It is quite often that individuals want to know how many calories in a pound of fat and for the general sense much of the adult population the pound of fat has a caloric equivalency.  While we place a caloric figure to weight loss, it should be known that a pound of fat does not actually have a caloric cost; it is just a rough estimate of how much effort you should give to burn off a pound of fat.  With that said, consider the information ahead as your guide to how many calories in a pound and how hard you need to work to lose some fat weight.

Body Fat Explained

Fat is an essential element of being a human.  Anytime you eat something, your body breaks the food to smaller particles and uses what it needs to satisfy proper health.  However, if you go beyond your nutrient intake and you eat more than you should, your body will store fat.

It does not matter what kind of macro nutrients you eat, but anytime you consume more than you need of any nutrient, your body will store it as fat.  You should think of fat as the surplus of all of your energy; the more you eat of any nutrient means you will be adding to your storage surplus.

While there is a limit as to how much protein and carbs your body stores, there is no end limit for fat.  With that said, obesity is an issue with too many calories in the body without any regulation of how much has been stored.

How does My Body Store Fat

Your body is a very smart machine.  Anytime you eat or drink something with nutrients, your body does a full-body “sweep” of everything it needs and directs the particles towards those needs.  If you have too much of any nutrient, your body will convert the energy to a triglyceride and as a fat.

Adults tend to eat a low fat diet as a way to combat obesity and weight issues and while this is a good technique to use, it does not always work.  Let’s say your diet is very low in fats and very high in carbs (close to 400 grams of carbs).  Your body will notice what you are doing, direct the fat you consume to where it is needed, break down the carbs to sugar, and store the sugar as glycogen.

However, once those glycogen stores are completely full (and it usually does not take very much) your body will convert sugar to fats and then as triglycerides for storage.  Overall, your body will store fat at any chance it gets and this is merely a part of being a human.

How Many Calories in a Pound: How Much Should I Eat Each Day?

Now that you have an idea of how your body breaks down foods and stores them for your energy needs, you should understand what it takes to maintain your body weight.  For starters, your daily needs depend greatly on your height, weight, gender, age, and your average level of physical activity throughout the day.  Most adults do not get the activity needed each day to maintain body weight so many adults are either sedentary or lightly active.  In addition, those who are shorter, weight less, and are older will tend to have the lowest daily needs of all.

One of the easiest ways to estimate what you need to eat each day is to make use of an online calculator.  An online caloric estimator should require you to input your height, weight, age, gender, and your level of activity each day as a way to calculate your daily needs.  Consider using a generic online calculator such as this one found here, or consider the use of fitness and diet trackers, which also have you input this data as well.  Either sources work well and should be a great way to estimate your total calories needed each day.

How Many Calories in a Pound of Fat?

The biggest question in weight loss is: how many calories are in a pound of fat?  The easy answer to this question is to state that for every individual, you should cut down 3,500 calories with diet or exercise to lose a pound of fat.  However, there are a few variables to this figure that you should be aware of.  Consider the factors below on how many calories in a pound.

The Average Joe

While it is easiest to estimate that a pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories, this is only true for some people.  The average person is mildly fit, possibly normal sized or slightly overweight, and with a little activity throughout the day and week.  For this person, one pound of fat will equal 3,500 calories.

The Hyper Metabolism Person

Some people can eat anything they desire without gaining any weight.  These people tend to have much higher metabolisms than other adults and they usually can burn fat with ease.  For this type of person (and you would know if this is you) your energy burn will be far less than the average Joe.  People with higher metabolic rates will require less than a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat.

The Hypo Metabolism

A large majority of adults fall into this category.  Obesity and overweight is a big issue among adults and as you get older in age, your metabolism should continue to slow.  What this means is that your metabolic rate is slower than the average person, which means you will need to work a bit harder to lose a pound of fat.  There are a wide number of reasons why your metabolism is slowed, but it could be related to thyroid issues, sedentary activity, or a poor diet.

The Fit Person

The last scenario you may come across is the fit person who wants to lose five more pounds to lean out and truly define the muscle on the body.  This person will typically have a great metabolism, but the issue with burning fat is different than for others.  An hour of cardio on the treadmill or a brutal high intensity interval training workout may create a net calorie burn of about 700 calories for the average person.  However, since the fit person is in shape and acclimated to exercise, they may only burn off 500 calories.  For this reason, the fit person will need to work harder, increase intensity, and be more diligent with diet and exercise to lose those last few pounds than someone who is not fit.

How Many Calories in a Pound: Helpful Tips

In a general sense, you should aim towards the 3,500 calorie burn rule to shed off a pound of fat.  While the numbers may not match in an identical manner, creating a caloric deficit of this much is important for your weight loss success.  With that in mind, there are some helpful ways that you can boost your calorie burn throughout the day, so that you can achieve the weight loss you desire.  Consider the tips below to help you to better judge how many calories in a pound.


Your body is composed of mostly water and drinking more of it can have great rewards in your weight loss program.  Sipping on cold water throughout the day can help to reduce your hunger cravings, which could prevent overeating, and essentially lead to successful weight loss.  If plain water is boring in your daily life, consider adding a fresh lemon to the mix for added flavor.

Make Small Changes

While cutting down what you eat is necessary for weight loss, you should first start with a gradual decrease in the number of calories you eat each day.  Rather than aiming for a caloric deficit of 500 calories consumed, consider starting with eating what your body needs for weight regulation.  If you have been doing this, consider cutting back your caloric intake by 100-200 calories.  The point is to make small changes so that your body does not adapt immediately.

Add More Activity

Do you have a job where you sit down for at least six hours each day?  If this is you then perhaps your weight loss program will be more efficient if you try cutting these long sitting periods with some activity.  Office exercises such as squats, calf raises, walking, stair climbs, and light stretching is a great way to increase your heart rate so that your body stops storing energy as fat.  Consider cutting your sitting time each day to no longer than one hour at a time for best results.

30 Minutes a Day

One of the hardest issues in any healthy lifestyle is to exercise every day.  While you are on your weight loss plan, make it a point to exercise for 30 minutes every day.  These 30 minutes are important for all aspects of your heart and the added calorie burn will truly help you to lose those extra fat pounds.

The Bottom Line on How Many Calories in a Pound

The bottom line with burning calories for weight loss is to start small and make changes that o not drastically affect your lifestyle.  If it means cutting back on your portion sizes then do this, but consider the helpful tips above to boost your calorie burn each day.  Cutting fat from the body is what most adults in the U.S. desire so making small steps towards this goal can lead to large results.

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