Amount of Calories Burned to Lose a Pound of Fat

By | April 23, 2005

calories in a pound of fat
3500 calories is the rough estimate for the energy contained in one pound of fat!

This means that to lose one pound per week, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories per week. Since a week is 7 days, that means a deficit of 3500 / 7 = 500 calories per day. This is a great starting point.

Fat Loss is More Complex

The reality is that fat loss is much more complex .. for example, 3500 calories will not produce a pound of muscle, it actually takes more than that, etc etc …

However, as a general rule of thumb, This gives you a starting point and then you can play with your calorie amounts from there.

How Much Does It Take to Burn 3500 Calories?

To really appreciate the power of losing even a pound of fat, visit our How Many Pounds Calculator and find out interesting facts such as how many pots of coffee you could brew or how many times you could walk across England with the calories you have burn or intend to burn.

See Our Calculator here

On top of all this, there is the whole issue of metabolism, which throws another wrench in this simple formula. Fat loss is not a one size fits all formula for sure.

Do Foods Make a Difference?

Types of foods can also play a role in how quickly your body burns fat. Some foods can stress the body, inhibiting its ability to function properly.

  • Alcohol
  • Processed Foods
  • Excessive Sugar

Are some of the worst culprits for keeping your body from burning fat as it should.

Experts like Dr. Sears of the Zone Diet think there is a strong connection between the high amount of refined carbs and Omega-6 fats in the average western diet. This causes inflammation, which could hinder fat loss and health in general.

3500 calories may be the amount of energy in one pound of fat, but losing a pound of fat may take a bit more than than burning that exact amount of calories.

26 thoughts on “Amount of Calories Burned to Lose a Pound of Fat

    1. John Henry

      ?I weight about 170… I take in 1100 calories per day.. For about 2 months now
      I bike 16 miles. 4 times a week in about 1 hour..
      Just started weight training Light stuff. I
      can’t get below that 170 pound mark, in fact I am having trouble maintaining weight at 170…
      Any suggestions?

      1. Ted

        Are you losing body fat percentage? Gaining muscle? For a guy, 1100 calories is awfully low, your body might be in starvation mode.

      2. Brady

        Hey man… First off how tall are you cause 170lbs sounds like a good weight to me… But like the other guy said 1100 calories just doesnt sound like enough food. Our bodies like to use carbs, proteins, and fats as fuel to give us energy and with the amount of exercise you are doing sounds like your body is starving. For example: Michael phelps consumes close to 12,000 calories per day. The amount of exercise he does requires him to eat massive amounts of food so his body can perform at his level. He looked pretty lean to me.. At 1100 calories your body probably went into starvation mode by lowering your metabolic rate, holding onto fats and using proteins for fuel which end up coming from your muscles… Maybe try eating more carbs on days you ride or exercise and see how that works out.

      3. tim chung

        You may need to actually increase your caloric intake. If it is to low and you are to active your body goes into conservation mode and retains as much body fat as possible. The only thing is utilizing healthy foods to increase caloric intake rather then highly fatty over-produced foods. There is a bunch of literature, and also one of the ufc trainers had a video on chael sonin having issues cutting weight, that he plateaued, they increased his calorie intake, and he began losing fat. You can also consult a dietician, which i did (my sister-in-law) and she said verified the information, ut if you want to look into it check it out online.

  1. audrey

    what foods are the best foods to eat and what are the best exersizes to loose weight

