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A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories of energy. It has been suggested that “you need to eat 3,500 fewer calories to lose a pound of fat” or conversely, eat 3,500 calories above baseline to gain a pound of fat. Actually, this isn’t really the case. Here’s why?


  1. Many overeaters compensate their overeating behaviour by underrating or being more active days after.


This limits the potential for fat gain as energy balance can be levelled out in favour of weight maintenance and even fat loss. I’m not a big fan of this, as dieting super hard one day and not the next can lead to massive shifts in mood and energy levels.


  1. The type of food you overeat matters a great deal.


Calories from carbs can be stored as muscle and liver glycogen, with an average around 300 to 500 grams. Different people have different amounts of stored carbohydrate in their bodies.


Those with fuller glycogen stores are at greater risk of fat gain, whilst those with lower stores (as a result of exercise or planned ‘low carb’ eating) have the potential to eat more calories from carbs, before it turns to fat.


  1. Protein is difficult to overeat.


It suppresses appetite and boosts thermogenesis. (the body uses more energy to process it)


  1. Fat is stored as … fat (with little effort) It’s also easy to overeat.


  1. Alcohol calories are simply too easy to consume (even more so when stocious).

The body burns up alcohol for energy (to avoid alcohol toxicity), which reduces the body’s ability to burn fat and other fuel sources. Also, appetite is an issue when drinking, especially when the night comes to an end.


Take Home


The 3,500 kcal for 1lb of body fat isn’t that simple. Consider all of these points the next time you over eat.