Why It’s Important To Know Your BMR
Whether your goal is to lose weight (body fat), gain weight (lean muscle), or to just maintain your current weight, knowing your BMR can help you attain and maintain your goals. If like so many women who are eating right, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, but still can’t seem to shed those extra pounds, knowing your BMR could be one of the missing link to your weight and health goals.
Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is an estimate of how many calories you’d burn if you were to do nothing but rest for 24 hours. It represents the minimum amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning, including breathing and keeping your heart beating.
Factors that affect your BMR include:
- body fat percentage
The BMR includes the number of calories used for activities from breathing, maintaining your body temperature, your heart pumping, to your brain working at various levels and other functions that occur in the body while asleep. The calories you burn when awake, moving (including exercising) are not included in the BMR. Think of your BMR as the number of calories needed to stay alive if you were bedridden.
Things to know about BMR
- Your BMR slows down at roughly 5% every 10 years after the age of 20. This is why many people can’t understand why they gain weight as they get older, but they still have the lifestyle (or eat) the same way they did in their 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s. They need to reset their BMR to reflect the changes that are taking place in their bodies!
- Women will naturally have a lower BMR than men, as men usually have a lower percentage of body fat and a higher percentage of muscle. Of course this does not included female bodybuilders as their body fat is kept below the essential body fat amount (10-12%). By having a lower body fat percentage and a higher percentage of lean muscle mass, men require a higher metabolism to maintain that muscle.
- Also, women that are leaner (those having body fat percentages between 15-25%, as well as those who are physically active in weight lifting and strength training (2-4 days a week) will also have a higher BMR than women who are more sedentary, have a higher level of body fat, and/or are overweight.
- Your BMR also increases with your body weight, in both males and females, so the heavier you are (weight) the higher your BMR is. At the same time, your BMR decreases with age, due to the decrease in lean body mass that often occurs in older adults. Again, keep in mind the fact we noted earlier that there is about a 2-3% drop in your BMR every decade after the age of 20.
- Did you know that your external temperature can also be responsible for raising BMR? If the weather is cold, the body must create more heat to keep warm. Anything that affects body temperature and tries to raise or lower it will cause the BMR to increase in order to counteract this effect.
So, what is the big deal with the metabolic rate and why is it so important? Your metabolism is the true indicator of your overall dieting and fitness success. You really need to keep your engine running hot in order to burn the most amount of calories each day. Unfortunately, there are lots of things that can slow it down.
Age: Your metabolism actually slows down by 5% every 10 years.
Fat: Lean muscle tissue burns 3 times more calories than fat.
Dieting: Drastically cutting calories shocks your body and sends it into starvation mode. It basically slows way down and runs cooler in order to maintain calories because it believes that there is a short supply of food available. When this happens, your weight loss progress hits a plateau. That’s why Fixing Your Fat Fighting Hormones is crucial to long term success! (Read: 3 Ways Dieting Makes You Fatter)
BMI is a number based on your weight and height. In general, the higher the number, the more body fat a person has. BMI is often used as a screening tool to decide if your weight might be putting you at risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
The problem with BMI: BMI (body mass index), which is based on the height and weight of a person, is an inaccurate measure of body fat content and does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences. Simply put: BMI is outdated. Most doctor’s offices, insurance companies, and other health practitioners still use BMI as a way to track and identify progress, so it’s a good number to know, but it’s not the BEST number to use….