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What is Basal Metabolic Rate? And how do I measure mine?

You’ve probably heard people talk about having a fast or slow metabolism — but what does that mean exactly?

It’s true that your metabolism is linked to weight. But, contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?

Your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to perform your body’s most basic (basal) functions like breathing and cell production.

Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for all of its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body needs to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

How your body burns calories

Your BMR helps the body burn calories. The other way you can burn calories is through movement and exercise. And, by monitoring what you eat and not consuming too many or too little calories, you can prevent unwanted weight gain and weight loss.

Measure your BMR

The Harris-Benedict equation (also called the Harris-Benedict principle) is a method used to estimate your BMR and daily kilocalorie requirements. The estimated BMR value is multiplied by a number that corresponds to your activity level.

 Calculating the Harris-Benedict BMR

BMR =
 

Men

(10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5

Women

(10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Determine recommended intake

The following table will help you calculate your recommended daily intake to maintain your current weight.

 Daily kilocalories needed

Little to no exercise

BMR × 1.2

Light exercise (1 – 3 days per week)

BMR × 1.375

Moderate exercise (3 – 5 days per week)

BMR × 1.55

Heavy exercise (6 – 7 days per week)

BMR × 1.725

Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)

BMR × 2

Download the Basal Metabolic Rate PDF here

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Sources: BMI Calculator. Available at www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Available at www.fao.org. Accessed 1 May 2017.

World Health Organization. Available at www.who.int/nutrition/publications/nutrientrequirements. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Heart Foundation. Available at www.heartfoundation.org.au. Accessed 1 May 2017.

American Heart Foundation. Available at www.heart.org. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Mayo Clinic. Available at www.mayoclinic.org. Accessed 1 May 2017.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at www.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Irish Heart. Available at www.irishheart.ie. Accessed 1 May 2017. 

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