The 3,500 Calorie per Pound Rule Is Wrong



How many fewer calories do you have to eat every day to lose one pound of body fat?

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If it were just a matter of your weight settling at the point at which your reduced calorie intake matches your reduced calorie output, it would take years for your weight loss to plateau. Instead, it often happens within six to eight months after starting a new diet. I explain why in my next video, The Reason Weight Loss Plateaus When You Diet (

This is the first of 14 videos that are part of my fasting video series, which I recently did two webinars on. All of the videos will be on Nutritonfacts.org for free over the next few months, or you can get them all now in a digital download here: Intermittent Fasting ( I just did a webinar on Fasting and Disease Reversal, so check in a few days for a link to the digital download for that. And I have one more coming up on October 25 – Fasting and Cancer. Go here for more information and to register:

The next several in this series are:
• The New Calories per Pound of Weight Loss Rule? (
• The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity (
• Potential Pitfalls of Calorie Restriction (
• Benefits of Fasting for Weight Loss Put to the Test (
• Is Fasting Beneficial for Weight Loss? (
• Is Fasting for Weight Loss Safe? (

Some other popular videos on weight loss are:
• Eating More to Weigh Less (
• Are There Foods with Negative Calories? (
• Nutrient Dense Approach to Weight Management (
• How Much Exercise to Sustain Weight Loss (
• Keep Your Waist Circumference to Less than Half Your Height (
• Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss? (
• Can Morbid Obesity Be Reversed Through Diet? (
• The Weight Loss Program that Got Better with Time (
• Are Weight Loss Pills Safe? (
• Are Weight Loss Pills Effective? (

I also recently tackled the ketogenic diet, if anyone is interested:
• Keto Diet Theory Put to the Test (
• Keto Diet Results for Weight Loss (
• Is Weight Loss on Ketosis Sustainable? (
• Are Keto Diets Safe? (
• Keto Diets: Muscle Growth and Bone Density (

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Comments(49)

  1. Something_to_appease_Google says:

    Clickbait. 395*9=3,555. The laws of thermodynamics cannot be ignored.

  2. Jacob M says:

    I thought that the 3500 calories ruled meant that for every 3500 calories subtracted from baseline (baseline being where your weight stays the same) then one pound of weight is lost. So a subtraction of 3500 calories from your base line weight is impossible to measure precisely by diet alone because we all differ in metabolism, activity, health, and food composition. So the 3500 calorie rule is correct, but you can't measure it by food alone.

  3. minty says:

    but 1lb of fat is still composed of 3500 calories. You can't try to be a respected nutirition source and post dishonest clickbait at the same time…

  4. minty says:

    but 1lb of fat is still composed of 3500 calories. You can't try to be a respected nutirition source and post dishonest clickbait at the same time…

  5. JadeMusic says:

    I think I get it. Would this be on par with why the average 2000 cal a day "guideline" isn't for everyone? I always thought it dumb that this figure was the "standard", when depending on age, size and activity level, it could be a lot more or less .

  6. Juandisimo says:

    If you lose a pound a week, who guarantees its all fat loss?

  7. Love,Peace, Happy says:

    Ich nehme nicht ab mit einer fettarmen pflanzenbasierten Ernährung. Ich habe zugenommen. Lag es am Kalorienzählen?

  8. HEALTH AND FITNESS PERSON says:

    A good video and educative for me, thank you…

  9. HEALTH says:

    This makes Sense!! 🤔🤔 Like it just makes sense

  10. John Rose says:

    Hey Gregger, you're missing too many Pieces of the Puzzle – Is the 3,500 Calories per Pound Rule a Myth? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB9cwqB3XV4&feature=youtu.be

  11. Erik Lewis says:

    Isn't the error in this issue not with the 3500 calories, but with the amount we're told is naturally burned without exercise each day? I'm given the number of 2000 calories per day for my body size/shape and it seems that this number is too often seen as a constant for men. All of the issues cited in this video seem to point to the fact that this number needs to change, and not that the 3500 calories is inconstant. If I ate 1500 calories per day and my "natural" burn remained 2000, then the 1 lb. per week would make sense. But if I lost enough that my body only burns, without extra effort, 1500 calories, then there would be no weight loss at all. But that doesn't change the 3500 number.

  12. Peter Rabitt says:

    It's not the 3500 calories per pound that wrong. It's the "your body will always burn 3500 calories if you do X" that's wrong.

