APR 08, 2016 05:52 PM PDT

The Math Behind Weight Loss


Your body needs energy to keep your organs going and to move around. You get energy by consuming calories. If you don't consume enough calories, the body burns energy using your fat.

If you take one pound of fatty flesh, burn it, and convert it into energy, you get about 3500 calories. Hence, why diet books like to tout the advice, "burn 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat."

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. A person never loses weight at one constant rate. Mathematical models have been created to demonstrate that fact. When mapping weight loss, it's always going to curve from one steady state down to another (more like a parabola).

Now, let's say the 3500 rule is true and you lose weight at a constant rate. By that logic, you could lose 52 pounds in a year by cutting back 500 calories a day (3500 calories per week). By that same logic, after ten years, you would lose 500 pounds. If you don't have 500 pounds to lose, you won't live through the process. So, the rule breaks down way before you get to that point.

Larger people burn more energy because it takes more energy to move a larger mass. If you lose weight, your body will need less energy because there's less tissue to power. Thus, you'll never lose weight at a constant rate by cutting the same amount of calories. You'll go from one steady state to the next as your body metabolically adapts to each new diet.

No one wants a slow diet, but a slow diet is an effective weight loss option. According to the video, by cutting back on just 100 calories a day, you should see the full effect of your diet in three years time.

Other diet tips include cutting back on added sugar. Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose. While every cell in our body can metabolize fructose, only our liver can metabolize glucose. If the liver has already stored the maximum amount of glycogen (the stored form of glucose), the excess glucose gets turned into fat. Also, added sugar is high in calories but low in nutritional value. Focus on getting the most nutritional value out of your calories.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
NOV 13, 2018
Technology
NOV 13, 2018
Here's Why Hydrogen-Powered Cars Haven't Become Mainstream
The automobile industry today is still dominated by gasoline-powered vehicles, but electric cars like those from Tesla are gaining a lot of traction in the...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
What critics think about the first gene-edited babies
Chinese scientist He Jiankui took advantage of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong to publicize the results of his Crispr-Cas9 trial...
DEC 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2018
Here's Why Harvard Scientists Believe Oumuamua Could Have Been an Alien Spacecraft
  When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize...
DEC 07, 2018
Videos
DEC 07, 2018
The Influence of Genetics on our Future
In recent decades, advances in genetic technologies have changed our world in many different ways....
DEC 11, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 11, 2018
What is a Zombee?
You may or may not have heard of a zombee, which is essentially a zombified bee. Zombees are bees that have been infected by the phorid fly (Apocephalus bo...
DEC 17, 2018
Videos
DEC 17, 2018
The 15 year-old who is taking the world by a storm
Fifteen-year-old environmental justice activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden took the climate talks at the COP24 summit by the horns with her barely over thr...
Loading Comments...