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Basal Metabolic Rate: Starting Point For Weight Loss Plan
Your basal metabolic rate is a tool that trainers and nutritionists use as a starting point when developing a weight loss program. We all know what basal metabolism is – the dictionary defines it as “the amount of energy consumed by a resting organism simply in maintaining its basic functions.” The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a measure of the energy required to maintain the body at rest. It’s the calories you burn when you’re doing nothing (other than presiding over your body’s basic functions like 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 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 with 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 look at 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 that this woman burns 1,422 calories just to function her body. So what does a trainer (or you) do with this information? This number represents the minimum calories you need to consume daily to sustain yourself. But what if you want to lose weight? You just need to cut back on your calories, right? Wrong.
If you cut back on calories, your body reacts naturally by slowing down its calorie burning to protect itself against hunger. Even though you eat less, your weight remains the same. If you eat the same calories but exercise more, that should work, right? If yourbody works harder and doesn’t get more energy, it will slow down your calorie burning again and your results will be negligible. Does that mean you need to eat more calories? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Not according to Josh Bezoni, fitness expert and co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition. He says, “Exercise increases the metabolism. Eating increases the metabolism. The trick is learning to balance the two so that you still create a negative calorie balance.”
Let’s say you calculate your basal metabolic rate and you can burn 2000 calories per day. Knowing this, you go on a diet and start eating 1500 calories a day, creating a deficit of 500. That would seem to be a good thing, but undereating only slows down your metabolism.
Now let’s change a few things. Your basal metabolic rate allows you to burn another 2000 calories per day. But instead of reducing your calories to 1500, you start eating 300 more calories each day, but you also burn 800 extra calories through exercise. The result? You get the same 500 calorie deficit (2800 calories burned – 2300 calories consumed), but you do that while increasing your metabolism by eating and exercising more. This process is particularly useful for someone who has a low basal metabolic rate due to calorie restriction and a sedentary lifestyle. (By the way, a 500 calorie deficit per day results in a 1 pound weight loss per week.)
The basal metabolic rate provides a good baseline for minimal calories. Of course, the right food and exercise are crucial to your success. A diet of sugary foods and/or an exercise program consisting of endless walking on a treadmill will make weight loss difficult. But if you use your BMR as a starting point, you’ll know that you shouldn’t go below that level and add 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 (sparing) combined with strength training that includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises is a good formula to follow for weight loss and good health in general. Certain sports can also give you a great full body workout. The best starting point when developing a weight loss plan is a calculation of your basal metabolic rate.
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