How Many Calories Does It Take To Burn 1 Pound of Body Fat?


question-icon-newHow many calories does a person need to burn, above their BMR (basal metabolic rate) in order to burn one pound of body fat? I’m currently following a diet and exercise program and need to know the details in order to plan my calorie intake and exercise output correctly. I would like to lose about 10 pounds.

answer-icon-newThere are 3,500 calories in one pound of body fat. You should focus on creating a deficit of 500 calories a day, which over the course of one week will result in one pound of weight loss (500 calories X 7 days = 3,500 calories). This can either be accomplished through burning the calories through exercise, creating a caloric deficit through your diet or a combination of both. I recommend a combination because it’s the easiest to incorporate into an overall fitness plan. This plan should consist on making small changes in your diet to create a 250 calorie deficit and then add about 30 minutes of cardio exercise each day to burn the other 250 calories.

A great workout can consist of cardio cross training and circuit training. Cardio cross training typically consists of 2-3 different cardio exercises performed consecutively with little to no rest between. You can divide the time evenly such as:

  • Bike (10 minutes)
  • Elliptical (10 minutes)
  • Treadmill (10 minutes)

Or, you can load one end of a specific exercise such as:

  • Treadmill (20 minutes)
  • Jumping Rope (10 minutes)

lunges-burn-body-fatWhat we’re looking for here is variety so the more you can mix it up the better. This same idea also applies to your strength exercises. Circuit training is a very effective way to build strength and overall fitness in a very short workout. Circuits consist of 3-5 (or more) strength exercises performed consecutively with very little rest in between.

The exercises in a circuit can either be performed by the number of repetitions or by a set time. The amount of rest in between each exercise should be no more than 20-30 seconds. Completion of all the exercises contained in a circuit would constitute 1 set, with a total of 3-5 sets for that session. A very good total body circuit may look like this:

As far as nutrition is concerned, I can’t overemphasize the importance of cutting out processed foods. The reason for this is they are typically high in calories and low in nutrition so that is a very bad trade-off. I highly recommend keeping a food journal. Try to write down everything you eat for a couple of weeks without changing your current diet. You may find very quickly that you consume much more processed food than you realize. What we are looking for is small nutrient dense meals consisting primarily of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Simply cutting out any processed foods and eating a more nutritious diet will easily result in a caloric deficit of 250 calories or more. Combined with cardio cross training and strength circuit training, you will definitely increase your weight loss results.

Finally, I think it is important to mention the importance of staying hydrated. Often times the impulse to snack is really a signal of thirst or boredom as opposed to true hunger. The amount of water needed on a daily basis depends on the individual but being that the human body is roughly 60% water, I think it’s safe to say we need a whole lot of it every day.

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