Tag Archives: Basal metabolic rate

How to Raise Your BMR | Fitness Over 50

Burn Calories While You Sleep

In the previous articles about the importance of calculating your Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR) and how it should be the main factor when you’re trying to decide how many calories you need to cut in order to lose weight we went over just what BMR really is. For the benefit of those that haven’t read the previous articles I’ll go over what BMR is real briefly.

Basil Metabolic Rate is simply the amount of energy, measured in calories, that your body needs to maintain your current weight if you were in a state of complete rest. It’s the fuel that you r body needs to perform it’s most basic – hence basil – tasks like breathing, heart beat, digesting food controlling body temperature, regulating hormones and anything else the body simply must do to survive. Depending on your level of activity these calories can make up from half to seventy percent of all your daily caloric expenditures.

As mentioned this is energy or calories burned in a restful or even sedate state just to stay alive so if we can increase this number then we will burn more calories 24 hours a day, even while we’re sleeping!

Factors that control Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Among different individuals BMR can vary greatly. We all know someone that seems to be able to eat whatever, whenever they want well into their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and seem to never gain a pound. We should all be so lucky.

The main factors in your own personal BMR are:

  • Body size and composition (lean muscle burns calories at rest – fat doesn’t)
  • Parent’s body size and composition
  • Sex (male or female, not whether you’re having enough)
  • Age (BMR decreases two percent per decade after the age of 20)
  • Body temperature (some people have a normal temp that’s higher or lower than others thus burning more or less calories at rest)
  • Exercise (I know I said BMR is about calories burned at REST but I’ll explain later how certain kinds of exercise will continue to burn calories HOURS after you finish your workout)
  • Diet (not only what you eat but more importantly for BMR WHEN you eat)
  • Stress
  • Sleep

There are many other factors but this list covers the main ones. As you can see some of them like heredity, sex and age are completely out of your control but believe it or not the main deciding factor outside of genetics is very much within your ability to change.

Building Lean Muscle the key to increasing Basil Metabolic Rate

It’s a fact. Muscle burns calories even at rest. The amount has been exaggerated over the years to as much as 30 calories per day for every pound of lean body muscle mass but current research shows that the real number is more like six.  Fat burns almost NO calories at rest maybe one or two at the most so muscle mass burns about 3 times as many calories AT REST than fat. Remember this is per pound! It can add up over time.

Resistance Training Burns Calories for Hours

The body converts food to energy when the body needs it at a cellular level in whats know as the mitochondria. The mitochondria is also responsible for providing the energy for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue. As we age our bodies number of mitochondria naturally decreases leaving us with fewer of these little calorie burning internal furnaces. Exercising regularly has been shown to slow down the loss of these cells and even increase their number. This happens as the demand for immediate energy is received by the body while we are working out, especially during aerobic exercise  when it needs it although this spike in caloric burn last only for a short time after the aerobic activity is over only burning a lot of calories during and immediately after the exercise .

Resistance training works in another way to stimulate these cells for an even longer period. Resistance or weight bearing exercise actually tears down the muscle tissue, this is why it’s recommended to never work out the same muscle groups two days in a row. The body needs time to repair this cellular muscle damage and this is what the mitochondria does even while you’re at rest or sleeping! those little internal furnaces are still at work hours after you’ve left the gym repairing the damage and burning the calories while it does so.

Those are the two easiest ways to increase your at rest metabolism. Increase lean muscle mass by including some resistance training in your activities.

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Counting Calories

The Burger King "BK Stacker" sandwic...

Image via Wikipedia

 

In our previous article about Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR)  we explained why it’s so important when making a weight loss plan to first know how many calories your own particular body needs each day simply to provide you with the energy it needs to perform all your daily tasks and functions. This as we have shown varies depending on factors such as age, gender, height and current weight.

In order to lose any weight and more importantly SUSTAIN any weight loss we must consume fewer calories daily than we need according to our BMR (use the BMR calculator found on this page if you haven’t calculated your Basil Metabolic Rate yet).

Determining Your Current Caloric Intake

This is extremely important and a step that is often skipped when trying to lose weight. Often one will just try to start cutting back on the calories in an attempt to shed some pounds without first considering exactly how many calories they actually need to eliminate from their daily intake to achieve the results they desire. In my opinion this lacks focus and doesn’t always work.

Consider this, let’s say an inactive person that weighs 180 lbs is determined to lose weight. This person decides he or she will eliminate a few things from their daily eating habits and cut back on about 500 calories a day. Sounds like a good plan right?

