When making a personalized fitness plan, it helps to get back to basics. In addition to watching what you eat and what kind of exercise you get, learning more about your BMR is an important step in managing your daily fitness. Simply put, BMR is the amount of energy your body expends to perform its basic functions. By estimating your BMR and learning how fit fits into your overall fitness picture, you can begin living a healthier life.
BMR is just one of several vital signs you should be checking regularly. Learn more here.
Our bodies gain calories by consuming food and burn them by performing tasks like walking and lifting objects. That should be a well-known fact to almost everyone, but what you might not know is that our bodies are always working, even when we’re lying on the sofa or are sound asleep. The total calories burned during these times is called BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate.
You might be surprised at just how much work your body is doing during these times. Breathing, circulating blood, and producing cells all burn your body’s fuel. While the total calories burned by these activities is relatively small compared to exercising, knowing your BMR is an important part of maintaining your health.
Knowing your BMR can help you understand the minimum calories your body needs to function; which can serve as an essential starting point when setting fitness goals.
The terms Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) are sometimes used interchangeably. While they are very similar, there’s a slight difference in how they’re defined.
BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to perform its most basic function. By contrast, RMR is the energy used by your body when it’s resting. It can be measured after a night of sleep, before breakfast, or after any morning exercise.
It might seem like the two definitions are identical, but actually, their differences are important. Generally, doctors consider BMR to be a more accurate estimate of your body’s energy usage than RMR. When measuring BMR, patients are required to fast for 12 hours and lay completely still, and avoid exerting any unnecessary energy. RMR is measured when the patient is asleep.
Generally, the two readings are very close, within 10 percent of one another, with RMR slightly higher than BMR.
Most people’s BMR falls between 1000 and 2000. This number refers to the number of calories your body burns at its most basic level. Everyone’s BMR is different because a wide range of factors affect it. These include body size, muscle mass, gender, age, heart rate, and more. Your BMR will change as you age, which means your health needs also change.
Accurately measuring BMR requires laboratory tests in a controlled environment performed by doctors. However, if you want to estimate your BMR, there’s a simple equation you can use to get a good idea of your daily caloric needs.
The equation used to calculate BMR is called the Harris-Benedict Equation. It’s slightly different for men and women. Simply choose your sex, and plug in your weight, height, and age, to get an estimate of your BMR.
Your BMR is a useful number to have on hand when managing fitness goals. One of the most useful ways to put it to use is to calculate how many calories you need to eat each day to maintain your weight. Once you have calculated your BMR using the formula above, take a look at the chart below to see the average number of calories your body needs each day based on your lifestyle.
Multiply your BMR by 1.9 if you perform intensive exercise six or seven days a week or have a physically demanding job.
Multiply your BMR by 1.725 if you perform moderately intense exercise six or seven days a week.
Multiply your BMR by 1.55 if you perform moderately intense exercise three to five days each week.
Multiply your BMR by 1.375 if you perform light exercise one to three days each week.
Multiply your BMR by 1.2 if you get little to no exercise every week.
The resulting number is an estimate of the number of calories your body needs each day to maintain your weight. If your goal is to lose weight, simply reduce the number of calories you eat or increase your activity level.
Don’t forget that this is an estimate. If you want a more accurate measurement of your BMR, talk to your doctor about having tests run that can take a measurement in a controlled environment.
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There are plenty of ways to put your BMR to use. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, maintain weight, or build muscle, it’s important to understand how BMR fits into your overall fitness picture.
The simplest and most surefire way to lose weight is to reduce your caloric intake. The rule of thumb is to drop 500 calories from your diet each day to lose a pound of fat in a week. The logic behind the rule is that a pound of fat represents 3,500 calories. If 500 calories are dropped each day of the week, you’ll have dropped 3,500 by the end of the week.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s calorie needs are different. If your BMR is 1000, and you have a sedentary lifestyle, it may be more difficult to cut 500 calories from your diet than someone with a BMR of 1,500 with a very active lifestyle.
Instead of following the 500-calorie rule, choose a number that feels right to you, anywhere between 200 and 600 calories per day. The key is to stay consistent with your dietary change. By using your BMR and closely monitoring your diet and activity levels, you can get a good estimate of your projected weight loss in a given period.
There is a wide range of factors that affect your BMR, including many genetic factors like sex, age, and height. While you can’t do anything to change these genetic factors, you can take action to increase your BMR.
Body composition is one of the biggest non-genetic factors that affect BMR. Bodies with greater muscle mass will burn more fuel at rest than bodies with a higher percentage of fat. But that doesn’t mean you need to be an athlete to see benefits. Boosting your muscle by even marginal amounts can have a big impact on your daily energy needs.
Boosting cardiovascular health is another important way you can increase your BMR. Find the best home cardio machines here.
If your goal is to build muscle rather than burn fat, knowing your BMR is just as important. It serves as a baseline from which you can start adding high-protein and high-calorie foods. According to this study, the body requires an extra 15% more calories each day, compared to your baseline caloric intake, when building muscle mass. What that means is if your body requires 2,000 calories per day to maintain its weight, you should eat 2,300 when building muscle.
Of course, the most important part of building muscle comes from a personalized workout regimen. But the core of any fitness plan should always be your diet.
Seniors can build muscle just as well as anyone, though they need to take a slightly different approach. Learn more about building muscle after 50 here.
The truth is it takes time, dedication, the right workout plan, and a healthy diet to promote lifelong fitness. However, whether you’re just starting on your fitness journey or looking to improve your results, BMR is the first piece of the puzzle. By gaining an understanding of your body’s basic energy needs, you can diet, build muscle, or maintain your weight with more control and confidence.