Recently, a friend of mine NV introduced me to the concept of basal metabolic rate, or BMR. After doing a bit of research, and also because the idea of implementing BMR in health meshes with my personal beliefs, I’ve decided to try my hand at living it.
Many people want to gain/lose weight, for various reasons. Some are overweight and want to lose those excess pounds. Some want that lean, toned look and want to cut down fat. Others are the skinny lanky type, and want to put on some muscles. Then there are those who just simply want abs.
So what is the secret to gaining or losing weight?
The way I see it, it has always been about caloric input vs caloric output. Everyday you use up calories – whether that is due to your job (moving around a busy pharmacy) or exercise (getting PUMPED UP at the gym) or simply living (intrinsic bodily functions). Everyday, you also take in calories – from drinking and eating.
So if you want to lose weight, then make sure that you always output MORE than you input; all that means is make sure that you burn more calories than you consume. So if you are not a very active person (desk job, go home and relax after work), then obviously your output is low – so then in this case, make sure your input is low too. On the other hand, if you are an athlete and you’re always exercising, then you can afford to eat more since you burn more.
All of this is captured by the BMR. Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that your body intrinsically burns in a day, from actions such as cellular respiration, muscular repair, glycogen metabolism, etc…
So theoretically, if you were to lie in bed all day you would burn an amount of calories equal to your BMR. But obviously, none of us get to lie in bed all day, so the BMR is just the first step.
So calculate your BMR here:
So after calculating our BMR, we multiply it by a factor that is determined by how much physical activity we do:
Now you have a modified BMR – one that tells you how many calories you burn, on average, per day.
So if you want to healthily gain weight, simply consume your modified BMR +500 calories per day. And if you want to healthily lose weight, simply consume your modified BMR -500 calories per day.
Pretty easy right?
While I applaud this method of weight control (and am trying it myself), one must be aware of its drawbacks in order to fully understand its possibilities and limitations so to use this tool correctly.
Firstly, the Harris-Benedict activity factor that your BMR is multiplied by is an estimation, and a grossly big one at that. The categories are quite closed, and it is often hard for people to differentiate between moderate and hard, and also between hard and intense. Secondly, this method computes caloric gains vs. losses on a daily basis – the real story of what is happening in your body occurs over more than 24 hours. A more accurate portrayal may be a weekly calculation, but that is much harder to implement when compared to daily portioning.
Lastly, and for me the most relevant, it is so SO SO SO difficult to control your caloric intake on a daily basis. You are basically calorie-counting everything you eat.
It makes the task of cooking a drama of adding and measuring ingredients. It also means that I am hungry most of the time, since lowering carbs-intake greatly decreases your caloric input.
All in all, I think that unless you are very dedicated to losing that weight (which I am not) or you are so overweight that it is a medical problem, the best solution is to keep your BMR in mind and try to work within it. If you miss out on some days, its not a big deal. But knowing your limits goes a long way towards leading a healthy life.
Because after all, abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym (not that I would know anything about abs :P!)