Understanding Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) + Tips for How To Boost It



Your BMR, or metabolism, is important for burning calories when you’re at rest.  All your organs burn a certain amount of calories.  Let’s dig deep into what BMR means and how it’ll impact your diet plan.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories your body burns each day performing the basic functions that keep you alive and kicking.  It takes your current weight into account, as well as your age and the foods you eat.

In fact, the biggest burn you’ll experience throughout the day is the calories burned by the functions of your body from circulating blood, controlling body temperature and muscle contractions.  Every function that your body performs will have a number of calories attached to it.

What Does BMR Measure?

Your basal metabolic rate is linked closely to your metabolism, and it’s why people who want to diet or increase their calorie burn will want to raise their metabolism.

Calculations to Figure Out Your BMR

You can choose to plug your height, weight, age, and activity level into a calculator to figure out how many calories you burn without performing any activity.  Calculators vary, though.  You can also figure out the calculations on your own using the Harris-Benedict equation.  The calculations are different for each gender.

Men: 65 + (6.2 x your weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

Women: 655 = (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.3 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years) – 161

Once you’ve figured out the answer to this equation based on your specific information, that will tell you how many calories are burned per day without doing any exercise.

Here’s an online BMR calculator for you to try.

Does Resting Metabolic Rate Increase with Exercise?

As you can see above, men and women have different calculations to figure out their BMR.  That’s because men have more muscle than women do.  A woman’s body has more fat content than a man’s body does.  Muscles are a hungry part of the body that will burn more energy than fat will. 

BMR as You Age

While many people believed for years that as they age, they just lose their capacity for keeping weight off.  You might hear older men and women make comments like “I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted, and now, it causes me to gain weight.” This isn’t because they’ve gotten older.  It’s because they’ve lost muscle as they’ve aged.

Other Influences on BMR

Crash diets and fasting can have an influence on the metabolism or BMR.  The body will assume that there’s a famine that could lead to starvation.  It triggers the body to slow itself down because it believes there is a reason to start storing calories and fat.

Tips for Boosting Your BMR

Exercise Often

While eating healthy is important, exercising is equally as vital to losing weight.  Your exercise routine should include some strength training to build muscle.  Remember, muscle is a hungry thing that will burn more calories than fat will.  It’ll take some time to build muscle, but it’s a great boost to the metabolism, and will burn calories even on days when you skip exercise.

hiking for exercise

Don’t Skip Meals – Especially Breakfast

There have been studies that have noticed a link between eating breakfast and boosting the body’s BMR.  The breakfast should be nutritious, filling, and low in calories to see the benefits.  You’re not going to boost your BMR with a donut and coffee in the morning.  If you eat a breakfast with high protein, it’ll help with muscle building you might do later in the day at the gym.  Protein is a building block for muscles, and it’ll keep you full longer, too.  You’re less likely to snack on something mid-morning.

healthy breakfast

Check with a Doctor

After calculating your BMR, you might find that you should be burning hundreds of calories.  If you feel that your BMR is slow, visit your doctor to make sure you’re not plagued with a medical condition that causes problems.  An underactive thyroid can lead to weight gain.

Famine for the Body

This should be touched on again, because it’s often why many people don’t lose weight.  You should never limit your calories too much.  This leads to a body that thinks it’s going to starve.  It’ll have the opposite impact of causing the body to hold on to all its fat stores.

The Plateau

After some weight loss, the body might even go into a plateau.  It’s this dreaded part of the diet process where the needle on the scale refuses to move.  People who have hit a plateau can trick the body into losing by changing their diet or exercise program.  If you have been doing cardio consistently, move on to weight training for a few weeks.  It’ll have the added bonus of building muscle, which you have just learned is great for your BMR.

Your BMR shouldn’t be relied upon to rid the body of extra calories.  It should be used to help you manage your exercise and diet program, as you lower consumed calories and increase your exercise.

basalmetabolism cycle


About the author: Janis is loves to study topics involving health & wellness, and is obsessed with natural supplements and learning about what goes into them and what they do, or don’t do.  She went to university for nutrition with a minor in economics. Out of the Beach Baby Squad, she is the most likely to stay home. She also does the most of the product reviews on this site.