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BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate

The Truth about your BMR and Weight Loss

Everyone has learned about BMI, your body mass index, which is a formula that is used as a rough guideline to determine how much lean body mass you have compared to how much body fat you carry.

However, there is a much more important number that every one should be familiar with, that is not so well known. That is your BMR. Your Basal Metabolic Rate.

Basal Metabolic Rate, BMR, is the amount of calories that your body requires, that your body burns, at total rest. It is based on your height, your weight, and your age and sex. It is a level of caloric expenditure that provides energy for the function of vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as the nervous system, liver, kidneys, sex organs, muscles and skin. The biggest source of calorie burning comes from digestion, or the breaking down of meals consumed.

Your body can burn as many calories doing one half hour of cardio as it does digesting a meal.

But, if you are like many Americans, you may get up, grab some coffee, and head out the door for work. Eventually, you will grab lunch and then later, some dinner. And start the process again the following day, and so on. You eat 2 meals a day, and you are tired, and craving sugar, most likely.

However, if you apply the principle of eating 5-6 meals a day instead, then you burn more, because you are forcing yourself to burn more calories through digestion, then in the first scenario where you are eating just 2 times a day.

Consider this: If you burn 300 calories, through digestion, per meal that you eat, through your BMR, and you eat 2 times a day, you are using up 600 calories of your “BMR Bank”… However, if you eat 6 times a day, every 2-3 hours, now you have used up a whopping 1800 calories of your BMR in that same day. So, eating 5-6 times a day keeps your metabolism stoked… that is the science behind the popular advice.

Finding out your BMR will make sure that you eat a sufficient amount of calories on any particular day to make sure that you keep your metabolism stoked, and that you are not putting your body into “starvation mode.” It can stand to reason that you can increase your daily calories, and lose MORE weight!

I KNOW this, because I did this! I was stuck at a weight plateau for 4 YEARS on a diet of roughly 1000-1300 calories a day. I trained 5-6 times a week and busted my butt trying to lose just one more pound. But other than a few pound flucuation, I never lost any more weight, and fought hard NOT to GAIN weight! After learning about my BMR, and finding that my own BMR was close to 1700 calories a day, I learned that going below that was starving me. Against ALL popular beliefs, I upped my calories to closer to 2000 calories on any given day, and lost an astounding 32 pounds in 4 months! All without making any new changes to my exercise regime. In fact, I scaled back on the cardio, started eating more, and eating regularly, and clean, and lost that last amount of weight. And most importantly, I changed my body composition and got the leaner, harder body I had been craving. Over time, as I have increased my muscle mass, I have continued to increase my calories accordingly, and now, can safely lose weight eating 2400 calories a day!

This is SO much better than trying to starve yourself thin!!

But what if I’m not hungry enough to eat breakfast?
Breakfast came about from the term “BREAK FAST” meaning, stop fasting and start eating, SO, eating breakfast is a MUST, and a shake is not the best choice. After an evening of sleep, and NOT eating, it is best to start the day off with real food… a real meal. Protein, such as egg whites, fat free cottage cheese, or even chicken, and a complex carb of oatmeal, ezekial bread etc. is a perfect start!

Eating a proper breakfast will prevent that mid morning slump, and even that mid afternoon energy crash.

What if I’m not hungry to eat all my meals?
Eat them anyway. You are in charge and you tell your body when it eats, not the other way around. IF you are not hungry, that is a SURE sign that your metabolism is sluggish/slow. Your body is in starvation mode and is conserving calories (translation: not burning calories efficiently, so that they can be saved) rather than burning them. Hunger pangs signal to your brain that your body has used up available energy and needs to get more! Being hungry is a sure sign that you are burning calories.

So, if you eat when you are not hungry anyway, you will retrain your body to learn that, from now on, it will get a constant stream of steady caloric intake. When your body gets used to the new pattern, it will actually start to let the calories go, burn them, and want more. This change in your body can take about 3 weeks to start happening. You will know that your body is working at peak capacity when you start feeling hungry every few hours. This is a good thing!

