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Losing Weight and Your BMR

Weight Loss CaloriesLooking to lose weight?  Get leaner?  Gain muscle?  Get toned?  Regardless of your fitness objectives, you need to know how to do something before you can actually do it.  Yes, there are things where you simply start and learn by trial and error but most endeavors require some basic amount of foundational knowledge.  Losing weight or any other fitness-related goal is a great example.

If you wanted to lose weight, you might simply start restricting your eating to limit your caloric intake.  This might work, for a while.  You might shed that unwanted five pounds, ten pounds, or even more.  You might think, “Well, I lost five pounds by eating a smaller lunch so if I eat a smaller dinner, I will lose five more pounds!”  If some is good, more is always better right?!?  Wrong.Basil Metabolic Rate

The body needs a certain amount of calories each day to simply function.  This metric is known by many different terms.  Things like “resting heart rate”, “basil metabolic rate”, or “resting metabolic rate” are all closely related and, generally, refer to how many calories you need to live.  About 70% of all energy expenditure, or caloric burn, is due solely to our basic life processes like your beating heart, your brain staying alive, your liver cleaning your body, and so on.  Merely exhaling causes you to burn some calories.  Sadly, not many, but at least it is some!  The remaining 30% is split between your daily physical activity (~20%) and the digestion of food (~10%).  Daily physical activity refers to things you do during the normal course of your day like walking, standing, and so on.  If you have a physically demanding job (e.g., construction worker or, in my case, being a stay-at-home Dad), you will burn more calories than someone who is more sedentary (e.g., lawyers).  One caveat here, don’t see that 10% and think, “Awesome!  I’m going to eat a ton to force my body to burn more calories digesting that bag of Doritos!”  You will never burn more than you eat; so don’t play that game.

Losing WeightWhy does any of this matter, you may be wondering???  Because, if you have any weight loss goals (or weight gain goals too), you need to know how many calories to eat each day to not only live and supply your body with the energy it needs, but also how many calories to safely eliminate from (or add into) your diet.  Simply reducing your calories might work, but that’s creating a weight loss plan with no real knowledge of whether it will work.  Start with knowledge and then make your plan to increase substantially your chance of success!

To determine your Basil Metabolic Rate, or BMR, use the following equations:

Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Men: 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

Unless you are really good at math, you will probably need a calculator to determine your BMR.  Know that your BMR is influenced by many factors, including age, history, diet and exercise habits, temperature, and more.  Because of all these variables, precisely determining your BMR is very difficult.  But, the above equation will provide you with an excellent estimate that you can rely upon in creating your weight loss plan.

Keep in mind, as I mentioned above, your BMR is only about 70% of your daily caloric burn.  You still need to apply this metric to your life and goals.

Calories DietPlus, the equations do not take into account lean body mass, or the ratio of muscle-to-fat your body has.  Lean bodies generally need more calories than less leaner ones.  Thus, the equations will be pretty accurate in all but the very muscular (when it will underestimate the caloric needs) and the very overweight (when it will over estimate the caloric needs).

While the math and information can seem confusing, this is the best and most scientific way to truly estimate your caloric needs.  As your body, fitness, and health change (and hopefully for the better), you will need to reassess this value.  But, it will give you an excellent starting point to begin your weight loss journey.

Now, I know you are thinking, ummm great information but what the heck am I supposed to do with it???  Since it represents only about 70%, you may need further assistance in applying this information to make it useful to you.  That’s where I can be of service.  If you want to learn more about how to apply this information, want help in losing weight, or have some questions, please contact me and I will help you as best as I can!  If you have any general questions or comments, please leave them below.  I would greatly appreciate and value any comments or feedback you have to give!

Thank you and thanks for reading!Exercise and Health

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