Increasing Basal Metabolic Rate and Daily Metabolism

Your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the number of calories your body burns each day with no activity.

Your total daily metabolism includes your BMR, and the additional calories burned by your lifestyle, such as work activity levels, exercising, digestion, and home activity levels.

Understanding your unique metabolism and how to keep it revved-up can help you reach your fitness and weight-management goals more effectively.

Most of us know that your metabolic rate decreases at a rate of about two to three percent per decade after the age of thirty.

The reason for this decline has more to do with losing muscle mass than it does with aging, so developing strategies to maintain your muscle mass can help keep your metabolism in high gear.

Experts say that strength training of any type can increase the number of calories your body burns by as much as 7 percent a day.*

One pound of lean muscle burns 2 to 4 times more calories than fat which can have a significant impact on trimming down and becoming more fit.

Muscle occupies about 30% less space than fat, so even if you’re not losing weight, you may see a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel.

Impr0ving your lean body mass to fat mass ratio is an important component of enhancing your overall fitness.

Improving your body composition means burning calories through exercise – both cardiovascular and strength training.

You also burn calories through daily activities such as working and doing household chores.

Did you know your body also burns a significant number of calories each day just to stay alive?

The calories you burn to maintain normal body functions such as breathing, keeping your heart pumping and your brain working is is know as your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), also known as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Your RMR accounts for the vast majority of calories you burn each day, up to 75%.

Other Factors That Can Increase Metabolism

  • Certain hormones can increase or decrease metabolism.
  • Certain supplements can increase or decrease metabolism.
  • Caffeine Increases RMR.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Prescription and OTC drugs can increase or decrease RMR.

Cardiovascular training has acute increased calorie burning effects but does not significantly contribute to a chronic increase in RMR.

In other words, your metabolism increases during cardiovascular exercise, but returns to normal short after you’re done.

Whereas weight training increases your muscle mass, so even when you’re not exercising, you’re metabolism is elevated.

Factors That Can Decrease Metabolism

Weight loss causes a decrease in RMR, which is why it is important to continually monitor RMR during weight loss.

As you lose bodyfat, your metabolism will decrease, which is fine if you adjust your calorie intake to match the decrease in calorie need.

Caloric restriction – Eating too few calories will cause a decrease in RMR.  And this is a very important point.

Your bodies mission is to preserve your life, not lose body fat. So if you restrict your calorie intake too much, it will take measures to reduce your metabolic rate, so that you don’t burn as many calories.

Your body will seek to preserve it’s ‘long-term energy‘, which is fat, and it will get it’s calories by robbing your muscles of protein.

Think about what happens when people go on a calorie-restricted diet, they condition their body to operate on fewer calories.  Then when they stop their diet and eat what used to be their ‘normal‘ calorie intake, they actually gain weight.

Repeat this process over and over through yo-yo dieting, and you can continually  reduce your metabolic rate, which makes it even more difficult to lose weight in the future.

So the key to successful weight management is to feed your body enough ‘quality’ calories to provide for it’s metabolic requirements, while creating an imbalance between ‘calories in‘ vs. ‘calories out‘.

When you hit this ‘sweet spot’, your body will determine that it’s needs are being met, so that it is more likely to let go of excessive body fat.

The best way to know how many calories to eat each day is to get your RMR – Resting Metabolic Rate measured with a Body Gem indirect calorimetry device.

For more information, click on BodyGem.

* Souce: ‘Resting Energy Expenditure, Body Composition, and Excess Weight in the Obese.’ Gary D. Foster, et al., Metabolism, Vol.3, No. 5 (May), 1988. pgs. 467-472.