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Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Calculator

Have you ever heard of the term "basal metabolic rate"? Do you know what it is and why it's extremely important to know your numbers? Do you know what to do to make your BMR numbers work for you regardless of whether your goals are to lose weight (body fat) or gain weight (lean muscle) and do it in a safe and effective way?

Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is defined as the minimum number of calories your body burns whether at rest, working out or lying down. This means that everyone has a set number of calories that they need in order to stay alive and it's as different for you as it is for your children, friends, parents or even siblings. These calories are the absolute minimum amount of energy your body burns, and includes all involuntary (independent of your own will) activities that your body does to stay alive such as digestion, respiration, circulation, removing waste products and regulating body temperature.

Factors that affect your BMR include age, genetics, weight, heredity, body fat percentage and gender. For example, your BMR is the number of calories your body would need to spend 24 hours asleep in bed. Your BMR number will depend on many factors such as your weight, your diet and your current activity level.

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.

Your BMR slows down at roughly 2% 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.

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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 Indians 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 the missing link to your weight and health goals.

How to Improve Your Metabolism

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. These include:
  • 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.
Building lean muscle mass with weight training two to three days a week (minimum) can increase your metabolism which in turn can help you decrease unwanted body fat and help you get leaner. Remember, knowing your BMR and utilizing these important numbers, along with good nutrition and exercise will give you the body that you've been working so hard for!