The 3,500 Calorie per Pound Rule Is Wrong

The 3,500 Calorie per Pound Rule Is Wrong

October 1, 2019 53 By William Morgan


[Music] the first surgical attempt at body sculpting was in 1921 with the dancer wanting to improve the shape of her ankles the search and apparently scraped away too much tissue and tied the stitches too tight resulting in necrosis amputation and the first recorded malpractice suit in the history of plastic surgery today’s liposuction is much safer only killing about one in 5,000 patients mostly from unknown causes throwing a clot off into your lung or perforations of your internal organs liposuction currently reigns as the most popular cosmetic surgery in the world and its effects are indeed only cosmetic a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine assessed obese women before and after having about twenty pounds of fat sucked out of their bodies resulting in nearly a 20% drop in their total body fat normally lose even just five to ten percent of your body weight and fat and you get significant improvements in blood pressure blood sugars inflammation cholesterol and triglycerides but liposuction sucks none of those benefits materialized even after the massive liposuction this suggests subcutaneous fat and the fat under our skin is not the problem the metabolic consults of obesity arise from the visceral fat the fat surrounding or even infiltrating our internal organs like the fat marbling our muscles and liver the way you lose that fat the dangerous fat is to take in fewer calories than you burn anyone who’s seen the Biggest Loser shows knows with enough calorie restriction and exercise hundreds of pounds can be lost similarly there are cases in the medical literature of what some refer to as super obesity in which individuals lost up to three hundred and seventy four pounds largely on their own without professional help and kept it off for years the guy lost about 20 pounds a month cycling to hours a day and reducing intake to 800 calories a day which is down around what some prisoners were getting at concentration camps in World War two perhaps America’s most celebrated TV weight loss was when Oprah pulled out a wagon full of fat representing the 67 pounds she lost on very low calorie diet how many calories did she have to cut to achieve that within four months consult leading nutrition textbooks or refer to trusted authorities like the Mayo Clinic and you’ll learn the simple weight loss rule one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories quoting from the Journal of the American Medical Association a total of 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight this means if you decrease your intake by 500 calories daily you will lose one pound per week 500 calories per day times seven days equals 3,500 calories so one pound of body fat the simple weight loss rule that’s simply not true the 3500 calorie rule can be traced back to a paper in 1958 that just noted that since fatty tissue on the human body is 87 percent fat a pound of body fat would have about 395 grams of pure fat multiply that by nine calories per gram of fat gives you that 3500 calories per pound approximation the fatal flaw that leads to dramatically exaggerated weight loss predictions is that the 3500 rule fails to take into account the fact that changes in the calories inside of the energy balance equation automatically lead to changes in calories out for example the slowing of metabolic rate that accompanies weight loss known as metabolic adaptation that’s one of the reasons weight loss plateaus for example imagine a 30 year old sedentary woman of average height who weighs 150 pounds according to the 3500 calorie rule if she cuts 500 calories out of her daily diet she’d lose a pound a week or 52 pounds a year in three years then she would vanish she’d go from 150 pounds to negative six obviously that doesn’t happen what would happen is that in the first year instead of losing 52 pounds she’d likely lose only 32 pounds and then after a total of three year stabilized at about a hundred pounds this is because it takes fewer calories to exist as a thin person part of it is simple mechanics in the same way a hummer requires more fuel than a compact car think how much more effort it would take to just get out of a chair walk across the room or climb a few stairs carrying a 50-pound backpack that’s no lighter than carrying 50 pounds in the front even when you’re lying it rest sound asleep there’s simply less of your body to maintain as we lose weight every pound of fat tissue lost may mean one less mile of blood vessels your body has to pump blood through every minute so the basic upkeep and movement of thinner bodies takes fewer calories so as you lose weight by eating less you end up needing less that’s what the 3500 calorie rule doesn’t take into account or imagine it the other way 200 pound man starts eating 500 more calories a day that’s like a large soda or two donuts according to the 3,500 calories rule in 10 years he’d weigh more than 700 pounds that doesn’t happen because the heavier he is the more calories he burns just existing if you’re a hundred pounds overweight that’s like the skinny person inside you trying to walk around balancing 14 gallons of oil at all times or lugging around a sack containing 400 sticks of butter wherever you go it takes about two doughnuts worth of extra energy just to live at 250 pounds and so that’s where he’d plateau out if he kept it up so weight gain or weight loss given a certain calorie excess or deficit is a curve that flattens out over time rather than a straight line up or down nevertheless the 3500 calorie rule continues to crop up even in obesity journals Public Health researchers used it to calculate how many pounds children might lose every year if for example fast-food kids meals swamped in apple slices instead of french fries mmm they figured two meals a week could add up to about four pounds a year the actual difference National Restaurant Association funded researchers were no doubt delighted to point out would probably add less than half a pound ten times less than the 3500 calorie rule would predict the original article was subsequently retracted [Music] you