Whether you’re someone looking to shed a few pounds, or someone looking for a more substantial lifestyle change, weight loss doesn’t always have to be a painful experience. A method that many have found successful has been approaching weight loss as a simple math problem: EnergyIn ‒ EnergyOut = EnergyChange.

Essentially, if you take in more energy than you expend, your body will store the energy as fat. Likewise if you expend more energy than you take in, your body will burn fat to make up for what is called the Caloric Deficit.

In the above equation, there are three variables that need to be considered. Starting with EnergyChange is like starting with your weight loss goal. Each pound of fat is worth about 3500 calories. A sensible goal is about two to three pounds per week. Two pounds of fat lost per week is 7,000 calories or 1,000 calories per day as a Caloric Deficit.

After determining your goal, determine how much energy you burn per day (EnergyOut). Most adult males can expect an average of 2,000 calories burned per day just walking around and breathing. This would mean that a man would have to eat only 1,000 calories per day if he wanted to lose two pounds per week and not exercise. This is why doctors and health professionals suggest that any successful weight loss diet must be combined with exercise.

Most health professionals suggest doing some sort of activity that raises your heart rate for 30 minutes to an hour per day as being effective for weight loss. The human heart is like a constantly running water pump. The faster and the longer it pumps, the more energy (calories) will be burned. Jogging and swimming are time-tested and have been proven to be very effective exercise.

The final thing to consider is EnergyIn. Fad diets that restrict you from eating carbs or forcing you to only drink smoothies are rarely successful. The easiest way to approach the diet is to think sensibly. Listen to the little voice in your head that tells you to grab a piece of fruit instead of the potato chips. Get a chicken salad at that fast food restaurant instead of a burger. If you use common sense, exercise a little bit every day, and stick to the formula, the weight should start falling off!