Your Basal Metabolic Rate And Reality

Your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is one of the more often talked about principles of weight loss. It’s the number of calories that you body burns and it does not include the calories you burn from exercise. Those are bonus calories. Unfortunately for us, there’s a plethora of misinformation out there about your BMR and it can can or can’t do.

Most people just straight up overestimate the actual number of calories that they burn in a day. You take someone that has normally been under-eating for the last few months and that individual will expect to lose weight within a few weeks of dieting. It just can’t happen.


Metabolisms do vary, sure, but not to the great extent that you can get away with eating your daily allowance before lunch!

I remember when I thought it was necessary to consume the same amount of food each day in order to build muscle. I did build muscle but I got fat in the process. I overestimated my daily caloric allowance for a given day.

Does muscle help or hurt your BMR?

In all cases, it surely helps but how much it helps is up in the air. Magazines like to tell you that you’ll burn 50 extra calories for every pound of muscle mass that you carry. I don’t believe that as much, research shows it’s more like 50-100 calories total over the course of the day.

Not bad but you shouldn’t be stuffing your face. That being said, you do need to consume a higher amount of calories on your training days to replenish and recover.

In all honesty, people eat too few calories to lose a ton of weight in a short period of time.

You don’t need to subtract XYZ calories to lose weight, you need to eat a certain amount of calories UNDER your BMR. So if you want to lose two pounds per week you need to eat around 1000 calories under your normal intake. That’s a lot.

So here’s the real world applications of everything we just said.

  1. To start losing weight, eat 500-600 calories under your BMR (just google BMR calculator).
  2. Your BMR accounts for 80% of your calories burned.
  3. Don’t include calories burned from activity. That’s just extra. You want to lose weight without ever working out.
  4. Your BMR adjusts with every pound you lose so you must continually evolve your diet with it.
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Leave A Reply (12 comments so far)

  1. Lindsey
    9 years ago


    What if your bmr is 1400 calories?

  2. admin
    9 years ago

    That’s low. Most women won’t have that low of a bmr and if they do it’s due to some dieting damaging that occurs with too much exercise and too little food for too long.

  3. Lindsey
    9 years ago

    I am 5’7″ and weigh 135 and am 29 years old. According to calculators my bmr is 1420 but I am not currently trying to lose weight. Many of my clients bmr’s are around 1400 though according to calculators. Anyone who weighs somewhere between 130-150 is going to have a bmr around 1400-1500 according to calculators. That may sound like a low wieght but for example one of my clients is 5’2″ and weighs 135. Definately some weight to lose but her bmr is 1392. What would you say for someone like her?

  4. Chris
    9 years ago

    I don’t know if I buy this. Where I work and train we have a body analysis machine. According to a test I took before I went on a fat-loss diet last spring my BMR should be about 2100 kcal. I lost about 24 pounds of lard in three months while eating 2500 kcal a day, except saturdays which I used as a no holds barred refeed day. I didn’t count on saturdays, but I was probably somewhere between 4 and 5000.
    Of course I had six training sessions a week plus a long walk. I also don’t own a car, so maybe I work my body a little harder than the average person, but 1600 kcal still sounds awfully low. I think I probably would have come close to death on 1600.

    Then again. Maybe our machine isn’t as accurate as the manufacturer would have it.

  5. admin
    9 years ago

    What don’t you buy? I’m confused. It’s literally possible to lose weight consuming more calories since the consumptions of those foods may have changed, thus allowing more fat loss.

  6. Chris
    9 years ago

    I just don’t think going that low would work for me. I wouldn’t have any energy for my training. In reality I would be probably be on most days 12 to 1300 kcal below maintencance. I also notice that if I try to bulk on 2500 to 600, which according to this would be just about right nothing really happens. I need around 3500 to gain anything significant.

  7. admin
    9 years ago

    Women, typically, don’t eat enough. So maybe they have a low BMR but in that situation, they’d need to eat more. Again most women have coffee for breakfast, a salad for lunch then whatever their family eats for dinner. They need to eat more. When I say more I mean lean protein, good carbs, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. Especially more protein.

  8. admin
    9 years ago

    That’s where personalization comes into it. You know your body. I’m 6″6, I need to eat a ton of calories in order to grow but I learned my body. So stay with what works for you.

  9. shane
    9 years ago

    i,ve been on these bmr sites,im 5ft 9ins,188lbs and i,ve had results from 1750 to 2150 on differant sites ive been eating 1500kcals a week and lose about 2lb aweek with 3x20min cardio aweek i.m now 160lbs

  10. William
    8 years ago

    I completely disagree with this. Eat 1000, or even 5 to 600 UNDER your BMR? How about eat your BMR, exercise and burn 7 or 800 calories and lose weight that way? Also, if your a dude and trying to maintain some mass eat that 1.5 G’s of protein a day and I only carb before and after gym, plus a small breakfast. But eating that much under your BMR is damn near impossible. Mine is 2100 Cals/day, I’m 6’1″ and 205 lbs…your telling me to eat 1500 cals a day?

  11. admin
    8 years ago

    Let’s say you eat your BMR and workout. Your results are going to be slower than if you adjusted your calories AND your work load. Also every must eat 1.5 grams of carbs huh? That ignores different body types (an edno will need less protein) and individual metabolism.s Not to mention that with that high of protein you may prevent fat loss.

    Also by limiting your carbohydrates to those times and those times alone, you do nothing beneficial for your metabolism or energy levels.

  12. William
    8 years ago

    What I’m saying is it’s damn near impossible to under eat by that much. I have enough trouble as it is eating 2200 cals a day. And you do need that amt of protein, especially since in order to eat low cals like that all you’re really eating is meat and a small amount of carbs. Obviously different metabolism’s play different roles in this, but overall I still would not cut my cals by that much. Too much muscle loss. And I could change up my carb intake times but I’d rather struggle through the day than through the gym.

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