Money Wise--How Losing Weight Adds Up

You know what your Social Security number is. You know what your phone number is. But do you know the number for your resting metabolic rate? Knowing it may be the key to helping you lose weight.

This may be the secret to why your friend can diet and the pounds just melt away, while you struggle and nothing seems to come off.

"Your resting metabolic rate tells you how many calories your tissues are burning when you're at rest," explained Dr. Steven Heymsfield with St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. "And usually that accounts for two-thirds of the total energy you've spent in a day."

So, how do you get your rate? Through a little device called a Body Gem. "You're going to breathe through this Body Gem for a maximum of ten minutes. In the end, you're going to get your resting metabolic rate," said the hospital's Frederick Rubiano.

And people with similar traits can have very different rates. Take Lynda and Reaghan: both women are roughly the same height and age. But Lynda's resting metabolic rate is 1420 kilocalories per day and Reaghan's is 1500, meaning her body naturally burns more calories than Lynda's.

Dr. Heymsfield uses a simple formula to determine how many calories each woman actually takes in each day. As it turns out, because of her higher metabolism, Reaghan could eat more than Lynda, assuming both went on diets, and still lose weight.

To find out where you stand in the calorie wars, you'll have to go to a doctor or health club that carries the Body Gem. A test can run anywhere from $39 to $99.

And here's another tip: did you know that your metabolism isn't entirely genetic? Good Housekeeping says that genes dictate less than half of your metabolism, so you can do a lot to boost your metabolism and lose weight.

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Reported by: Dmitra Denmark,