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FAQ: Calories to lose weight
You may have heard the claim that you should run more slowly to burn more fat. My local gym has signs suggesting that if you want to burn fat, you should exercise in a "fat burning" heart rate zone.
This idea is based on a misunderstanding of the science. It is true that when you exercise at a lower intensity, your body is able to draw more of the energy directly from fat. But it is not correct to conclude that exercising at this lower intensity will result in your having lower overall body fat.
There are two reasons why the claim about a "fat burning zone" is wrong.
In other words, the fat burning zone is a myth caused by misunderstanding the science.
To lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. The extra calories you burn will be taken from your body fat.
Suppose your daily calorie requirement is 2800 kcal per day; and suppose that you consume 2710 kcal per day. Then you are consuming 90 kcal a day fewer than you are burning. Because fat is about 9 calories per gramme, you will lose about 10 grammes of body fat a day.
You can reduce weight either by reducing your calorie intake (eg by eating smaller portions) or by increasing your daily calorie requirement (eg by exercising more) or both.
If you do decide you want to reduce your body fat, you should not attempt
to lose weight too rapidly. In particular, you should not aim to lose more than ½ kg a week; nor should you try to consume less than
The best approach to estimating how fast you should be losing weight is:
|Version 1.0 © Owen Barder 2004
Nederlandse versie 1.0 © Dick Leseman 2006