    1. Rachel

      In Order to burn fat calories, you need to keep 2 things in check: diet and exercise. Foods that help burn fat are fruits and vegetables. Mainly vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, squash, ect. These are very important to your digestion which is important in losing weight. Some fruits are high in sugar which you would want to be careful about your intake. These fruits are watermelon,oranges, apples, grapes, and bananas. Fruits that are low in sugar are berries, cantelope, grapefruit, cucumber. Pineapple is in the middle. Going organic is the smartest thing you can do with your food because it will be free of pesticides and GMO. Be very careful about how much of that you allow into your diet. Okay. Grains are said to be great for you because they provide fiber and energy, which is true. However, there is a limit to the amount of grains you should take in. Too much grains can cause constipation and water retention, so drink a LOT of water. I know it sounds like it would make the problem worse, but water helps flush your system and reduce bloating. Also, stay away from gluten. That is a big no-no to losing weight. If you like toast for breakfast, substitute it with granola. Granola is very high in fiber and gives you the same energy boost that the bread grains would. Also, eat lots of protein. Oatmeal, chicken, fish, and eggs are all high in protein. Once again, I strongly suggest organic. Coffee is okay as long as you drink plenty of water to re-hydrate you. I personally cannot give up coffee…. I have a gilmore relationship with coffee. Stay away from sugary drinks. Soda, juice, teas, ect. Check the labels because you are only suppose to consume a total of 40 grams of sugar per day. And my last thing on foods is this: Stay away from soy-based products. Soymilk, soybean oil, soy anything. Soy is not at all good for you. It causes havick with your digestion since it is full of fermented toxins. Okay. EXERCISE. Yay or Nay? YAY. You need exercise if you are trying to lose weight. Burning 100 calories is not going to cut it. You wanna lose pounds? You’re gonna need to sweat for it. So you are gonna need to build muscle while you burn the calories since muscle is what burns fat. So I suggest pilates and non-yawning style yoga. Also, incorporate some cardio. Jog, circuit training, bike, or even jumping jacks and knee highs. My favorite form of cardio is kick boxing. It kicks my butt, but it has been the most effective way of burning fat, for me anyway. I personally believe it is important for women to learn to kick box for defense purposes. So do it for both reasons. Besides, it’s a lot of fun. So you will want to be burning 3500 calories a week. Divide that by 7, and you have yourself 500 calories per day. Which sucks, but it is doable. 20 minutes of non stop kick boxing burns approx. 200 calories. 20 minutes of non-stop pilates or circuit training burns 200 calories. Go for a 20 minute power walk. That burns about 100 calories. So 1 hour can burn your 500 calories. Who could ask more than that?

      1. Alia

        Thank You You really Help Me Out Alot To Right When I Get Home Im Going To Make My Schedule Thank You Doll 🙂

    2. last_dragon

      Grean tea and caffeine helps cleance the body so that would help. Spice foods if you like them, acid foods as well. Pasta lemon would be a good one low calory, lower than weight watchers foods. calicam supuments, then there is Vitmain B2, 3, 5, 6 & c, fish oil, also helps memary, yohimbine, choline, chormium, inositol, maganese, zinc all supost to help matablizam.

    3. last_dragon

      • Chew Your Food 25x before swallowing. This will save your bodys energy stores and speed up your metabolism.
      • Eat metabolism boosting foods. Some “negative calorie” foods are listed below.

      List of Metabolism Boosting Foods:
      • Apples
      • Celery
      • Garlic
      • Lemons
      • Mangos
      • Onions
      • Papaya
      • Cabbage
      • Lettuce • Avocado
      • Carrots
      • Berries
      • Oranges
      • Spinach
      • Turnips
      • Broccoli
      • Tomatoes
      • Zucchini • Nut milks
      • Seed milks
      • Asparagus
      • Cucumbers
      • Pineapple
      • Grapefruit
      • Cauliflower
      • Raw Nuts & Seeds
      • Green, Leafy Veggies

      as for exersise it depends on what problem area you use but rowing boats and stair climbers cover nearly all problem areas. smeak in extra movment, you clean your teeth for 2 mins 6 cal, balance 30 one leg then switch repeat twice you have cleaned your teeth right time and done 26 cal. brushing your hair 1 cal per min. hay each cal counts. i shack my hips slowly while doing the pots and it adds to your steps a day. 20-30 cal a min depending on spead. hopes this helps.

