According to the Mayo Clinic, the general method of weight loss requires a person to consume fewer calories than she burns each day to create a "calorie deficit." Most healthy individuals lose a pound by achieving a 3,500 calorie deficit over a set period of time. For instance, losing 4 pounds in a month requires a calorie deficit of approximately 500 calories per day.
According to the National Institute of Health, the precise calorie deficit required to lose a pound varies somewhat by person, with women requiring a higher calorie deficit than men. People with a low percentage of body fat also require a higher calorie deficit to lose weight than individuals with a high percentage of body fat.
As the Mayo Clinic details, maintaining a calorie deficit to lose pounds can involve calorie cutting by eliminating high-calorie food with low nutritional value, replacing high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods and reducing portion sizes. In addition to keeping a healthy diet, the Mayo Clinic recommends regular exercise to burn more calories.
Even low-intensity exercise, such as walking and climbing stairs, aids in weight loss, as explained by the National Institute of Health. The Institute recommends between 150 to 300 minutes of exercise a week, achievable through just 30 minutes of exercise each day.