Why do I need to eat complex carbs vs. simple carbs? What’s the difference, and why are processed foods a no-no?
Your body was made to process food. But over time, food has come to us already processed, through chemicals and additives during processing and packaging. Simple and processed carbs are carbs that have little processing to be done by the body. Our bodies were MADE to process that food, and when that job is taken away, the body has less to do. So what happens, is the body gets the food and says “hey! Our job is already done here… so what should we do?” The body then releases all the food into the blood stream at once, since the processing is already done. This does 2 things that are bad: It saves calories that would normally be burned by the body through digestion/processing, which is not good…. And it puts all the nutrients into the blood stream at once. This makes the insulin levels in your blood spike, and you get a rush. Then, just as quickly, once the insulin levels spike up high, they crash just as quickly, making your blood sugar levels plummet. Your body goes into a panic over this and tells the brain that it must get sugar as quickly as possible to get those insulin levels back up to normal levels, and the quickest form of that is highly processed foods, and/or sugar. This starts a cycle of sugar cravings. Cravings are NOT about lack of will power or about having a sweet tooth. It IS physiological brought about by not eating carbs that are slower releasing: complex carbs.

Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, whole grain breads, brown rice, and oatmeal, have had little, if any, processing done to them. They have not been stripped of their nutrients, and take a lot of energy/calories to process, digest. This burns more calories, and rather than releasing the nutrients into the blood stream all at once, causing insulin levels to spike, it processes the foods a little at a time, and releases it into the bloodstream slowly. This keeps the insulin levels more even, and less likely to spike. So you stay more satiated longer, and you do not have the crashes to follow that would spike another cycle of binge eating.

You must read labels carefully. Always read the label on the BACK of the box, and ignore what the FRONT says. Look for the label to tell you how many carbs, how many sugars are in the food item. And read the ingredients and look for WHOLE GRAINS as an ingredient. Understand and know that “unbleached wheat flour” is STILL processed, and not much healthier than white flour. So the key word you are looking for is, again, whole grain.

The general rule is: if it comes in a box or can, it is probably not good for you. Keep as close to nature as possible when you eat. It does not have to be organic, but clean.

Why must I pair a lean protein with a complex carb?
As I have described above, the more the body must do to break down food for digestion, the more calories are burned, and the slower the nutrients are released in the blood stream, preventing insulin spikes, and keeping you full longer since the food is reaching the bloodstream a little at a time.

When you pair a lean protein WITH the complex carb, it slows down the digestion process even longer, and keeps you more satiated for a longer period of time. It also gives you a steady stream of energy in between meals. Several studies have shown that people that eat protein at every meal are less likely to snack between meals and feel better and stay more alert during the day.

What if I can’t possibly eat that many times a day?
Since it will not be so easy to get in all your meals every day, it is possible to get by with just 3 “food” meals a day, then supplement with protein/meal replacement shakes, or bars.

It is important to know that anything referred to as a protein shake is generally JUST protein, or mostly protein, and if it is to be used as a meal replacement, then you must also add to it some form of carb: either a piece of fruit, or 2 slices of bread for example. Conversely, a meal replacement shake is just what the name implies. A good one will have the 40/40/20 split on macros that you want. An MRP (meal replacement product) with a label that reads 9g protein, 36g carbs and 7g of fat, is NOT going to be a good choice, as it is mostly sugar (the amount of carbs vs. protein is a dead giveaway!)! Go with one where the protein equals the carbs. Protein bars, or MRP bars, are also a good substitute, however, traditionally contain more sugar than a protein shake, and while they are a better alternative than skipping a meal altogether, an MRP shake is a better bet. Still, a protein bar can be a wonderful treat and give you the sense of eating a candy bar, and sometimes when dieting, this is just what you need to stay on track! They are also convenient to take with you in your purse, or gym bag, or keep in your briefcase or desk at work.

Protein shake mix can be kept in a shaker bottle so when you are on the road or at work and in need of a meal, you can just add water and drink it down, then move on!