The 3500 Calorie LIE

The 3500 Calorie LIE


3500 Calorie

by Celeste Dana

owner at Prolean Wellness

Have you been told before that you need to shed 3500 calories from your diet for each pound you’d like to lose?  If so, you’re not alone.  Dieticians and Nutritionist have been saying this for years, but it’s just not true.  

This lie is actually based off of research done in the 1950s where a pound of fat was measured for the amount of energy it produced.  That magic number was 3,500 calories.  Since that time, this has been used as the basis of a theory that in order to lose a pound of fat, a person must either burn, or forgo a total of 3500 calories.  

The fallacy with this theory can be seen easily in the person who works out for hours at a time, and eats a very low calorie diet, but still can’t get the number on the scale to budge.  Do you find yourself in that category?  

I can’t tell you how many clients we see who eat very little and exercise for long periods of time in a high calorie burning state, but still can’t lose weight.  They’re deceiving themselves based on the 3,500 calorie LIE!  You see, our bodies and our metabolism will adapt to the number of calories available for energy.  Fewer calories often mean slower metabolism and slower weight loss.  

Besides the amount of calories we consume and burn, there are many other factors at play in the ability to burn fat.  Did you know that high insulin amounts block the receptors that allow fat out its cell?  Did you know that other hormones have a big role in our ability to burn fat?  Low thyroid function is a popular test requested when weight loss slows down, but what about cortisol, or DHEA levels?  

By just cutting calories in our diet, we actually put our bodies in a defense mode – meaning that our bodies are actually trying to defend AGAINST fat loss.  What is needed is a change in our diet that pushes our bodies to burn fat for fuel.  The TYPE of foods we eat play a key role in allowing this process to occur.  

Take a popular point system diet program for a case in point.  If you can save up all of your points for the day in order to have a big piece of celebratory birthday cake that night, it’s very likely that you’re still going to be within your allowable point range for the day, and your daily calorie intake will be in the range to get your pound of weight loss per week, but have you given your body any fuel or any necessary nutrients?  Just like a car needs fuel to run – so our bodies need fuel to keep our metabolism going, not to mention the nutrition we need to keep up our immune system etc.  

Another fallacy is that you can just go on an extra long run the next day to burn off excess calories in order to lose more weight.  But, what kind of calories are you burning on that run? Did you know that there’s a place where you stop burning fat calories and only burn available carbohydrate calories for fuel?  There is a definite difference between the two, and our body will choose the easiest source of fuel during times of stress (like when exercising).  That’s why you hear all the time that you can’t exercise away a bad diet.  I’ve seen people who burn up to 1200 calories a day during their exercise regimen, yet still can’t lose weight despite a 1500 calorie diet.  The 3500 calorie lie is disproven time and again with clients in this situation.  

Stress, inflammation, insulin, cortisol, hormones, thyroid, metabolism…all of these factors and more play a part in you ability to lose weight, so if you’re frustrated  that you’re cutting calories, and still not seeing results, give us a call, we can help address the other things besides calories that prevent the needle on the scale from moving downward.  


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