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   Jul 24

How many calories do YOU need to cut to lose weight?

The Body Weight Planner links to another tool called the SuperTracker, which adds up the total amount of calories and type of food a person eats in a day, in order to help them stick to their weight-loss goals


People can add their meals for the day into the SuperTracker and it will add up the total calories, and amount of each type of food, from protein, dairy, vegetables, grains and fat.

That way, they can develop meals which help them stick to their daily-calorie goal.

Dr Hall continued: ‘The Planner is a natural fit within the SuperTracker as it lets people accurately determine how many calories and how much exercise is needed to meet their personal weight-management goals.’


For years, dieters have lived by the ‘golden rule’ of weight loss: that eating around 3,500 fewer calories will burn a pound of fat.

Roughly equating to around 500 fewer calories a day, it is seen as a tough but manageable rule.

But now, a leading expert claims this rule is incorrect and people need to eat even less if they want a slimmer waistline.

Dr Kevin Hall is a mathematician at the National Institutes of Health, whose lab runs experiments on the effects of different diets on the body’s metabolism.

He specialises in creating mathematical models for weight loss.

He told Runner’s World the 3,500-calorie rule is accurate only if a pound of human fat is burned in a lab.

The ‘golden rule of dieting’, that a person needs to eat 3,500 fewer calories to burn a pound of fat is wrong, one expert claims

The ‘golden rule of dieting’, that a person needs to eat 3,500 fewer calories to burn a pound of fat is wrong, one expert claims
Dr Kevin Hall, a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health, says they actually need to eat 7,000 fewer calories

However, unlike a lab, the body is not a static environment, and instead adapts when a person changes their diet and exercise.

As a person diets and loses weight, the body slows the metabolism in an effort to conserve energy.

As a result, eating 500 fewer calories a day leads to slightly less weight loss as time goes on, Dr Hall told Runner’s World.

Instead, over 12 months, a person will need to eat 7,000 calories to burn a pound of fat, he calculated.

He added that few people seem to be able to keep losing weight after 12 months.

The biggest flaw with the 3,500-calorie-rule is that it assumes weight loss will continue in a linear fashion over time. That’s not the way the body responds Dr Kevin Hall, of the National Institutes of Health

‘That’s not the way the body responds. The body is a very dynamic system, and a change in one part of the system always produces changes in other parts.’

Dieters may be ‘bummed out’ by news that they must double their efforts at reducing calorie, he said.

‘But we believe it’s better to have an accurate assessment of what you might lose,’ Dr Hall said. ‘That way you don’t feel like a failure if you don’t reach your goal.’

He has helped the NIH develop a weight loss Body Weight Planner (BWP), which was unveiled last week.

The BWP calculates how many calories a day a person should eat to achieve their weight loss goals in a certain time (for example, losing a stone in a year).

This was calculated by analysing a range of weight loss studies, and then creating a model that best fits the results of the research.

However, dietitians defended the 3,500-rule, saying they had clients who had lost more than a pound a week by reducing their calories by this amount.

Chris Cashin, a registered dietitan and sports nutritionist in Cardiff, admitted that there’s ‘a lot of controversy around the 3,500 rule, but that in practice, it does seem to work for most people.

She told MailOnline: ‘Mostly people do lose two pounds a week. But then they’ll have some weeks when they don’t. It depends on different factors.

Dr Hall created the Body Weight Planner, which was based on a mathematical model using all the latest research on how diet, exercise and metabolism affects weight loss (file photo)

‘The problem is, mathematicians don’t work with real people. In practice, people do lose one to two pounds a weight following this rule.

‘It’s not an exact science, but for most people, if they’re creating a calorie deficit will use weight. Whether you use high carb, low carb, high protein diet, it doesn’t matter.

‘If you look at the way people put on weight, it’s usually half a stone every three or four months. That’s roughly 3,500 calories extra.

‘They’re eating 500 calories a day more than they need. It might be they’ve put on a stone a year.

‘I agree that the 3,500 calorie deficit is an arbitrary figure, but if you are in energy deficit, you will lose weight.’

Ursula Arens, a registered dietician and nutrition writer, agreed that, while she is aware the 3,500 rule is challenged, a calorie deficit of 7,000 to burn one pound seems ‘extreme’.

‘It’s true that weight loss isn’t linear, there are different stages and adaptions

‘But as a rough and ready tool, the 3,500-rule good enough,’ she said.

In the first week of dieting a person will lose a lot of weight, but most of it will be water rather than fat tissue, she said.

Dr Hall says dieters lose weight initially, but struggle to lose any more weight after 12 months (file photo)

The body first uses up its stores of glycogen, tissue which is carbodydrate with water attached.

In the second and third week, once all the glycogen has been used up, it has to begin using fat, which is a denser tissue.

‘Fat is the densest tissue because the body evolved to store energy efficiently. We didn’t have 24-hour Tesco.

‘Our ancestors would starve until they killed a beast then they would gorge themselves, it would be stored as fat, and then they’d starve for another two weeks eating only nuts and berries.’

And over time, as a person loses weight, they lose cells that require energy – such as muscle – therefore their metabolism slows.

The metabolism also slows beyond the level of simply of the tissue that is lost, as an adaptive mechanism to conserve energy and stop a person starving.

When you’re on a diet you feel tired and lethargic, because your body’s sending messages to your brain saying ‘conserve the energy store that will keep you alive’.

Source: Daily Mail

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