What is my Basal Metabolic Rate (a.k.a. ‘base calorie burn’)?
How many calories do I need?
I thought it’d be useful to write a brief piece to help answer some of these questions and also relate them to your weight loss strategy. Achieving consistent weight loss progress towards your long term goal weight is a taxing endeavor and one of the hardest things to do is pinpoint one particular aspect or strategy. Should I eat less? Or, should I exercise more? How much do I really need to do of each of these to lose weight?
My other goal in this post is to highlight that it’s not a singular component that you should be focused on but more importantly a weight loss strategy that focuses on both calorie intake and calorie expenditure – an approach that identifies a ‘complete equation’ for your personal weight loss formula.
What is my ‘Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)’ a.k.a. ‘Base Calorie Burn’?
For many of you reading this, I expect the term Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) will probably sound like a phrase you’d find in a biology textbook but if you’re looking to lose weight safely and quickly it is a useful concept to take on board with you as you embark on your weight loss journey.
In simple terms, Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories you burn per day without activity. It’s a good place to start your calorie management strategy, think of it as your calorie burning ‘baseline’ number that you’re going to add to as you go through the day burning away more calories towards your weight loss goal.
You burn additional calories throughout your day whilst you’re being active - working, walking, exercising, etc. and the calories you burn from these activities are added incrementally to your Basal Metabolic Rate baseline. In a perfect weight loss world, knowing your exact Basal Metabolic Rate would enable you to calculate your Total Daily Calorie Expenditure by simply adding on the calories burned from any exercise or general activity each day.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the starting amount of calories you burn by doing nothing. In practice, it’s useful to think of it as the primary component of your Total Daily Calorie Expenditure.
Total Daily Calorie Expenditure is the total number of calories you’ve burned in a given day. The difference between the calories you eat in a day and your Total Daily Calorie Expenditure is your Net Energy value, which as we’ll discuss later becomes a very accurate proxy for calculating your weight change and thus managing your calories to lose weight.
How do I calculate my ‘Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)’?
The most common method (called the Harris-Benedict equation) for calculating Basal Metabolic Rate uses gender, height, weight, and age as variables to calculate a fairly accurate approximation.
There are a number of online calculators that do this quickly for you. Try calculating yours now at: http://health.discovery.com/tools/calculators/basal/basal.html
Consistent Negative Net Energy equals consistent weight loss over time
Think of your Basal Metabolic Rate as a relatively large chunk of your Total Daily Calorie Expenditure. Basal Metabolic Rate is where your calorie burning starts but the relationship between calories burned and weight loss is incomplete and relatively useless without forming a complete Net Energy equation as follows:
Simply put, having a high Basal Metabolic Rate and burning a large amount of additional calories per day will not necessarily result in weight loss if your total Calories Consumed value is high. Accordingly, reducing your calorie consumption marginally but not creating a negative net energy value will not result in any weight loss over time.
As I explained above, the key variables that determine Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) are your gender, height, weight, and age. Outside of weight, on a daily basis we don’t practically have the ability to control or change these inputs. And of course, weight is the variable we're trying to reduce! For this reason we can continue to think of Basal Metabolic Rate as a relatively static value over time, looking again at the complete equation for weight loss this certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not important, it just means it’s important to include in your daily calorie management strategy.
Using traineoPLUS to find your own Complete Weight Loss Formula
Whilst building traineo as a weight loss tool we’ve been focused on building these scientifically proven concepts into our software. Our weight loss tools focus on the principle of Net Energy and offer a unique and very simple way to determine your historical Net Energy changes (negative or positive) regardless of your Basal Metabolic Rate, calorie consumption, and Total Calorie Expenditure.
With our premium service, traineoPLUS, our aim was to provide the simplest way to understand, build, and execute a successful long-term weight loss strategy. We've learned from our user success stories that long term weight loss requires lifestyle changes that consistently result in daily Net Energy being negative until it hovers around zero as the user maintains a healthy weight. In contrast, weight loss results achieved by reducing calorie consumption rapidly and inconsistently in only short periods of time (by definition a diet plan is exactly this) are short-lived. Our team is continuing to focus on building the best online tools to help you change your lifestyle to reach your goal weight.
If you’re a traineoPLUS user you’re probably very familiar with how we’re providing simple tools to do these calculations and show you exactly how to modify your Net Energy formula to reach your weight loss objective.
If you’re not already a traineoPLUS user I’d like to encourage you to try a risk free 14-day trial by signing up for a free account at traineo.com and clicking the upgrade link – I think you’ll find the information we can provide you enlightening and extremely valuable.
Best of luck with your weight loss goals!
CEO and Founder