What Is the Calorie Burn to Calorie Intake Ratio Supposed to Be in Order to Lose Weight?

Don't be too concerned if the scale doesn't budge -- you may be gaining muscle.
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Losing weight requires you burn more calories than you take in. Generally, it’s that simple. You don’t have to burn all the calories needed to meet the ratio requirements though -- you can also make some changes to your diet. Just to be on the safe side, check with your physician before starting your new weight-loss plan to rule out any health issues that might impact your success.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

    To lose weight, you need to use up more calories than you get from the foods you eat. The ratio for weight loss is a deficit of 3,500 calories for 1 pound of body weight, reports MayoClinic.com. This means that if you want to lose a pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories, cut 3,500 calories from your diet or do a combination of both.

Meeting the Ratio

    If your goal is to shed 1 pound a week, you’ll need to burn off 3,500 calories weekly, or 500 calories a day. That’s a lot of time in the gym, and you may not be able to fit all that into your schedule. It might be more realistic for you to cut 250 calories from your daily diet and then schedule a workout that burns the remaining 250 calories. This way you can meet your goal of 1 pound of weight loss each week.

Making Dietary Changes

    Start by nixing that morning latte and switch to black coffee instead. You can cut out as much as 250 calories just by making that one little change. Use skim milk in place of whole milk -- just 85 calories in 8 ounces versus 150 calories from whole milk. Order small sizes, instead of medium or large portions and use low or nonfat items as often as possible. You’ll easily shave calories from each meal -- you won’t even miss them.

Calories Burned

    Don’t worry if you don’t belong to a gym, just tie on your running shoes. Running at a pace of 5 mph uses up 240 calories per half hour, at a weight of 125 pounds, or almost 300 calories if you weigh 155 pounds. If you have access to a pool, go swim laps. At 125 pounds, you’ll burn 300 calories for every 30 minutes you swim. But if you’re at a weight of 155 pounds, you’ll burn over 370 calories in a half hour. Cycling is another way to go -- indoors or out. You’ll use up 300 calories in 30 minutes -- at a weight of 125 pounds -- if you pedal at 15 mph. At 155 pounds, you’ll burn around 370 calories going the same pace for the same amount of time.

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