1 pound of fat

Understanding Weight Loss

Did you know that you need to ‘save’ 3500 calories per week for every 1 lb you wish to lose? Think about that – 3500 calories per 1 lb. That’s a saving of 7000 calories to lose 2 lbs and a saving of 10500 calories to lose 3 lbs!! Therefore there is no doubt at all that the best way to ‘save’ calories and get great weight loss comes from a combination of these 3 key elements – food change, exercise and metabolism correction. This is the only possible way you can consistently ‘save’ such large amounts of calories. Indeed because your metabolism is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is the most powerful weight loss key of all. Its contribution to calorie burning is huge. Without a good metabolism your calorie burning will be very small and so will be your results!

The Balance

Balance within these 3 key elements is very important. Your food level needs to support both your metabolism and your exercise. Under-eating slows your metabolism very rapidly and also makes exercise very hard. Your exercise on the other hand must be at a level that improves your metabolism. You also need to be careful to avoid things that can slow your metabolism despite being good with your food and exercise – long gaps between food, not enough sleep, too much alcohol, over-reliance on medications, over use of artificial sweeteners or caffeine, these are just some of the things that can really slow your metabolism.

Common Weight Loss Faults:


More and more exercise isn’t better! If you have to do more than 5 fat burning workouts in a week to see results you need to take a serious look at other keys to weight loss e.g. food, nutrition, toning or sleep. You cannot exercise your way to great weight loss because you simply cannot burn enough calories for real results. At 3500 calories per 1 lb fat loss, it would take about 8 hours of exercise to lose just 1 lb a week! Another form of over-exercising is two exercise sessions on the same day. This normally makes weight loss worse and not better.

Monday to Friday Weight Loss

Good during the week but then over-rewarding yourself at the weekends. This is a very common weight loss mistake. People often do great Monday to Friday saving 5000 or 6000 calories but then eat or drink back on 2000 or 3000 extra calories over the weekend. The net result is that they have now only saved a total of 3000 calories over the week which is less than 1 lb of fat and with day to day fluid fluctuations this might not even show on the scales.

Weight Loss In The Head

Not following a set plan or tracking what you do. You cannot do weight loss ‘in your head’ for many reasons. First we overestimate how good we are and we tend to minimise the bad. We also forget lots of details. It is also impossible to judge progress without a written record, especially progress in exercise. Weight loss requires precision not estimation. If for example you overeat by just 100 calories per day then that becomes 700 calories per week which for most people is 2 good 1 hour workouts wiped out! You’ve got to have a structure to lose weight consistently, otherwise you might do well for a week or two and then weight loss becomes hit and miss!

Listening to Too Many Opinions

This person jumps from week to week to different things, resulting in not enough consistency to get any real results. They are listening to too many people and too many ideas. They are really waiting for a miracle and the bottom line is there really is no weight loss miracle. Sooner or later you will have to make the changes we talk about or else live with your weight forever. It is vital to stick with one plan and test it properly. Sure by all means ask questions in the beginning and make sure you believe in the plan, but then commit and give that plan a proper chance to work. Mixing too many different ideas effectively means you are not on any plan at all.

Emotional Eating

This is where occasional or even regular events get on top of you and trigger an episode of comfort eating or even binge eating. This can often be ‘unconscious’ eating in that you sometimes you will not even remember the episode or even the quantity of food eaten. One episode of emotional eating can wipe out several days of good dieting, making weight loss very difficult. Under all over-eating is unhappiness that has not been dealt with and the food is used instead of confronting the unhappiness. Unless you identify and deal with the unhappiness emotional eating could always sabotage your weight loss. Identify who is causing your unhappiness and open with the words ‘this isn’t working for me’ to start to look for a solution to the situation.


This can be based on the belief that the less you eat the more you will lose. If only this worked! There are many people who would love to eat like that because they are ‘too busy’ for food. The problem is that this kills your metabolism very rapidly and health problems will follow soon. Just 4 days of under-eating can really slump your thyroid – your main metabolism gland. Once you get a slumped metabolism it can take weeks to fix it so don’t go there in the first place. For many people under-eating is the main reason they are overweight in the first place.