  13. OneWeekTime says:

    This is so misleading. The amount of calories you need to eat does drop as you lose weight, but the amount is almost unnoticeable.

    At 30lb heavier, I was eating roughly 2050 a day, and now at 30lb lighter, I eat roughly 1950 a day. That's a 100 calorie drop, it's not a lot, and if I wanted to lose weight again, I would set my calories to a certain amount below 1950, not 2050. Heres the thing though, as you lose weight your appetite changes. If you're genetically doing well (no diabetes, thyroid issues, etx), you don't want to eat more than maintenance. I don't miss eating 2050, I feel just as full at 1950. Some days I eat way over, yes, but then my body say woah your full, and I eat less the next day. At the end of the week, I'm back around 1950 calories on average and I'm not hungry when I go to bed.

    He makes it sound so much worse than it is.

  14. 정체이없다 says:

    metabolic adaptation= metabolic damage

  15. B B says:

    Very smart, I love Dr.Gerger's videos. They are the best on YouTube!

  16. Iulia Ionela Petcu says:

    Please never use feet as a thumbnail again 😭

  17. Kristin says:

    You tend to end your videos abruptly without any solution.

  18. Victoria Smith says:

    Many people know that if you limit yourself to sweets or complex carbohydrates (rice, buckwheat, pasta, bread, potatoes), then body weight, as a rule, decreases by a couple of kilograms. In fact, similar restrictions on carbohydrate intake are DIET (low-carb). It works very well because it creates a DEFICIENCY of energy in the body, which is covered by the body's RESERVES (subcutaneous fat). That is why often people lose weight with a decrease in carbohydrates in the diet. Well, what will happen if you FULLY remove carbohydrates from the diet? Will it be even more effective in terms of fat burning? Answer: YES. And such a diet was very popular in the golden era of bodybuilding (it was promoted by Vince Gironde). It is called KETO DIET. shorturl.at/DJNT6 WHY DIET IS CALLED “KETO”?

    Because in the absence of carbohydrates, KETONS (ketone bodies) are produced from FAT as a source of energy for the brain and nervous system.

  19. David K says:

    Have to agree that the title is not accurate, because the 3500 calorie per pound rule refers to 3500 calories above or below your maintenance calories. The rule does not say that maintenance calories are constant – if it did, then it could just be called the 2500 calories per day rule or whatever. Why make people do a calculation if it involves two constants?

  20. Dr. Virginia Catherine Hart says:

    calories in vs calories out is ridiculous because no one can actually track their caloric intake or output without an error of almost 50% due to the fact that nutrition information is just estimates and calories burned depends on SO MANY FACTORS none of which can be accurately tracked unless you are in a laboratory 24/7

  21. Jonathan Sonnier says:

    If it is wrong, what is the correct number?

  22. TSB says:

    I can't stand this narrator with his hemming and hawing.

  23. Nick Thiers says:

    You haven't provided a single.piece of evidence here. When someone tells you to impliment a 500cal/day deficit to lose a lb a week they are correct, just as you are correct that the new baseline number from which to subtract from will change as body weight decreases. This isn't new. Followed by the fact one study was retracted and presto chango, everything we know is wrong. You offer no alternative. This is an underpants gnome argument. Step 1. Steal underpants. Step 2. ????? Step 3. Profit! Clickbait!!!!!

  24. scotty77 says:

    So basically, the 3500 calorie rule is right but expecting the same calorie requirement at 100 pounds as at 200 pounds is not. Duh.

  25. Brian Tomek says:

    I think that to mitigate this, one should simply eat the calories required to maintain their target weight. This should theoretically work with both losing weight, as well as bulking.

  26. Chris Fehr says:

    This is for people that aren't good at math. Smaller people require fewer calories than larger people for the same activity level. As you become smaller you need to reduce your calories to maintain a deficit. Once you are at the weight you want to be at you need to maintain a lower calorie intake than you did at your old weight or you will just wind up back where you started.

  27. James Bond says:

    Disingenuous and click-baity. You're better than that Greger.

  28. Angela says:

    that doesn't mean 3500 calorie per pound is wrong. it just means constant rate of calorie burning is wrong, assuming that the body loses or gains mass.

  29. Mike Skylark says:

    …like so many other ''rules'' in scientific literature.