  2. Rachel

    1 more thing to comment on about exercising. Don’t over do it. Don’t under do it. You work out hard one day, you’re gonna be sore the next day. That doesn’t mean you should use that as an excuse not to exercise. But also give your body a break. If you are trying to lose weight fast, then work your butt off. But if you are willing to take your time a little, workout 5 days of the week and rest for 2 of the days. Not in a row though. For example, workout Mon-wed, and take Thursday off. Workout Fri-sun, take Monday off. And so on and so forth. Your muscles need time to heel and strengthen or you could end up with an injury. Alright. I will shut up now.

  3. Audrey

    Rachel what you had to say was very informative and I Thank You for taking your time and posting all that you have to say.

  4. Satya


    Thanks for the info it had cleared out too many things in my mind. Your recommendations are really good, instead of starving you told us to eat right. I was tending towards switching to soy products which many people say its good for your body, but thanks a lot on the information. 🙂

  5. Dany

    Hi!!.. I am burning between 700 and 1030 calories per day (Monday to Friday and rest Saturday and Sunday),and I am trying no eat more than 1500 – 1600 calories of food per day (with out count Saturdays and Sundays, this days are free and I can eat until 1900 calories), drinking lot of water and green tea with 1 spoon of honey after excercise. I was 155lb (December 5, 2011) and today (January 13, 2012) I’m in 145.2Lb!!!

  6. Char

    Wow Dant well done! May I ask what your excersise regime is to be burning what you do? Are you going to the gym or working at home? I’ve just started indoor rock climbing and I’m really enjoying it, but I’m worried I’m not burning enough doing it 4 times a week… Charlotte

    1. Ted

      Do you enjoy rock climbing? Then you’re most likely to stick with it and actually burn more calories in the long run. I say do what tyou enjoy and from experience rock climbing is very taxing on the muscles so it’s great. 🙂

  7. Alexis

    Rock climbing actually burns about 600 calories per hour, which is basically jogging with an average 12 minute mile for an hour so its not that different! Rock climbing also does a better job of engaging your entire body whilst running does the same but In a less extreme format. Rock climbing builds muscle faster while running builds endurance. Personally, rock climbing is fun but running is easier. However, rock climbing is just as, or better than, running all together. And as stated before, muscle burns more calories than fat so building muscles while burning calories, like rock climbing does, is an excellent form of exercise. So don’t worry about rock climbing, its awesome for you!

  8. robert silva

    works great!
    burn 3500 calories and it burns 1 pound of fat iam a example

    true story

    goodluck on workout!

  9. Anjana Rai

    I burn 3500 calories 🙂 a week
    following this routine from this website and its really working out 🙂


  10. John Henry

    Thanks for your response Ted.
    I am sure that to some diagree I am gaining muscle.. I know I feel stronger
    I am a type 2 diabetic who is gluten intolerant.
    My diabetes is under control – with diet and exercise..
    I eat very holistically, fruits vegetables. Proteins – lean meats
    Rice products and beans for carbs… Went from 266- to 169-170
    pounds.. But am having to fight to keep the weight there…
    Not ire about the body fat index… Haven’t measure that …

  11. carissa Almager

    i am 22 years old and weigh 170, i had a baby boy 18 months ago and since then i have dropped about 35 pounds i am trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight which was 140 but i cant seem to get out of 170, i consume about 1700 calories a day and i amvery active i play softball and the days that i dont play softball i run at least 2 miles a day… any suggestions on to what else i can do to drop these last 25 pounds?

    1. Gurpreet

      Try removing, any fatty foods. Or food that wiill have a lot of fat in it. Calories is just energy, fat is what is burned. If you don’t give you body any more fat, inorder to keep all the functions it needs to burn far for. The body will start “eating” or using any fat in your body to compensate for what it does not recieve for the digested food.

  12. Kds

    I need help cant get away from sweets and carbs help any body

  13. danielle

    Im a mother of 4 and ive been eating 1500 cal. A day and i work out for 1hr a day 5 days a week and rest for 2 days but i went from 315lbs to 240lbs in the last 9 months my work out is zumba fitness for 1hour mon-friday satt- sun rest special k diet and using my fitness pal to keep track of all the calories i hope i was some help

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