Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is basically the calories you would burn a day when at rest with no real activity or digestion occurring. There are various online BMR calculators that can calculate an estimate of your BMR, and then use this to estimate the calories you burn a day. In this article, I want to discuss the methods these calculators use to calculate an estimate of your BMR, how this can then be used to calculate your daily calories burned and the relevance of this to a calorie counting process.
In order to estimate your BMR, two commonly used methods are the Harris Benedict equation and the equation from MD Miffin and ST St Jeor. Both of these methods can calculate a BMR estimate by using formulas that include you weight, height, age and gender. These equations are basically linear equations of these factors and the best way to apply them is through the use of an online BMR calculator.
The Harris Benedict equation was formulated in 1919 and as such has historical significance in this area, while the equation by MD Miffin and ST St Jeor was formulated in 1990. Some studies have shown the MD Miffin and ST St Jeor method to be more accurate, however the two methods often yield quite similar results.
One of the main benefits in using these formulas to estimate your BMR is that you can then transform these estimates into estimates of the calories you burn a day. This is then some directly useful information in a calorie counting process. Calorie counting basically involves counting the calories you consume a day, and if you are attempting to lose weight, you should aim to create a mild calorie deficit in relation to the calories you burn a day. This implies the calorie counter will need some understanding of the calories they burn. As such, by calculating your BMR and transforming this into an estimate of the calories you burn, this can give you a starting point to adopt a calorie counting process.
In order to transform an estimate of your BMR into an approximation of the number of calories you burn a day, your BMR is simply multiplied by a factor that depends on your activity level. For example, if someone has a low level of activity and gets little to no exercise, this estimate would be formed by multiplying your BMR by 1.2. If on the other hand someone’s activity level was high, exercising 6 to 7 days a week, their BMR should be multiplied by 1.725 to derive the estimate of the calories they burn a day.
Once you have an understanding of the calories you burn a day, you can aim for a basic calorie deficit until the point a healthy weight is reached. It is widely reported that creating a calorie deficit of 3500 calories should result in about 1 lb of weight loss. This implies that consuming 500 calories a day less than you burn should result in about 1 lb of weight loss a week.
Once you get into the calorie counting process, it is useful to journal your diet and weight loss over time, which will allow you to fine tune your estimate of the calories you are burning and what sort of calorie consumption should lead to what levels of weight loss. Using a BMR calculator to form the sort of BMR calculations described here is however a good way to start to get an initial idea of how many calories you should be consuming.
In addition to understanding the importance of calories in weight loss, you should always consult your doctor before commencing any weight loss plan, as they will be able to give any advice that might be specific to your personal situation.