Understanding Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for Optimal Health

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What is Basal Metabolic Rate [BMR]

Basal Metabolic Rate [BMR] is the minimum energy to keep us alive while we are resting. It is in fact the number of calories your body needs to consume while resting or sleeping. It depends on factors such as age, body weight, types of activity, and gender of a person.

Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR can help you boost your health in many ways.

Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is crucial for maintaining optimal health and well-being. By understanding your BMR, you can accurately determine the number of calories your body needs at rest. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions about your diet and exercise routine.

Additionally, knowing your BMR can help you create a personalized weight loss or weight gain plan that is tailored to your specific needs. By taking control of your BMR, you can take control of your overall health and achieve your fitness goals more effectively.

So far I have discussed with you facts regarding Obesity which includes methods to know if you are overweight, obese, or having an ideal body weight. Here are the articles that I have already written on obesity and how to cope with it-

  1. Obesity- How to Measure it
  2. Obesity Revisited

Today, we are going to find out how you come to this conclusion.

Why is knowing Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR important?

Our body weight depends upon how much we eat and how much we exercise [accept if you are genetically predisposed]. This leads us to a calculation called Basal Metabolic Rate or simply BMR. What is this BMR?

To understand this, first, you need to know what metabolism is. Metabolism is the chemical activity going on in our body to keep us alive.

Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that occur in the body to sustain life and is responsible for converting food into energy.

Metabolism slows down with age and so does our BMR. Basal metabolic rate is also termed by some as the Resting Metabolic Rate.

As said above, the BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, is the minimum energy required by the body to maintain basic bodily functions while at rest. It is determined by factors such as age, body weight, activity level, and gender.

This starts with eating, exercising [can be anything from sitting to jogging], and resting. So, if our metabolism comes to a standstill, it means we are no longer alive.

The table below shows the basal metabolic rate or the resting metabolic rate in men and women depending on their height.

Basal or Resting Metabolic rate[BMR/RMR]
Basal or Resting Metabolic rate

The above picture shows how much energy we spend while sleeping. The calories you spend while you are awake, exercising, moving about is not included in the BMR. Think of it as the number of calories needed to keep you alive if you were always sleeping!

What are the factors that affect our basal metabolic rate?

The factors that affect basal metabolic rate (BMR) include age, gender, body composition, genetics, and hormone levels.

Let’s learn how age, gender, body composition, genetics, and hormone levels affect basal metabolic rate:

Age: Basal metabolic rate generally decreases with age due to the loss of muscle mass and a decrease in physical activity levels.

Gender: Men tend to have a higher basal metabolic rate compared to women, primarily because men typically have more muscle mass and a higher percentage of lean body mass.

Body Composition: Individuals with a higher proportion of muscle mass have a higher basal metabolic rate compared to those with a higher proportion of fat mass, as muscles require more energy to maintain.

Genetics: Genetic factors can influence basal metabolic rate by affecting metabolic processes and the efficiency with which the body converts food into energy.

Genetic factors can influence basal metabolic rate by affecting metabolic processes and the efficiency of the body’s energy conversion from food.

Some examples include variations in genes responsible for regulating thyroid hormones, which can impact the overall metabolic rate.

Additionally, genetic variations in enzymes involved in the metabolism of nutrients, such as lipids or carbohydrates, can affect the efficiency of energy conversion. A case in point is a child born to obese couple- this child can be born overweight, eventually leading to childhood obesity.

These genetic factors can contribute to individual differences in basal metabolic rate among individuals.

Hormone Levels: Hormones such as thyroid hormones, cortisol, and insulin can affect basal metabolic rate. Thyroid hormones, for example, play a critical role in regulating metabolism.

Does age affect the BMR?

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) typically decreases with aging after the age of 20. To keep BMR steady, engage in regular exercise, maintain a balanced diet, and prioritize muscle-building activities.

After the age of 20, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) declines by approximately 2-3% per decade.

As we age and if we follow the same pattern of eating and lifestyle, at age of 20,30,40, with the lowered BMR, we tend to accumulate more calories which get converted to fats at different places in our body giving it the overweight/obese look.

Ideal BMR for different heights is as given in the table above. By exercising, you tend to increase muscle mass, thereby increasing it.

As mentioned earlier, aging slows down the metabolism of our body. But regular exercise like walking, weight training, swimming etc., improves our muscle mass and reduces fats.

Now calculate accordingly for your age. A formula to arrive at your present BMR is given below:-

Image showing how to calculate basal metabolic rate [BMR]
BMR Calculation

Using this calculation, you can keep your body weight in check by increasing your activities that burn calories and reduce the intake of calories by consuming a healthy diet.

An easy and instant way to calculate BMR is putting in your body measurements into the app below:

BMR Calculator (Basal Metabolic Rate, Mifflin St Jeor Equation)

How can knowing your BMR help?

Knowing your BMR can help you to-

  • Maintain ideal body weight-eat and burn an equal amount of calories
  • Gain weight if you are underweight- increase your calory intake
  • Reduce weight if you are obese or overweight- your BMR is likely to be high here. Accordingly, reduce calories and burn more calories by exercising.

To know more about metabolism and its effect you can refer to these sites-

  1. NASM
  2. Myfitnesspal.com
  3. Everydayhealth.com

As we go ahead, I will show you methods to keep your body weight in the ideal range. If you are are having any other co-morbid conditions like high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, diabetes, arthritis it is better to consult your family physician.

In my next blog, I will be discussing the above mentioned co-morbid conditions one by one and natural ways to tackle them other than medications.