Science indicates that a pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. Unfortunately it is not that simple in terms of counting calories in vs. calories out! A heart rate monitor and a metabolic test like we recommend at Life Time Fitness can give you an edge in burning more fat calories at each workout by knowing what fuel source (carbs/fat) you are using at each specific heart rate zone and designing a progressive cardiovascular program based on those heart rate zones. There is also the concept of improving your Metabolic Efficiency through proper nutrition…what and when you eat specific foods/fuel to increase your body’s fat utilization throughout the entire day. Another place to look for those that are stuck with weight loss is that your cortisol levels (stress hormone) may be off throughout the day. This can be caused from various factors including work, lack of sleep, overtraining and environmental. If your optimal cortisol level are off throughout the day it will make it very difficult for you to lose fat and your risk of having other serious complications down the road increases dramatically. At Life Time Fitness we offer a test that will measure your cortisol levels 4x throughout the day to determine what is going on INSIDE your body. After your results are analyzed by a Registered Dietician on staff your Personal Trainer will adjust your workout program and suggest specific supplementation to help get your cortisol levels throughout the day to optimal levels…thereby improving your body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source.
I could go on and on forever about this…the best recommendation I can give you is meet with a Fitness Professional and find out where the best place is to start for you as an individual.
Perhaps a more effective way to adress your question is to recognize that losing weight is based on energy balance, calories in versus calories out. The evidence suggests that a negative energy balance of approximately 3,500 kilocalories will lead to a weight loss of a pound. This simply means that we need to expend 3,500 more kilocalories than we consume in order to lose a pound.
That’s why I encourage clients to keep a detailed 3-day dietary record to determine if there may be ways to eliminate unnecessary caloric intake. But keep in mind that adequate intake is essential in order to give the body adequate energy reserves to support the vigorous exercise that is the key to effective weight loss and long-term weight management.
Yep, the text book answer is (c) 3500 calories. As stated before, counting calories is an “approximation” at best. One reason that I focus on body fat reduction and how clothes are fitting is to try to take some of the guess work, and required hyper-vigilance of counting calories out of the whole equation. I want my clients to focus on the end results, the forest if you will, instead of the day-to-day, and very tedious job of calorie counting.