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How Many Calories Do I Need to Burn to Lose One Pound?


Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A woman running near the Teton mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jordan Siemens/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Question: How Many Calories Do I Need to Burn to Lose One Pound?

Answer: To lose a pound, you have to burn, through exercise or life functions, about 3500 calories.

A safe, healthy weight loss rate is about one to two pounds per week. If your weight loss is faster than that, you may be losing muscle mass in addition to fat. To average one pound lost per week, you need to burn an additional 500 calories per day. If you're running for weight loss, that means you would need to average about 5 miles per day, since the average runner burns about 100 calories per mile.

If you don't have the time or energy to burn the 500 calories a day by running or doing other exercise, you could use a combination of calorie reduction and exercise. For example, if you ran 3 miles (approximately 300 calories burned) every day, you would also need to reduce your recommended calorie intake by 200 calories each day.

Of course, it's important to figure out how many calories you need each day, since the USDA 2000 calorie diet is only a recommendation. Use this Daily Caloric Expenditure calculator to determine how many calories you actually need each day.

More Weight Loss FAQs:
How Many Calories Does Running Burn?
Why Am I Not Losing Weight With Running?
How Can I Get Over a Weight Loss Wall?
How Can I Avoid Feeling Hungry All the Time?
Can I Burn Fat By Running?

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