But—sorry to break it to you—burning a pound of fat isn't as simple as burning through 3,500 calories.
Consider the following and infuriating (at least for thin guys) scenario: Two men go on an exercise and eating plan so that they consume 3,500 fewer calories per week than they burn. One man has five pounds to lose; the other has 50. At the end of one week, the leaner guy might lose about half a pound—and a third of the weight will be from muscle. Meanwhile, the obese guy will have lost more than three pounds, mostly from fat and water.
"There's tremendous variability in how a 3,500 caloric deficit affects different people," says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science adviser at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix.
Why's that? Well, one huge factor determining the results of our dieters is body composition. "The more fat a person has to give, the quicker he will lose weight and weight from fat," Peeke explains. Meanwhile, when you get closer to your body weight, your body holds on to fat stores for dear life and sacrifices muscle over fat, she says. The body is perpetually afraid that it will starve; it's perhaps biology's least-sexy-ever survival mechanism.
Meanwhile, how you try to hit your caloric deficit (which is a necessity to lose weight) has a huge impact on whether you lose weight from muscle, fat, or just water.
The faster you try to achieve a deficit, the more weight you will lose from muscle as opposed to fat. As will be the case if you diet alone, she says. However, exercise—and most markedly, strength training—and protein consumption promote muscle growth so that you will not lose as much muscle. In fact, if you consume an adequate amount of protein (the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends getting 20 to 30 grams, four times a day and after exercise), you could potentially increase your lean-muscle mass while reducing your body-fat percentage. Everone will burn calories different. The easiest and most important way to lose fat is ignoring all magazines, pills and diets. Remember, fat loss is not a diet but lifestyle change.
A tip that has helped me in the past was knowing that I am better than yesterday. That better feeling doesn't have to be a smaller number on a scale, downsized jeans or any other marketing gig. focus on how you feel. That will be all the internal feedback you need. love yourself always.