  30. John Benedict says:

    This doesn't apply to this video subject but the website suggested that I post my question here. This is probably a subject nobody wants to talk about or admit to but here is my question. Are we directly or indirectly responsible for our children's health issues including cancers because of the food we feed them? If so, why don't we use this as a means to get more people on a plant based diet? I know it's cruel to suggest that we are killing our children but I hate to see so many children suffer when it could have been prevented in the first place. Like I said this is a touchy subject but I think it needs to be addressed.

  31. Daniel Fleming says:

    any good dietitian knows about shifting baselines and any one who has ever cut weight would know. only a nob would think that it was static. I multiply my weight by 11 then go 500 cal under and reweigh and recalculate every two weeks. that's what works for me but everyone is different so your numbers will be slightly different. an old body building friend and myself figured this out years ago when we would cut weight for shows and summer.

  32. Allostasis says:

    This video doesnt debunk 1 pound bodyfat being around 3500 calories. 1kg oil doesnt stop being 9000 calories because our metabolic rate changes with weight loss. The title is completely false. 1 pound bodyfat is still around 3500 calories, regardless of how your metabolic rate changes.

  33. dejan valjak says:

    3500 kcal per fat is = to 3500 kcal per fat… the metabolic adaptation is something else and I agree that this is a fact… but the other fact is those 3500 cal in 1 lbs per body fat…
    Losing fat is still = to losing 3500 kcal per 1 lbs body fat

  34. dionysusnow says:

    lets simplify this, just stop eating until you reach your desired weight. there , problem solved.

  35. kbkesq says:

    It’s not wrong- 3,500 calorie deficit is still equal to a pound of fat. What this is saying is that you won’t burn 3,500 calories as fast at a lower BMR. Big deal. This is a reach.

  36. ruud76 says:

    And this doesn’t even address the fact that weight loss via simply increasing exercise and reducing calories never works in the long-term. Why do they never have Biggest Loser reunion shows?

  37. arnemyggen says:

    The voice acting here is top notch!!

  38. truefuschniken says:

    ❤️❤️❤️

  39. Worm739 says:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/ Can you comment on this study, I read and seems to have some issues but wanted your take since a friend is convinced it means fiber is bad

  40. Emily BH says:

    Is there a formula based on your BMI, height and weight to determine the calories needed for a person to maintain or gain weight then? If so, what is it?

  41. Ideoform Sun says:

    To loose weight, don't eat when you are not hungry. Wait until your stomach growls and your mouth waters.
    Don't eat when you are angry, sad, or bored.
    Don't eat while watching television.
    Don't eat just before bed.
    Eat with other people.
    Make food from scratch. Learn to cook.
    Take a walk after dinner.
    Don't drink soda.
    Eat food that is local to your area.
    Eat foods that are in season.

    Try foraging food that are considered weeds. Many plants that are considered "weeds" were actually medicinal plants our great, great grandparents planted when they got here, for medicine and food.

    Get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin every day. No sunscreen. Don't wash your skin for 6 to 8 hours to let the vitamin D absorb into your body. Vitamin D helps your immune system, your bones, your sleep, and your moods. Try eating your lunch outside.

    Avoid high fructose corn syrup, which can have traces of mercury in it.
    Avoid processed vegetable oils which can have traces of hexane in it.
    Avoid trans fats, like hydrogenated fats.

    Avoid artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, and artificial flavorings like MSG, which are appetite stimulants.

    Avoid artificial food dyes like yellow dye #5, artificial preservatives, emulsifiers like guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, and propolyne glycol, which is antifreeze. These are inflammatory and irritating and can trigger allergies.

    There are many food colorings you can make yourself with foods that already have lots of color in them, like beets, blueberries and turmeric, or saffron, for red, blue and yellow. Brown can be cinnamon in small amounts, chocolate, or coffee. For black, use activated charcoal. Just cook and dry them, and grind it up into a powder. This also works for makeup.

    Avoid pesticide residues in food by choosing organic, going to your local farmers market and asking for food not sprayed, and growing your own kitchen garden. Pesticides hurt the good bacteria in your gut, as well as the mitochondria in your cells. And glyphosate exposure, like in Roundup, is carcinogenic, can cause birth defects, and weaken your bones, like DDT. Don't use Roundup in your home or yard.

    It's easy and cheaper to kill weeds, by buying a gallon of cheap cleaning vinegar. Dilute it with water by half into a garden spray bottle. Spray where you want to kill growth of any plant.

