Back to Basics: Understanding Your Basal Metabolic Rate

| Weight Loss

woman measuring her flat stomach with measuring tape

We're constantly in search of the newest, most effective weight loss strategies out there. However, when it comes down to dropping those extra pounds, comprehending what our body actually needs should be our first priority! Before we can decide how many calories we should consume each day to shed those love handles, we need to gain a better understanding of our basal metabolic rate (BMR) and why it is so essential when it comes to weight loss. Dieting isn't just about what goes into our body; how much we need and how fast we lose weight is actually dictated by our BMR! Keep reading to learn more.

Believe it or not, our bodies require a huge amount of energy just to function throughout the day. Simple activities that we take for granted, such as breathing, blinking, growing new cells, circulating blood, supporting brain growth and development and so on demand a good deal of energy. It's actually estimated that our BMR is responsible for around 60-70 percent of our total energy burned each day.

So what exactly is your BMR? In simple terms, it is the amount of energy (measured in calories) that the body needs in order to support vital functions, while resting for 24 hours. Basically, if you were to sit around or lay in bed all day, it's the number of calories your body would utilize just to maintain basic operations.

doctor visit

In order to calculate your BMR as accurately as possible, it is necessary to have an expert take measurements of the carbon dioxide and oxygen in the body after you have fasted for a full 12 hours, and had 8 hours of solid sleep. Luckily, there's a much simpler formula, known as the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, that provides an adequate measure of your BMR if you are unable to reach out to a professional. The equation for women is:

BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

For a 5'5" (or 168 cm) woman who is 35 years old and weighs 150 pounds (or 68 kg), her BMR would be calculated as follows:

BMR = 10 x (68) + 6.25 x (168) - 5 x 35 - 161 = ~1,394 calories

On average, this woman burns about 1,394 calories at rest a day.

>> Read more: Amp Up Your Metabolism to Burn More Calories

weight loss

Understanding your basal metabolic rate is an essential part of weight loss, because it helps you recognize how much fuel your body needs just to function on a daily basis. You can use your BMR to determine how much you should eat in order to maintain, lose or gain weight, depending on your goals. Keep in mind that if you exercise on a regular basis, you will need to take that calorie expenditure into account as well. Eating too few calories will force your body into starvation mode, and that not only jeopardizes your weight loss goals, but also your overall health! For more information on the importance of understanding your basal metabolic rate, check out these sources: Daily Burn, HealthStatus, and University of Leicester.