Disproving the Most Popular Rule of Weight Loss

Just like one calorie does not equal another calorie, losing 3,500 calories does not equal to losing a pound.

A calorie of broccoli is not the same as a calorie of potato chips. The calorie of broccoli is more nutritious; it has more vitamins and minerals and nutrients than the calorie of potato chips.

You can survive longer on broccoli than you can on potato chips.

It used to be thought that in order to lose a pound of fat, all you had to do was to cut out 3,500 calories from your diet. Conventional wisdom was that if you cut back 500 calories per day for 1 week you would lose a pound.

Turns out that is an extreme simplification of weight loss.

Making Sense of Calories, Pounds & Weight Loss

Medical researcher Max Wishnofsky originally measured that 3,500 calories equals a pound of fat back in the 1950s.

So it’s easy to see why many nutritionists insist that if you can cut 3,500 calories from your diet, you would lose one pound of fat.

But they’re missing something. When you lose weight, you don’t lose just fat. You lose weight from water retention, and other tissues like your muscles.

Actually, most of the time when people start working out, they usually don’t lose weight. They even put on a pound or two. But their clothes fit differently. This is because muscle weighs more than fat does. If you lose fat but put on muscle, the extra weight from the muscle can make it seem like you’re not losing any weight at all.

Fact is, it doesn’t matter that it’s heavier. You are much better off having more muscle than fat, obviously.

Losing Weight & Keeping it Off

As you lose weight, your body compensates metabolically, hormonally, and neurologically. This results in making it harder to keep the weight off.

According to Kevin Hall, a researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the number of calories our body use during the day (our resting metabolic rate) falls soon after we start cutting calories.

“It literally starts happening on the first day, and it continues to mount as you lose weight.” Hall said.

Another researcher from the Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, John Peters, echoed Hall’s sentiment.

“Over time, the more weight you lose, the more your metabolic rate drops,” said Peters. “In order to keep losing weight at the rate you started losing weight, you’re going to have to eat even fewer calories. A month in, you might have to eat another hundred fewer; a month after that you might have to drop it another hundred.”

Unfortunately, this common misconception leads many people to believe that it is easier to lose weight than what it actually is. It can lead to failed dieters getting discouraged about their goals, working extremely hard at cutting calories without seeing any results.

This is just part of the reason why I don’t like the term “diet” or “dieting.” The way you eat needs to feel sustainable and easy to stick with. If you “diet” right, then you shouldn’t feel deprived, and you should be able to stick with it for the long haul.

Your “diet” should be a lifestyle choice,  not a special way of eating that you are going to abandon after you reach some unattainable or unrealistic weight loss goal. You want to be able to eat healthy, but in a sustainable way, for the rest of your life.


Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how skinny you are, or how ripped you are. It matters how you feel, and how long you can live while feeling good.

Don’t eat less, it doesn’t work. Eat smarter, exercise intelligently. This is the Pain Free Way.