For everyone trying to lose weight this year, I'll tell you a secret: there is no secret when it comes to losing weight. Regardless of what diet books tell you there is no magical combination of foods that will make the pounds melt off. When it comes to weight loss the secret to success is a matter of how many calories you put in your body and how many calories you burn.

Every person burns a different amount of calories at rest, which is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories you need to stay alive, basically. The more active you are, the more calories you burn, and in turn, the more calories you need on top of your BMR.

An Olympic athlete will burn at least twice as many calories as an average sedentary person due to the difference in activity level and lean body mass. Therefore, it will take twice as many calories for the athlete to maintain his or her weight than the person who is not exercising.

So, how do you increase your BMR? Your lean body mass is your metabolically active tissue, or in other words, it is the part of your body that burns calories. The more lean body mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest.

So, how do you increase your lean body mass? There are several ways to do this. One way is to go on a modest calorie restriction with the correct proportion of carbohydrates, fat and protein to decrease body fat. Another way, which works best if you coincide this with the diet, is to start an exercise routine, including a good mix of aerobic exercise and weight training.

If you are curious how many calories you burn at rest, a Registered Dietitian can estimate that for you and design a weight loss plan around how many calories you need to lose weight. For the exercise portion of your weight loss plan you can ask a personal trainer to design an exercise plan to coincide with your diet.

As a general rule of thumb, if you participate in moderate intensity exercise for 200-300 minutes per week you will maintain the weight you are losing with your diet. One example of 200-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise includes: walking briskly for 45-60 minutes 5-6 days per week. Include weight training at least twice per week to try to build more lean body mass.

Call EJGH Outpatient Nutrition at (504) 849-6801 to find out how to schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian.