Sorry to burst the bubble: the idea that burning 3,500 calories will burn a pound of fat may be true on paper, but it’s not always true in reality. In the best of all possible worlds, when you cut 3,500 calories from your diet, you should lose a pound of bodyfat, but that’s not always the case.
There’s a lot more to dropping bodyfat than just the numbers. In fact, if we were to stubbornly remain steadfast to the mathematical model for bodyfat management, then dieting for a bodybuilding contest would be little more than an exercise in pushing the buttons on a calculator. Bodybuilders would resort to running the numbers, always trying to cut 3,500 calories from their diets with little regard for other elements that play a bigger role in dropping fat.
Here are the factors that explain why it’s overly simplistic to try to diet according to the maxim that “3,500 calories equals a pound of fat” and the ways to go about really burning bodyfat.
FACTOR #1 | The body adapts to reduced-calorie intake.
Let’s say a bodybuilder reduces his daily caloric intake from 3,500 to 3,000 to cut up. That’s 3,500 fewer calories per week. During weeks one and two — and possibly weeks three and four — he may drop a pound of bodyfat a week for a total of four pounds in bodyfat reduction.
However, by the fifth or sixth week, he may no longer lose additional bodyfat. This is called plateauing. The problem is that the body adapts to reductions in calories by burning fewer of them. When you eat less, your body eventually starts to burn fewe calories. That puts a dent in the belief that cutting 3,500 calories from a diet will continue to result in the loss of a pound of bodyfat each week.
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