the original weight problem, but just in smaller servings,
you should expect your appetite to rev up about 45
calories per pound lost. So if you were cutting 500 calories
a day through portion control alone, before you were down
even a dozen pounds, you’d feel so famished that you’d be
driven to eat 500 calories more a day and your weight loss could vanish. That’s why if you’re dead-set on
eating the same diet, the same foods but just in smaller quantities, you have
to cut down an additional 45 calories per pound of desired weight loss
to offset your hunger drive. So to get that one pound off, instead
of just 10 calories less per day, using the 10 Calories Per Pound Rule,
you’d have to eat 10 calories less on top of the 45 less to account for the
revving of your appetite, so 45 +10=55. So just changing diet
quantity and not quality, it takes 55 calories less
per day to lose a pound. So that 500-calorie daily
deficit would only net you about a 9-pound weight loss
over time instead of 50. That’s why portion control methods can be such a frustrating
failure for so many people.

64 thoughts on “The New Calories per Pound of Weight Loss Rule

  1. Whole food plant-only diet will slim you down. For those training for muscle mass growth – -> don't forget your beans, oats and other high protein plant sources. That's my experience for what its worth. Good luck all.

  2. So these calculators can also predict weight gain I guess, I should check them out, my health app doesn´t seem to get the right results, thank for the info doc.

  3. It would be nice to spin this good information into a positive message which had examples of positive results. Just sayin!

  4. On a bit different topic: The reality is that anyone wanting to be thin simply cannot eat fast food or regular restaurant meals. You just can't do it. So just write them off. Most of those meals are an entire day's worth of calories (at least for me…just ONE fast food meal). And how common is it for people to eat out at least twice in a day? No wonder people are fat. I've sworn off fast food. I can literally gain 2-3 stubborn pounds by just including fast foods in my diet two days in a row. This violates so many laws of physics, I can't even tell you. But it's true. The fat bloat is real!

    So I just cook at home. Mostly vegan, mostly starch (thank you, Dr. McDougall, you're pretty cool too, Dr. Greger). And lift a lot of weights. This has kept me stable, though I still chase the cut with endless frustration.

    I did find another very interesting violation of fat physics, only the opposite…I can lose two pounds of hard to gain back pounds by just 24hrs on olives, avocados or guacamole, and nuts. I realize this is technically vegan keto, and I hate keto diets, but when I just can't take the bloat anymore, I just pop a few olives and nuts, and I'm good to go with ZERO appetite for HOURS. I can then fast for 24hrs with next to no hunger snacking on a few bites of delish guac as I go. This is not unlike Dr. Longo's Prolon Diet, but much, much cheaper and easier. I have no explanation for why two pounds disappear in only one day and stay gone for a week before they come back, but they do.

    I only mention these things because there is definitely more going on than just calories in calories out. So much more.

    Thank you for the calculators! I already see that they don't match my reality AT ALL. If I ate 2100 calories a day – like it says I should, to maintain my weight – I'd be big as a house. So I don't know where they get that…..and I pump! Damn! It's so unfair! I will try their suggestions for increasing activity and see if it really will help me drop 15lbs of fat in 90 days…I'm curious to see.

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  6. I'm losing weight faster on more calories than the NIH model. I think I'll stick to eating what feels reasonable and see how loose my belt gets.
    Perhaps I'm a massively inefficient cyclist …

  7. My upcoming book, How Not to Diet, is all about weight loss and how to break the diet-cycle. It’s available now for pre-order (https://nutritionfacts.org/how-not-to-diet/) and will be out on December 10. (All proceeds I receive from my books are donated to charity.)

  8. This is for my friend who is over weight, constantly on newest diet but never successful.
    It drives me crazy when she says “ oh, I can’t eat mango because they are so high in sugar and you know, sugar is really bad for you” (while she is reaching for a hunk of brie)🤦‍♀️

  9. Thank you so much for posting this video it's really good to see the actual science behind this. At my gym we talk about the 3500 calorie rule and I think it might be a good way to simplify understanding weight loss, but you can't over simplify anything that happens in the body. I am going to start using these calculators instead of the formula that I have been using to calculate calories for people! Thank you!