    Avoid cooking, storing and serving food and drinks in plastic. Plastic has plasticizers in it, which are hormone disrupters. This can lead to estrogen dominance, and can trigger reproductive tissue cancers like breast and prostate. Too much estrogen or estrogen mimickers, can cause weight gain, and feminizing of males.

    Carry a non-plastic water bottle, slip some bamboo utensils and straw into your bag, and buy in bulk, or from farmers markets where you can bring your own packaging in the form of a cloth bag. When I am not having to go through security checkpoints, I carry actual fancy silverware I found at an antique store. Silver is antimicrobial and safe to use. I wrap it in a fancy embroidered cloth napkin, also from the antique store. This is great for when I go to certain restaurants that don't clean their silverware well enough.

    Avoid getting mercury (silver) fillings. The dentist calls them "silver" fillings, but there is no silver in them. If you have them, consider getting them removed by a holistic dentist who knows how to do it safely. Mercury, even in very small amounts, causes all kinds of metabolic and nervous system problems.

    Avoid cooking, storing, and serving food in aluminum. Aluminum is very toxic to the nervous system, and is implicated in dementia.
    Use glass, parchment paper, corningware, cast iron, canning jars to store and freeze food.

    Avoid drinking Fluoride. It's meant to be applied topically to the teeth with medical grade Fluoride. Drinking any Fluoride at all is toxic to bones, can cause bone cancer in teenage boys, and hurts your gut microbiome because it works like an antibiotic. The fluoride added to city water is never medical grade and is always contaminated with many other toxins like arsenic, cyanide and lead.

    Call or write to your favorite food manufacturers and ask for these changes. Usually you get a coupon for giving any feedback to them because they like knowing what people want. I've seen changes I've asked for in many products and stores. It might take a year, but it has happened.

  42. Elizabeth Kirkeide says:

    There is nothing wrong with the 3500 calorie/lb estimate the problem is your math. The 150-pound woman if sedentary needs 150 x 13 cal/lb/day to maintain her weight. 1950 cal/day If she wants to weigh 120 lbs she only needs 120x13cal/day/ib, 1560 cal/day. If she starts eating 1560 cal/day she will create a 390cal/day deficit. 3500/390 equals 8.97 or 9 days to lose the first pound. The next pound will take slightly longer because she now needs only 1937 calories to maintain her weight. If she contiues to eat what a 120 lb. person needs she will lose all her excess weight in 18 months.
    To say cut 500 calories /day means nothing if you don't know how much you are eating.
    There is nothing wrong with the math people simply have no idea how much they are eating, and how much they should eat.

  43. stgermaing says:

    Makes sense! I’ve lost about 100 pounds so far on my diet/exercise journey and honestly was super easy in the beginning and gradually I required less calories and more exercise to get the same results.

  44. egal says:

    You willfully misinterpreted the rule, thinking you were proving a point, when all you proved is you don't understand basic concepts.

  45. Alex Van Bennen says:

    This doesn't make the rule wrong. This title is misleading.

  46. Sarah Christine says:

    always knew this, i eat on average 2,500 – 3,000 calories a day and weigh 110lbs at 5'1 and when id reduce my calories by 300-500 per day my weight would drop dramatically, id lose 1 or 2 lbs per day.

  47. RobertTheBruce says:

    If the metabolic rate decreases that will also decrease the net calory deficit, unless it is counteracted by more energy expenditure or less intake. So the rule is still correct (within reasonable degrees of accuracy). The people in your examples do not have a constant 500 calory / day deficit otherwise yes they would die eventually. But to keep having a 500 calory deficit while losing a ton of weight they would have to work out more and eat less to compensate and stay at -500cal/day. This whole video is devoid of logic!

  48. Gymson says:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, 3500 calorie will still be about a pound. How much effort you need to burn 3500 calories varies.

  49. Simran Wasu says:

    C’mon Dr. Gregor, I love all your videos as they are extremely informative but this one isn’t up to the mark and is click baity. The 3500 calorie rule is almost always included with a description of TDEE and how that depends primarily on your body weight. Obviously your TDEE changes as you lose or gain weight and so the calorie deficit is calculated against your current TDEE. However, it should go without saying that maintaining a true 500 calorie deficit isn’t recommended once you are near a healthy weight as you would eventually starve and die. This is not to say that just eating less is better than eating a healthy diet.

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