This is a massive factor in weight loss. Less than 7 hours of sleep per night OR broken sleep really upsets the metabolism and can stop weight loss dead despite your best efforts with food and exercise. If you are getting poor sleep it should be a priority to try and correct it and your food and exercise might need to be adjusted to help counter-balance the impact it has on your metabolism. Often this means more food and less exercise so that your metabolism speeds up despite the lack of sleep!

Hidden factors

This can be a factor if you eat out a lot or someone else cooks for you. Butter can easily turn that healthy 200 calorie piece of fish into a 500 calorie monster! Or butter can easily turn that 80 calorie vegetable portion into a 300 calorie weight gaining portion. Sauces can easily do the same thing as can hidden sugars or artificial sweeteners. Homemade food might be healthier than processed food but it can often have a huge amount of calories. It’s not just about quality but calorie level too.


Toning is the most powerful way to increase your metabolic rate. Every 1lb of toned muscle added burns 300 calories extra per week! That’s 15,600 calories per year equivalent to losing 4.5 lbs of fat. If you can add 5 lbs of muscle tone (and most of us need this or more), you will be getting slimmer and firmer but you will burn 22.5 lbs of fat per year and that before you even begin to change your diet or do cardio. Missing your toning is a huge weight loss mistake! However toning must be done right! Some people think they are getting the muscle ‘burn’ when really the exercise is too easy and they are not toning at all. If you finish an exercise and feel you could have done 5 more repetitions if really pushed then it probably isn’t toning you in the first place. Make sure your toning is REAL toning!


This person thinks they are good with the plan but is making so many small tweaks that they are really not on the plan at all! 50 calories here and there easily can become 200 to 300 calories a day or 1400 to 2100 calories per week. Add to this a few tweaks to the exercise and a few habits that slow your metabolism and your total calorie saving quickly dries up! By the time you get to the scales the results are done.

Too Intense!

This is a huge mistake in weight loss. At higher levels you burn more calories but less fat calories. The effort triggers a different metabolic response often resulting in more cravings and over-eating. On top of all that you are prone to burnout and injuries. Sometimes this approach to training is a form of compensation for not being good with your food plan. High intensity training is especially bad for people with already weak metabolism or suffering from low energy or fatigue.

Fat Burning Time

It takes 15 to 20 minutes of exercise before you begin to burn significant amounts of fat. Therefore those who do only 30 minute workouts should not be surprised at slow results. You are really only burning large amounts of fat for 10 minutes plus you are losing out on multiple other metabolism improvements. The ideal fat burning workout is 60 to 70 minutes of non-stop cardio done at the right heart rate zone to suit your age, fitness and metabolism. The more time you spend at your correct training zone the better.


This is one of the biggest enemies of weight loss and needs to be carefully controlled. Every pint or large glass of wine can wipe out 1 hours workout. Now we encourage a few drinks every week and have it built into our plan but once you beyond this limit the damage to your results can be huge. Alcohol is one of the most devastating metabolism disrupters of all. It dehydrates you, unbalances hormones and depletes key vitamins and minerals, upsetting multiple parts of your metabolism. The impact can be huge especially if you have a weak metabolism to begin with.  Of course all this doesn’t include the fry up (typically 1000 calories), the other poor eating and the missed exercise which will probably happen during the recovery process.

I hope you have gotten some benefit from this article. If so please share it with others.

For more information on the key components of your Metabolism and the signs of a weak Metabolism click here

If you have any questions about anything above please email me at david@system10.ie and I will reply.

Thanks for reading,

David McDonagh (Nutritionist, fitness trainer & creator of System 10 Weight Loss)

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My system is about real weight loss done the right way! My plan takes into account all the above reasons and more and makes sure weight loss will work for you. Don’t miss my NEW online plan starting soon where you can lose 10+ lbs in 4 weeks or 20+ Ibs in 8 weeks and get an amazing change in shape because it is real weight loss. Click here for more details on these options. Alternatively arrange a one to one consultation in your nearest clinic by clicking here.

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