  10. I just lost 50lbs in the last 6 months. Went from a 47 inch waist to 37. 36% bodyfat to 20%.

    I never worry about portion control. Ever.

    I only eat two meals a day though. Lunch and dinner. Sometimes just dinner bc I do keto and I am just not hungry as often eating a low glycemic diet.

    But that does not mean I live on bacon and cheese.

    I may do 7 cups a greens in a salad w cheese and an avocado and nutts for desert.

    Greens greens and more greens. Healthy keto.

    Oh and my bloodwork just got taken 6 months into keto and it was the best it has been in years and years. No issues. Healthy. Doctor is very happy with my changes.

  11. Just eat LOW fat whole foods as much as you want and exercise more, that’s my opinion and experience non-professional advice. I’ve seen others excel as well. It not hard. People want a complicated answer…but the answer is so simple.

  12. Are there that many fat people that so much research is wasted on them? I for one am tired of you tube videos on weight loss techniques.

  13. The NIH calculator shows losing 2.5 pounds the first day while only dropping 1600 calories from maintenance intake level on the track of going from 225 to 170 pounds in six months. Something is not adding up.

    This is with a zero percent change in physical activity.

  14. This is a well documented presentation Michael … for those who have neglected their physical condition and well being, and consequently become unhealthily overweight. However, since the vast majority of the American social order falls into this category, this is useful information to learn and follow. It is unfortunate that most folks neglect, and thus disrespect, their physical condition and health, which in turn leads to a significantly shortened life for many due to health and disease issues that arise because of their unhealthy lifestyle choices. For a person to have to continually be using these tables and calculators seems to be quite a bizarre way to live, taking much enjoyment out of life because nearly all of us love to eat. If people start their physical well-being strategies while young (early twenties), and implement sound dietary and fitness models early-on, then they remain in healthy physical condition from the start, thereby totally eliminating the need for this unnatural micro-managing with calculators and restrictive food intake. We are a nation obsessed with this weight loss mentality, which leads to these mathematical assessments to change our prior poor habits. We all make our own choices in life, and we consequently all earn our own personal consequences, so making wise health and fitness choices as a young adult (or even better as a teenager), allows for a life where eating in a manner that promotes our health and functional longevity is normal daily behavior, and frees us from the masses who turn to these calculators to dig themselves out of a hole that they created through their life choices. It all comes down to a basic respect for life, which starts with our own personal bodies. If we don't respect ourselves enough to remain healthy and fit, which most folks don't, then we end up on a yo-yo regimen of weight gain/weight loss, becoming fatter and less fit as the years roll by, with less lean muscular tissue, and we fall victim to all the popular short-term (and often unhealthy) diets that prey on the needs of the overweight populous, knowing full well that most of them will fail. What and how we eat should ideally be a lifestyle, leading to optimum health, fitness, and longevity – not a temporary now and then thing to make up for daily eating indiscretions. Thanks for helping those who have not placed their personal health as a high life priority.
    steve

  15. New Nutrition Facts videos are always one of the most interesting parts of my day! Thanks Dr. Greger! 😄🥦🍎

  16. The NIH says I need to eat 300 C/day to loss weight! I have never eaten more than 2200 C/day and my weight never when down. So, this claim that 500 C/day is not effective can be false as well!

  17. This makes sense to me. I'm curious though – let's say that you in order to lose all the weight you ended up limiting calories to 1400 per day. You mentioned that it takes about 3 years for your body to settle into the new weight. If you don't increase your activity level does this mean that you have to say at 1400 calories for the rest of your life or can you increase your calories somewhat after the 3 year settling in period?

  18. Get the Bodyfast app for your cellphone, choose a plan and fast, drink water and avoid carbs, sugars and meats, eat healthy and it'll just work well.

