Basal Metabolic Rate: What Is It And How It Affects Your Weight Loss
Losing weight seems like it should be easy. After all, there are entire television shows dedicated to showing you successful losers. The truth is that weight loss is a complex process. Part of your success involves having the knowledge you need about how your body processes calories. Learning what your basal metabolic rate is can help you get those unwanted pounds off for good.
What is Basal Metabolic Rate?
In the simplest of terms, your BMR is how many calories your body uses by just being alive. Your body uses calories from the foods you consume to keep you breathing, maintain your body temperature at an appropriate level, and move blood through your body. Your body must also have enough energy to keep your brain, nerves, and cells working, while at the same time making sure your muscles are able to move.
How is BMR Calculated?
The easiest way to calculate your BMR is to use a calculator that you can find on the Internet, but you can also perform the calculations yourself using the standard Harris-Benedict equation. If you are a man, the formula is: (13.75 x your weight in kg) + (5 x your height in cm) - (6.76 x your age) + 66. If you are a woman, the formula is: (9.56 x your weight in kg) + (1.85 x your height in cm) - (4.68 x your age) + 655.
What Influences Your BMR?
Several factors influence your BMR. The older you are the lower your BMR becuase BMR naturally decreases with age. A shorter person will have a lower BMR than a taller person and someone who weighs less has a lower BMR than someone heavier. In general men have a higher BMR than women.
How Does Activity Affect Your BMR?
Your activity level affects your BMR because you are moving throughout the day. The more active you are, the higher BMR and the more calories you burn. If you are a sedentary person, multiply your BMR by 1.2 to get your daily BMR. A lightly active or moderately active person needs to multiply his BMR by 1.375 or 1.55, respectively. If you are very active or extremely active, multiply your BMR by 1.725 or 1.9, respectively. For example, if your BMR is 1,500 and you are moderately active, your BMR with daily activity is 2,325, meaning you are burning about 2,325 calories with daily activity and normal body functions.
Can You Change Your BMR?
Basal metabolic rates change as you age whether you want it to or not. Your BMR decreases as you lose weight, meaning your body requires fewer calories to survive. If you begin a strength training program and build lean muscle mass, your BMR increases because your body needs to work harder to sustain more muscle mass. The more active you are, the higher your BMR.
How Does BMR Affect Your Weight Loss?
If your BMR is 1,500 calories a day based on your age, height, and gender, you know that to maintain your current weight with no exercise or additional activity you have to eat about 1,500 calories. Adding moderate activity enables you to eat about 2,325 calories and still maintain your weight. This is where calorie reduction comes into play. When you eat fewer calories than you body requires and burn more calories through exercise, you will begin to see your weight decrease.
Understanding how your BMR influences your weight can help you avoid the mistake that many people make when dieting. Instead of getting frustrated over weight loss plateaus, remind yourself that your BMR has decreased because of your weight loss and you need to adjust your calories slightly or increase the number of calories you burn in order to get your weight loss moving again.