What is BMR? What Basal Metabolic Rate Means and How to Calculate It

Understanding the inner workings of your body can be overwhelming. I get it. But whether you’re trying to increase your metabolismtrack your fitness progress or focus on a weight control plan, it is important to understand one number: your basal metabolic rate.

Simply put, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns while performing basic life-sustaining functions, such as breathing, growing hair, digesting food, and maintaining metabolism. heartbeat says alyssa lombardyexercise physiologist, athletic trainer and founder of Alyssa’s RunFit Workout. “BMR is the minimum number of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.”

Meet the experts: alyssa lombardy is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Running Coach, and Founder of Alyssa’s RunFit Workout. Cara CarmichaelCPT, is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, OrangeTheory Trainer, and PN Certified Nutrition Trainer.

It is also important to know what it is not. BMR is not based on your activity levels or how much you exercise. It is the rate at which your body burns calories to perform essential bodily functions only.

And don’t confuse your basal metabolic rate with your resting metabolic rate (RMR). “RMR is his BMR plus a very small level of daily activity, like walking to the bathroom, getting out of bed, and eating, but essentially being at rest,” Lombardi says.

There is no one BMR for everyone. The number is based on height, weight, gender, age, muscle mass, and body fat. Knowing your BMR can help you stay on track with weight management and how your body responds to life’s activities. “As your activity level, exercise, and age change, your BMR will change,” says Lombardi. “Checking it from time to time can help you know so you can adjust your lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight.”

That’s just a preview of what BMR can do. Read on for the full details on how to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate, why it’s important to know your BMR, and more from the experts.

How to find out your BMR

There are a few different ways to calculate the BMR. Obtaining an accurate and fully accurate BMR requires a DEXA scanLombardi says. “This is essentially a body image of hers that will tell you the composition of her body fat, muscle, and bone density,” she says. However, DEXA scans use a low dose of X-rays, are done in a hospital, and require an in-person visit with your doctor.

Because DEXA scans aren’t exactly accessible, Lombardi recommends an online calculator like omnidirectional calculator for easier (and free!) measurement at home. Although less exact, studies display online calculators using the Harris–Benedict equation take your height, weight, age, and gender into account to give you a rough estimate of your BMR.

From the Harris–Benedict equation does not take into account muscle mass or body fat, there are limitations to its accuracy. You can estimate it yourself with the equation for women below.

Calculate your BMR: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)

It’s also important to note that men typically have a higher BMR than women. Generally speaking, men are taller and have more muscle mass than women, which results in a higher BMR, Lombardi explains. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR will be.

You may be wondering…does my smartwatch provide an accurate BMR? The short answer is no. smart watch trackers use movement, heart rate, and your height and weight to provide calorie information, but disregard muscle mass or body fat, which contribute to your BMR, he says Cara Carmichael, CPT. “The number that the clock creates is not necessarily based on the individual,” she says. “It’s a more basic formula and there’s a lot of room for error.”

Although smartwatches aren’t 100% accurate, they can give you a good starting point, adds Lombardi. But remember not to dwell on numbers. Instead, take this information to understand your body and its necessary caloric intake.

Why BMR is a useful piece of health data

Beyond increasing your knowledge (and appreciation!) of how your body works, knowing your BMR can help you reach your health and fitness goals. Here are some of the benefits of your BMR:

  • Understand caloric needs. Knowing your BMR can help you determine a nutrition plan and recognize your daily caloric needsCarmichael explains. “Many of us don’t really know how much food we need to eat to get through the day without crashing, but your BMR can serve as a reference,” she says. By knowing how many calories your body burns naturally, you can calculate how much you need to eat to gain (eat more calories than you burn), lose (eat fewer calories than you burn), or maintain weight (eat the same number of calories as you burn). .
  • Weight control. Whether you’re looking to lose or gain weight, understanding your BMR can help speed up the process by giving you the information you need to help. establish a diet that aligns with your goalsLombardi says. Once you know your BMR, which is how many calories your body burns for basic function, you can use it to base your calorie needs for the day. The higher your BMR, the more calories you can consume without gaining weight, he explains.
  • Monitoring of physical progress. If your BMR goes up, that usually means you’re gaining more muscle and getting stronger, says Lombardi. Since gaining muscle is the most effective way to change your BMR, strength training and tracking your BMR over time can be a great way to measure your progress and #gains.
  • Improved metabolism. A high BMR is often associated with a accelerated metabolism and higher muscle mass, while a low BMR can indicate a slower metabolism, lower muscle mass, and a higher percentage of body fat, says Carmichael. “A lot of people want to increase their metabolism, but you need to understand that in order to do so, you need to build more muscle and increase your BMR,” she says.

    How to improve your BMR

    Take a look at the stats in the BMR equation above and you’ll get a rough idea of ​​how the BMR needle can move. Incorporate strength training into your workout and gaining muscle mass is the most effective way to change and increase your BMR, says Carmichael. “Muscle uses much more energy than fat while at rest, so at any given weight, the more muscle your body has, the higher your BMR.”

    Carmichael suggests incorporating strength training at least twice a week to build muscle and increase your BMR. But remember, consistency is key and change doesn’t happen overnight. “A lot of people are looking for quick fixes, but really, it’s about sustainability and sustainable habits.”

    Changing your BMR can help boost your metabolism, lose weight, gain strength, or establish an optimal meal plan, but there’s no magic number. “Each individual has a different BMR and you can’t compare it to each other,” says Carmichael. What is considered “healthy” varies by person and their goals. the average BMR for women it’s around 1,400 kcal and around 1,700 kcal for men, she says.

    Bottom line: BMR is a personalized stat that can’t be compared to anyone else, but measuring yours and learning how your body works can help you reach your health and fitness goals.

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