  19. I have a hard time understanding why someone would need to use any of these measures unless you are an athlete that needs to be a specific weight. IMO anyone that needs to be exact on every calorie and pound has much bigger issues than their weight.

  20. This is starting to make sense why my weight plauted. I lost 40 pounds but still have a bunch of abdominal fat that I can't get rid of no matter what. I hardly do any exercise, and work from home so l don't walk a lot. The last year I've been in a complete plateau no matter what I try. I even switched my breakfast from oatmeal to fruit only, but nothing. Recently I cut all nut butters, dates and avocados in the hope that it will trigger weight loss again. But these formulas show that even then its going to be max 2 pounds a month. It's good to know so that I can adjust my expectations to something realistic.

  21. IMO, this is hair-splitting at its finest. Just eat lots of low calorie-density foods like bean soups and fruits and salads, and don't think about it. The weight will drop off automatically.

  22. As someone who’s had to do serious math and constant recalculations each week in order to finally lose and keep off a significant amount of weight (and no, going vegan in and of itself didn’t make me lose any weight—in fact, I gained weight when I first went vegan), I think this video is really important for people to see. Weight loss is super complicated.

  23. I think the keto dieters have something going about sugar, they just take it too far. I check the glycemic index of foods and make sure they are medium or less. For instance parboiled rice is medium, but white rice is high. It really does help keep the appetite down because you stay out of the blood sugar spike and crash that leaves you feeling hungry again. Snacking is also a good way to completely blow out a diet. 3 meals a day are much easier to keep tabs on what you are eating and your blood sugar is always at fasting level before eating more food.

  24. Dr Greger what do you think about using Mrs Dash to get a variety of herbs and spices into your daily diet? Different spices have different health benefits and Mrs Dash would give you a variety in an easy to use form. I swallow a Tbsp and wash it down with water. Similar to taking a pill.

  25. Does portion control have the same problem in weight gain? If i force myself to eat more, does my body reduce my appetite so much that i do not gain weight?

  26. There is something everyone is missing because I lost 170 pounds in 7 months eating whenever I felt like it (whole food plant based). From time to time I'd input what I ate into Cronometer and my total calories was always above 3000, sometimes closer to 4000. My only exercise I did was walking for 30 minutes 5 times a week. But, even when I didn't exercise I still lost almost a pound a day, so there is definitely more at play here than what's covered in this video. And I'm not unique either. Lots of people have dropped weight as fast or even faster. If an obese person goes on a whole food plant based diet WITHOUT restricting calories, they will lose way more weight, much faster, that what either website says.

  27. Portion control is a terrible thing. Just eat Whole Foods that are 600 calories or less per pound and you can eat as much as you want until full and will lose weight if you need to and will not gain weight. Fruits, Vegetables, Tubers, Grains cooked in water (not baked or toasted), and legumes (except peanuts). For anyone who doesn't want to be fully plant based, that can include skinless chicken and fish. No added oil, saturated fat, or sugar. What is so hard about that?

  28. PLEASE make a video debunking that new SR trying to convince people that we don't have enough evidence that meat is bad for us…

  29. Way over complicated and misleading. The 3500 cal per pound is still true. You obviously have to recalculate the baseline from which you subtract that 3500 cals per week for a pound loss as you drop weight and along with it your resting and active calorie burn. My recommendation is to get and use an activity tracker and input your starting data such as height weight age and update your weight each day. It will do the maths for you and also give you a pretty good estimate on active calorie burn based on your heart rate and movement.

