Learn about your body's energy needs and how to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
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People trying to lose weight are often told they need to be mindful of their calorie intake and calorie burn. While they usually equate calorie burn with exercising, a crucial point to note is that your body also uses energy to carry out vital functions. That is where metabolism and a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator come in. Read ahead for details.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) refers to the amount of energy per unit time used by the human body to continue functioning normally while at rest (when the digestive system is not active).
All bodily functions require energy. Even when we are resting, the human body uses energy for breathing, transport of oxygen and nutrients through circulation, usage of these nutrients by the cells, brain functioning, pumping of the heart, etc.
The body's metabolism refers to all the vital processes that take place physiologically in order to keep a person alive. BMR of a person can determine the rate at which a person can expend energy, or burn calories. This can affect the rate at which an individual gains or loses weight.
The BMR of an average individual accounts for 60 to 70% of their daily total energy expenditure. Also, the term Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is an entity used to describe the amount of energy the body burns when at rest. The terms RMR and BMR, though varying slightly, are used interchangeably.
An online Basal Metabolic Rate calculator is a widget that enables you to calculate your BMR. You can use a BMR calculator to estimate your BMR by entering the following details.
Weight in kg
Height in cm
Age in years
The clinical measurement of BMR is done under very restricted conditions while awake, so as to get an accurate reading. A part of the nervous system of the body called the sympathetic nervous system should remain inactive when BMR is being measured. This requires an individual to be at complete rest.
What is used commonly is a formula known as the Harris-Benedict Formula which can provide a rough estimate of BMR based on one's gender, age, height & weight. A little more accurate formula is the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation. Note: These formulae provide a close estimation of your BMR and not the exact value. They do however provide a pretty close estimation of your body's basal energy expenditure.
In laboratories, BMR was calculated by gas analysis via direct or indirect calorimetry, a technique that calculates the amount of heat expended by an individual by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled or oxygen inhaled. This is not commonly done.
Your BMR is influenced by several factors such as the following.
A higher muscle mass directly corresponds to a higher BMR. This is why two people having the same body weight can look very different and lose weight at very different rates.
As age increases, lean muscle mass decreases, leading to a drop in BMR.
Starvation can directly cause a reduction in BMR by nearly 30%. In the absence of nutrition, the body starts prioritising vital functions over expending energy in functions like general energy levels, mood, maintenance of physique, etc.
A drop in the outside temperature can cause an increase in BMR as more energy is required to maintain normal internal temperature. Excess external temperature also causes an increase in BMR, as the body here spends more energy to cool down the internal temperature.
The thyroid hormone plays an important role in regulating BMR. In people with hyperthyroidism, antithyroid medicines are used to bring it back to normal levels. These medicines can cause the BMR to decrease.
Both have hormonal changes which affect BMR.
Understanding your BMR is helpful in managing your body weight. Whether you are attempting to lose weight, maintain the same weight, or gain it, knowing your BMR helps you consume the right amount of calories. Based on your BMR and your daily activities, you can calculate your daily calorie requirement.
Approximate no. of calories you burn
Little or no exercise
BMR x 1.2
Exercise one to three times per week
BMR x 1.375
Exercise four to five times per week
BMR x 1.55
Daily exercise moderate
BMR x 1.725
Daily intense exercise
BMR x 1.9
So, if your aim is to lose weight, consuming fewer calories than you burn will help you do that. Always remember that pills given to “speed up” your metabolism or fat burner pills are not the solution! Even with a slow metabolism, weight loss can be achieved by focusing on building lean muscle mass by strength training, keeping the caloric intake in check, and reducing stress.
BMR depends on various factors. Consuming too few calories or reduction of any one group like carbohydrates can also slow down BMR. It is also important to include both cardio and strength training every week. If weight is stagnant even after an appropriate calorie deficit and healthy lifestyle, it is preferable to consult a doctor to check for hormonal disturbances.
No. BMR only includes the energy spent on vital functions such as respiration, circulation of blood, production of cells, and other such activities that continue to take place whether you are awake or asleep just to sustain life.
There are several pills available that claim to speed up metabolism. However, these should never be consumed unless prescribed by a doctor. They can result in change in bowel movement, liver or kidney failure, increased heart rate and hypertension, etc.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.