Basel Metabolic Rate Definition

woman sleeping
Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, is your metabolic rate while at total rest, like sleeping. It is measured in calorie expenditure, which is calories burned.

Your BMR is responsible for approximately 60 to 70% of the total number of calories you burn in a day. That's a lot of calories burned without doing any exercises.

This calorie expenditure is used for basic body functions. These functions include digesting, breathing, pumping blood and maintaining body temperature.

Basically, your Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories used to sustain life.

Importance of Basal Metabolic Rate

Why is understanding your metabolic rate and understanding the definition important for weight loss? In order to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. Meaning you must consume fewer calories than you burn.

To better understand the calories you need for weight loss, you need to start with the calories you burn from your metabolic rate. Remember the BMR is responsible for approximately 60 - 70% of the calories you would burn in a day.

So starting here will help you determine how many calories to consume from the foods you eat. It will also help you determine how many calories you want to burn through your workouts.

Consuming fewer calories and burning more calories can create a calorie deficit, which in turn will lead to weight loss. Creating a calorie deficit can be done one of several ways.

  1. Consume fewer calories
  2. Burn more calories
  3. Do both

By doing both, consuming fewer calories consumed and burning more calories, you can easily create that calorie deficit for weight loss.

What Can Impact BMR?

In addition to age, gender, weight and height playing a role in your BMR, other things can impact this as well. For instance, if you are ill, your BMR can change during the illness.

teen and parents cooking

Additionally, hormones can impact your basal metabolic rate. The thyroid gland produces Thyroxin, which is an important hormone to help your BMR. If a person does not produce enough Thyroxin, their metabolic rate will slow down.

Certain medications may also impact your metabolism. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if any medicines you are taking impact your metabolism.

Genetics can play a role in your BMR. Some people will have a naturally higher metabolism while others will be slower. Although this may not seem fair it is what we are dealt and have to work with what was given to us.

Lastly, dieting can impact your basal metabolic rate. If done properly, you can actually increase your metabolism by eating healthy and adding exercise, both aerobic exercises and strength training.

But if you diet incorrectly, you will actually slow down your metabolism.

Don't Crash Diet 

woman dieting

Many people make the mistake of going on a “crash” diet in hopes of a quick weight loss. The problem is that if a person reduces their calorie intake by too much, the body reacts by going into survival mode, slowing down your metabolism and lowering your BMR.

What happens when you lose weight fast is that you are also likely losing muscle. This then lowers your lean body mass and in turn lowers your BMR.

A general rule is to never go below 1200 calories/day for women or 1800 calories/day for men, which are extremely low calorie levels.

What Can You Do To Raise BMR?

One thing you are in control of, and can have a positive effect on your metabolic rate, is your activity level.

By adding exercise to your weekly routine, you are not only burning additional calories, which will help create that calorie deficit for weight loss, but you are increasing lean body mass. And since muscles burn more calories than fat, you are increasing your basal metabolic rate.

Be sure to read these other benefits to exercise. Check out this free online Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator to see what calories you need to consume to lose weight.

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