But your results won’t last.
If you chugged water, you’ll soon pee it out, naturally. If you gobbled quarter pounders, there’s a host of factors that determine how much of that weight actually sticks to you, says Heather Caplan, a Washington, D.C.-based registered dietitian.
First, know that calories are fuel. When you eat, your body uses some of those calories immediately and stores some of them for later.
What determines which calories go where? Well, what else have you recently eaten? When did you last workout? Did you just roll out of bed? Many factors influence calorie burn.
“Even digestion requires energy,” says Caplan. “High protein meals are often the most thermogenic,” she adds. Some estimates say that you may burn up to a quarter of protein calories just by digesting them.
Just for fun, let’s pretend you just carnivore-d your way through a medium-rare rib eye.
“Sixteen ounces of steak could be well over 1,000 calories,” explains Caplan.
And because a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, the most basic math would suggest gains of about one-third of a pound, she adds.
But that would be wrong. Caplan says the one-pound-equals-3,500-calories-myth is one of the most pervasive misconceptions in her field.
The research for this number comes from a 1958 study, and more recent analysis of this long-held belief shows that it simply does not work that way, Caplan explains.
That’s because weight gain is affected by basal metabolic rates (energy the body needs to use to maintain systems), energy levels, lifestyle, and body composition, she says.
As many dieters know, you can cut 3,500 calories from your diet and still not see a pound drop off that scale.
While a pound of burgers won’t attach a full pound of flab to your gut, it’s hard to know exactly how much weight—if any—it will translate to.
So instead of focusing on the weight of what you eat, look instead at the nutrients you’re eating per pound.
Kale is stuffed with good-for-you stuff and eating a pound of it would be a gastronomic feat.
Empty carb burger buns? Not so much.