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Basal Metabolic Rate: Starting Point For Weight Loss Plan
Your basal metabolic rate is a tool used by trainers and nutritionists as a starting point in developing a weight loss program. We all know what basal metabolism is – the dictionary defines it as “the amount of energy expended by an organism at rest simply in maintaining its basic functions. ” The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a measure of the energy required to keep the body at rest. They are the calories you burn while doing nothing (other than being in charge of your body’s basic functions such as digestion, circulation, respiration, etc., of course). It’s nature’s way of keeping you from getting infinitely bigger. But how does the basal metabolic rate help us to start a weight loss program?
The basal metabolic rate is a reference point used to determine our minimum daily caloric needs. We can calculate the BMR using simple arithmetic according to this formula:
Male: 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) Female: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches ) – (4.7 x age in years)
To illustrate, let’s calculate the basal metabolic rate for a 40-year-old woman who is 5’6 tall and weighs 150 pounds:
655 + (4.3 x 150) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 40) = 655 + 645 + 310 – 188 = 1,422 calories
Her basal metabolic rate is 1,422. That means this woman burns 1,422 calories just keeping her body working. So what does a trainer (or you) do with this information? This number represents the minimum amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain yourself. But what if you want to lose weight? You should just cut your calories, right? Wrong.
When you cut back on calories, your body naturally reacts by slowing down its calorie burn to protect itself from starvation. Although you eat less, your weight stays the same. If you eat the same calories but exercise more, that should work, right? If your body works harder and does not get more energy, again, it will slow down your calorie burning and your results will be very small. So does that mean you need to eat more calories? Isn’t that the point? Not according to Josh Bezoni, fitness expert and co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition. He says, “Exercise increases metabolism. Eating increases metabolism. The trick is learning to balance both so you still create a negative calorie balance.”
Let’s say you calculate your basal metabolic rate and it allows you to burn 2000 calories per day. Knowing this, you go on a diet and start eating 1500 calories a day which creates a deficit of 500. That would seem like a good thing, but overeating only slows down your metabolism.
Now let’s change a few things. Your basal metabolic rate still allows you to burn 2000 calories per day. However, instead of cutting your calories back to 1500, you start eating 300 more calories per day but you also burn 800 more calories through exercise. The result? You will achieve the same 500 calorie deficit (2800 calories burned – 2300 calories consumed) but you will do so while increasing your metabolism through eating and exercising more. This process is especially helpful for a person who has a low basal metabolic rate due to calorie restriction and a sedentary lifestyle. (By the way, a 500 calorie deficit per day produces a weight loss of 1 pound per week.)
The basal metabolic rate provides a good basis for the minimum amount of calories. Of course, the right foods and exercise are key to your success. A diet of sugary foods and/or an exercise program that includes endless walking on a treadmill will make it difficult to lose weight. But if you use your BMR as a starting point, you’ll know not to go below that level and adjust food and exercise accordingly to create a calorie deficit.
The basal metabolic rate will get you started. The next step is lifestyle changes. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, seeds and nuts (sparingly) combined with strength training that includes aerobic and anaerobic exercise is a great formula for weight loss and overall good health. Some sports can also give you great exercise. The best starting point in developing a weight loss plan is to calculate your basal metabolic rate.
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