    Just take the number for your calorie burn from the tracker and use a calorie counting app to get control of the process. As for hunger control – experience during the diet will teach you what meals keep you full. Personally I can eat masses of veg and still be hungry. Protein is key for me and for most dieters. I simply don't get what it said in the video about cutting even more calories if you are hungry. Surely that is bonkers and is going to lead to a binge. Hunger should be a low grade thing shortly before meals, not a raging drive. If you are mad with hunger you are cutting too much for your activity. But experience shows me that unless I am getting slightly peckish before my meals the weight loss is not going to happen. Go slow, count calories and use activity to allow you to eat more during weight loss. I dropped over a stone so far comfortably and no plateau. Obviously it's easier to eat 500 less per day if your baseline is 3000 than if it is already at 1700, and there comes a time where the lower healthy limit of around 1200 for women bumps into the ability to lose quickly. I feel these videos are misleading and are damaging Dr Gregor's reputation.

  30. Well this explains a lot. The 3500 calories per pound rule has never worked for me. I remember in my 20’s religiously eating 1500 calories a day and burning 900 a day in cardio/resistance 6 days a week just to maintain a 27 BMI. I was always tired and hungry and was still considered “overweight”. What about hormonal weight gain or how hormones affect weight gain or loss. Please address that next if you can. Thank you.

  31. For those who are confused:

    If you want to lose fat by eating the same food but in smaller portions you need to cut 55calories for each pound you want to lose and it will take 3 years, losing half in the first year.

    If you want to lose 9 pounds you need to cut 500 calories per day. You will lose 4.5 pounds in 12 months and a total of 9 pounds in 3 years.

  32. The biggest problem with all this calorie talk is that calories, or the volume of food consumption as it were, do matter, but it’s not the main issue, and looking strictly at calories can really lead people astray and prevent weight loss, frustrating people who feel like they’re doing the right thing and causing them to give up. The biggest issue is the hormonal response to what you eat and how frequently you eat, not calories, and if you restrict calories and you eat frequently, you’ll plateau and lower your resting metabolic rate. This is why intermittent fasting is so effective. It lowers your insulin and blood sugar consistently for a long period of time and maintains your resting metabolic rate. Another problem with focusing solely on calories is that people think that they can eat foods that make it hormonally impossible to lose weight as long as they keep it within 2000 calories. If you eat pastries and donuts and tater tots fried in industrial vegetable oils frequently, it won’t matter if you’re eating under a certain number of calories, your insulin and your blood sugar will be so chronically high that you will not burn fat. So calories do matter, because if you overeat you’re going to gain weight, but it’s not the most important factor. Intermittent fasting, focusing on foods with a low glycemic index and glycemic load, eating healthy natural fats like the fat that occurs naturally in meat and fruit like avocado, as well as olive oil and coconut oil, and exercising in a fasted state, is the most effective way to lose fat from what I’ve found.

  33. You're missing too many Pieces of the Puzzle – Is the 3,500 Calories per Pound Rule a Myth? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB9cwqB3XV4&feature=youtu.be

  34. This is not accurate. As you loose weight, your metabolism slows down and your body gets more efficient at running on fewer calories. I can only eat 1000 calories per day without gaining weight. (And it doesn’t matter what macros they are) I still gain weight with a surplus of more than 1000. This is because my body got used to starving on a vegan diet. Yay me 🙄, now I can eat like a bird and still gain weight.
    The vegan diet deteriorates you body!

    I would add that I DO exercise daily and do NOT live a sedentary lifestyle.

  35. Getting way to complicated counting calories. Just eat a WFPB lifestyle and it will be effortless to lose weight with out doing all this confusing counting.

  36. What about calories from foods that have more glucose and protein like oats, legumes, lentils, potatoes and other whole grains?

    Looking at how the body uses food intake, don't we mostly use glucose and amino acids to repair tissue and build muscle or grow?

    Wouldn't eating too many almonds or fruits be ineffective for repairing tissue and growing due to fat and fructose content? Ive never seen any science saying that we utilize lots of fats or lots of fructose (even from fruit) for anything beneficial to our bodies. Although we do need fats, but not so much.

    That's not to say that we shouldn't eat fruit and nuts, but just not eat so much fruits and nuts that leagumes and whole grains are neglected or become an insignificant part of the diet.

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