Let’s Talk About Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR

by glenn on July 5, 2016

muscle burns 75-100 calories per dayWith the recent controversy surrounding the weight loss and gain of past Biggest Loser contestants, I think it is a good moment to talk a little bit about Basal Metabolic Rate and what it means for each normal individuals.

I have had similar conversation with many people over the years, who fall into more normal weight categories and would not qualify as a Biggest Loser contestant.  The best way to talk about Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, is to liken it to an idling car.  When a car is idling it will burn a minimal amount of fuel just to keep the engine running.  If you put the car in drive and want to pick up speed, you will infect more fuel into the engine to reach those speeds.  During those times you will burn more fuel.

Similarly, with your body, if you decide you want to binge watch your favorite program and do not get out of bed all day you will burn a minimal amount of calories during that time.  Your body’s BMR is the minimal amount of calories burned to “keep the lights on.”  This keeps your organs functioning, your muscles fueled, and pushes nutrients to the places that need it.  If/when you start moving, your calorie burn will increase over and above your BMR.

As an added layer of this example, if you add more muscle to your body, you will burn more calories.  In the same fashion a car with a V-8 engine burns more fuel than a V-6.  Each pound of muscle burns 75-100 calories per day.  This is one reason why it is important to increase muscle mass.  It may sound counter intuitive, but to lose weight, it makes sense to gain muscle.  This is where working with an Upper East Side personal trainer can help.

Even if you were to stay the same weight, you would improve your body composition and figure, which is really what people want.  Personal trainers are the professionals people turn to for help in finding the balance to achieve these goals.  It’s what they do.  When you find the right personal trainer for your needs, goals can be realized.

For the majority of people, one cannot compare themselves to a contestant on The Biggest Loser.  Their bodies changed so dramatically physiologically, even the doctor’s weren’t prepared.  They had starved their bodies so much comparatively and their BMR adjusted to the lower calorie intake, as it should, but never increased as they began to gain weight again.  Had this been muscle weight instead of fat this may be a different.  At the end of the day, whether it be a car or your body, more muscle will burn more fuel.


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