Notwithstanding the myriad of miracle weight loss pills, potions, routines, machines, and who-knows what else, its really simple math. How much do you eat vs how much do you burn? I can hear you out there shouting at me, "If its so easy, why can't I lose weight, you friggin' egghead?!!!" Let me clarify, the math is easy. Getting that equation to balance in your favor (whether you're trying to lose like most people, or gain weight) is the challenging part.
In order to be successful you have to know both sides of the equation. Obviously people are familiar with calories and a few actually accurately track what they are eating. Most don't. Have you noticed portion sizes in the US? Check out the picture showing how they've increased over the years. Its insane! That's another blog altogether.
The non-calorie-counting side of the equation is how much you burn, your metabolic rate. Sure, you've seen calories burned when working out on an elliptical, treadmill or bike. Maybe that even makes you feel like its time for a reward. But what's your resting (or basal) metabolic rate*? That's what you really need to know to be successful. Most people don't know it and to get a really accurate measurement requires laboratory gas exchange analysis. However, you can get an idea using calculators found online. Be wary though as you can find some fast differences between how they do calculations. One of the better ones I've found is CaloriesPerHour.com... You enter in your age, weight, height and gender and it provides you your basal metabolic rate, resting metabolic rate and estimated calories burned on a daily basis according to your activity level. Pretty cool, try it and see what you get.
So now you've got your basal metabolic rate and estimate of what you burn based on your daily exertion level. In order to make a change to your weight, whether or not its increasing or decreasing, you'll want to insure that your consumption of calories isn't outside of the healthy target for what you're aiming to do, typically no more than a 500 calorie differential per day. A coming blog will outline some strategies you can use to track the other side of the equation - what are you putting in your head? Not just what you think you are, but what you actually are. You'll be surprised.
To paraphrase the most interesting man in the world, "Eat Healthy My Friends!"
Author: DrKPMay - *I use resting and basal metabolic rate interchangeably. They are actually not the same thing but close enough for my purposes. If you'd like to learn more about the differences, go here AceFitness.org...