Not necessarily!

Unless this person understands that in the BMR for a person of his weight and activity level is about 2150 calories a day and to lose any weight he must drop below that level 500 calories a day may not be enough. What if he’s already unknowingly consuming 3000 calories. Well cutting back just 500 calories would bring him down to 2500 which means in a months time he would have actually GAINED 3 pounds! (BTW there is a way that his plan could have worked and we’ll go over that later).

Keep a Journal

Determining your daily caloric intake isn’t as difficult as most people initially think. No you don’t have to keep a list of every food on the planet and how many calories they all contain. The easiest way is to simply keep a journal or record of everything you eat for just one week!

That’s right one week. You see for most people 80 – 90 percent of what we eat is the same from week to week. As adults we already know what we like and we tend to stick with it. So for one week don’t even bother trying to keep up with how many calories are in every thing you put in your mouth, just make sure to make of list of what food it was, make sure to keep the days separate so as to be able to determine daily calories later.

At the end of the day or if you choose you  can wait until the end of the week you can use this USDA Nutritional Database to see how many calories each of the foods you consumed contained. I like to print the chart out for quick reference when I do occasionally eat something out of the norm for me.

Using this chart and your journal you can easily determine how many calories you are consuming a day. Are they more than your BMR? If so then you are slowly adding on more weight. Reduce the number below that of your BMR and the pounds WILL drop off. Reduce it to 100 calories below your BMR and you will lose 10 pounds over the next year, 200 below would add up to 20 pounds and so on and so on.

Okay now that we’ve covered the calorie side, remember in our earlier example I showed that our 180 lb inactive person that reduced calories by 500 would still gain weight if he was consuming 3000 calories before cutting back. I said that there IS a way to still make his 500 calorie reduction work towards a weight loss right? The answer is:

Part 4 – Raising Your Basil Metabolic Rate

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What is Basil Metabolic Rate and Why it’s Important

BMR

Have you ever heard someone say, “I followed the diet plan but I still didn’t lose a pound” or “How come she seems to be able to eat whatever she wants and doesn’t gain an inch while I can hardly look at food without gaining?”

BMR the REAL key to losing weight

Basil Metabolic Rate or BMR is simply a measure of the amount of calories your body needs daily to sustain it’s basic functions like breathing, heart beat, sleep and all the involuntary functions that we do to just stay alive. We all do these things and although the necessary calories vary with age, sex, how tall you are and how much you weigh they are pretty much the same for people who fit into the same groups based on these characteristics.

As you can see BMR is based on some things that are to a great degree out of our control but fortunately for us that is only half of the story. You see BMR also takes into account the calories that we need to carry out all of our voluntary functions that we do during our normal day. Work, play, exercise, making dinner, walking to the store. They all add up to our total Basil Metabolic Rate. These voluntary functions can vary GREATLY from person to person and that’s why some of us can eat almost whatever we want and never gain a pound and some of us can’t. It’s all about the level of activity we maintain during our normal day. To lose we must first find out what our own BMR is and see if we’re actually eating more calories during the day than we need and if so we have two choices. Get more active or eat fewer calories, actually we get the greatest benefit from doing both!

How to calculate your BMR

There are a few different ways to get your BMR. One of the most complicated takes into consideration your gender, weight, body fat vs. lean mass and can be found here.

A simpler method is to just multiply your weight by 10.

example:  180 x 10 = 1800 calories

This is generally a good estimate to start with. Multiply this number by your activity level.

  • Inactive 20%
  • Semi Active (chores around the house) 38%
  • Active (moving all day and daily workout) 40%
  • Very Active (moving all day and involved in sports) 50%

example:   1800 x 40% (active) = 720 calories

Add these together

example:  1800+720 = 2520 calories

That means that in order to maintain a weight of 180 lbs this active person would have to consume 2520 calories a day. If the same person were inactive they would be able to consume only 2160 calories a day without gaining weight, that’s 360 calories less! Given that every 3500 calories add up to one pound in 10 days if 2 people that weighed the same 180 pounds ate the exact same 2520 calories a day and one was active and one not the inactive one would have GAINED a pound while the active one would have stayed the same.

Update – I have added a simple online BMR calculator that can be found by clicking the link to this Fitness Over 50 Tools and Calculators page.

Part 3 – Calculating Calories Consumed

 

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