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Not All Pounds Are Created Equal – How Calorie Restriction Diets Don’t Work

February 29, 2016 - Nutrition

Here at Profile, we celebrate “Simple.”

For years, the simple answer to the number of calories in a pound has been 3,500. We all know weight loss is complex, and an error in the 3,500 calorie rule can help explain why people lose patience with a change in diet eventually leading to a weight loss steady state stemming from your body burning fewer calories for every pound you lose.

What the heck is a weight loss steady state? Calling it a plateau might help. However you prefer to look at it, people typically quit losing weight because their motivation to follow the new diet wanes and they start doing more and more things they shouldn’t. It is normal for people to follow diet plans for 6-9 months. New thoughts on the 3,500 calorie rule tell us that patience beyond that is required to get the results people expect. 

Let’s look at an example of a 55 year old woman who is 5’6 and currently 210 pounds. Her goal is to lose 50 pounds in a year. When doing some basic math and applying the 3,500 calorie rule, if she reduces calories by 500 per day multiplied by 365 days in a year, it appears that she can reach her goal in a year. (365 days * 500 calories/3,500 calories in a pound = 52 pounds). Everyone knows the rule, right? Does that add up though?

No, there are some errors in looking at losing weight this way.

Knowing that your body needs fewer calories for every pound you lose, the math gets quite complicated. Truthfully, if this woman only reduces 500 calories, she will probably only lose 17 pounds! Yet, if she expects to lose over 50, surely she will lose motivation somewhere along the way when her goal no longer seems possible. With such sharp contrast of expectations versus reality, it’s no wonder that many people start to waiver from their meal plan after a period of time; eventually, falling off the wagon when the dreaded plateau hits, leading to weight regain.

Further, this shows us all how and why diets that include only calorie restriction do not work. People have to change something about their lifestyle to see long-term results.  Profile plans provide calculated research-based meal plans that boost a person’s initial weight loss reducing the overall time needed to get to a goal weight. Most importantly, Profile educates and uses behavior change techniques to help a member improve parts of their lifestyle to healthier ways. 

Bottom line; the 3,500 calorie rule is generally inaccurate and is not part of the Profile program.  Instead, under the guidance of a Certified Profile Coach, we focus on making behavior changes while following a plan tailored to your body which results in a healthy lifestyle and maintainable weight loss. 

Reference Calculator : http://pbrc.edu/research-and-faculty/calculators/weight-loss-predictor/

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