A pound of fat is equivalent to approximately 3,500 excess calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because weight loss is the result of creating a caloric deficit, you can lose about a pound per week by consuming 3,500 fewer calories than you normally take in weekly. Organization, discipline and simple math can help you reach this goal.
Determine Caloric Intake
Spend one week eating the foods you normally eat. Record everything you take in, including beverages and condiments. If you use a pen and paper, carry a small notepad with you. You can also record it on your computer or on a more convenient device, such as your phone.
Look up the number of calories in each item on Livestrong.com's MyPlate or another free nutrition resource and record them. Pay attention to serving sizes to make sure you get the most accurate numbers possible.
Add it all together to determine the number of calories you normally consume each week. Continuing this diet would cause you to either maintain your current weight or gain weight.
Reduce Your Caloric Intake
Subtract 3,500 from your weekly caloric intake. If you normally take in 15,000 calories, your number is now 11,500.
Divide by seven to determine the number of calories you should be taking in daily. If your goal is 11,500 calories per week, your daily goal is about 1,640 calories per day.
Write down everything you eat for one week again, including your caloric intake for each item, but do not exceed your reduced number each day. Be thorough. If you eat a sandwich, look up every ingredient on the sandwich.
- To reduce your caloric intake without eating significantly less food, cut out high-fat ingredients, such as butter or mayonnaise, and increase your intake of fiber and protein, which will help fill you up and keep your appetite satisfied. Avoid high-calorie beverages and replace them with calorie-free water.
- Avoid food high in saturated fat. A gram of fat has nine calories, while a gram of carbohydrates or protein has four calories. Check labels to keep your fat intake below 30 percent of your total caloric intake and opt for food containing healthy unsaturated fat, such as plant-based oils, nuts and fish.
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.