Three-thousand five hundred calories equals one pound. So to lose one pound you have to burn 500 extra calories a day for a week or reduce calories by 500 a day for a week.
"Women consume between 1,500-1,800 calories a day, men consume between 2,100 to 2,300 calories a day," said Rebecca Reeve with Baylor College of Medicine.
So dropping 500 calories a day is a lot. Baylor's Dr. Rebecca Reeve is the former president of the American Dietetic Association. And she says brand new research found eating at night, really does put on more weight.
"Research is now saying that calories are much more likely to go into fat than if they were eaten during the day," said Reeve.
What trips us up are often little things, like wrapped candy.
"How many wrappers are in front of you before you leave the meeting? That could easily be 50-60 calories right there," said Reeve.
An extra 100 calories a day, equivalent to a slice and a half of bread, can add 10 pounds a year. But if you cut out 100 calories a day, you can lose 10 pounds in a year.
"We eat so unconsciously," said Reeve. "We have no idea what we're eating."
And as many of us suspected, age is an enemy. Studies show that beginning at age 40, our metabolic rate -- the rate we burn calories slows five percent ever decade.
"That may not sound like a lot but as we grow older we're also becoming more sedentary," said Reeve.
So she advises starting the New Year, not with a diet -- but a notebook.
"Keep a food record and do a true analysis of what you're eating. Really look at how often you eat, what kind of food you're eating the proportions you're eating," said Reeve.
Then make the easiest changes first and forgive yourself for food mistakes.
- Avoid the coffee pot if there are goodies always around it.
- Don't eat after 7pm.
- Take healthy snacks to work with you so you can avoid the vending machines and take it one day at a time.
Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter