There is no perfect solution or magic bullet to maintaining one’s weight, losing, or gaining. It all depends on your build, fitness level, gender, level of activity, and ratio of muscle to fat. Unfortunately this can cause a lot of people to be impatient and try “quick” solutions: pills, surgery, or crazy fad diets.
What really works is this: eat healthy–and learn what “healthy” really means!–exercise regularly, and figure out what you’re burning versus what you’re putting in through a website like cronometer.com, myfitnesspal.com, etc. Tracking can make the difference between gaining 20 lbs in a year or losing the same amount. It takes 3500 calories to create one pound of fat. Cut out 500 calories per day and you could lose up to 50 lbs or more in a year. Park your car further away from the office and walk. Take the stairs as opposed to the elevator or escalator. Drink water and tea instead of soda. Also, the calories you want to eliminate are the unhealthy ones. Eating 1500 calories of fried food, fast food, candies and baked goods will not help you be healthy. However 1500 calories of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will make the difference and will give you the energy you need to increase your activity level.
However, there are times when cutting your calories will NOT help you. If you’re already eating less than 1200 calories on a regular basis and are overweight, it’s because your body is holding onto what it can. You are starving! You may not look it to either yourself or the outside world, but that is what can also cause the pounds to pack on. Eat at least 1200 calories a day–more if you workout!–and have the calories come from quality food as much as possible.
See what I mean by one size not fitting all? You may need to cut your calories. You may need to INCREASE them! You may need to switch up your activities, change your activity level, eat differently, etc. This is why it’s good to track what you’re doing and how you feel each day in addition to your measurements: both scale AND tape measure.
There are a number of reasonable books on the subject of eating healthy. I think the two most influential to me thus far have been The 80/10/10 Diet
by Dr Doug Graham and The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds by Kip Esselstyn. The idea of eliminating processed foods and eating as much fruits and vegetables as possible is neither new nor radical. It’s an essential blueprint to health.