Updated: Oct 21, 2021
What is BMR?
Overall caloric expenditure. Some call it BMI (which is a bit different), some call it BMR, but overall everybody refers to the number of calories that we eat on a regular basis.
See, our bodies don’t like changes. Our brain is constantly fighting to create what is called homeostasis. In other words, a state of balance. Between hormones, between enzymes, and also between energy. Even if we eat slightly different amounts every day, our brain knows how many calories our body needs to meet its daily requirement to not lose or gain weight. So, on average, we pretty much eat the same amount. Unless we trick the brain with artificial foods and disrupt the balance. More on the artificial foods here.
Exactly this balance is what we call BMR or basal metabolic rate. The number of calories we need per day to maintain the balance. In other words to not lose or gain weight.
Comparison with a car
The best way to describe it is to use my favorite analogy. The car one. I always like to use it, as it explains perfectly how our body burns energy.
Your body is like a car. If the car is parked, but the engine is still running, that car will consume some fuel. As soon as we start driving the car, it will start to consume more. It is the same with our body, however, the only difference is that once our engine stops, there is no turning back.
In other words, until we die, or our vital organs and systems stop working, even if we never move, we are still consuming energy. Our engine is always working. When we sleep, sit, watch TV, drive, etc…, our body needs and consumes energy to run all the systems and organs that keep us alive.
When we start moving and exercising it consumes more. Just like a car if its engine was to be working 24/7.
Why BMR is different from person to person
As cars are different, just so every human being is. Let’s go back to the car.
If we compare two cars. A small city car, maybe like a SMART and a muscle car, like Chevrolet Camaro we already know which one will consume more fuel to both, stay parked with an engine on, and drive to a certain destination.
It is no different with people. Why some people can eat 3000 calories and not gain any extra weight, and some others can barely cross 1200. Because some people have bigger engines than others. And a bigger engine is going to need more fuel to do the same work as a small one.
A powerlifter will burn more calories to do one bodyweight squat than a person who has never trained. Why? The powerlifter has built his engine over the years of training and it requires more fuel to run. And with the big engine, comes more performance.
A car like SMART won’t ever reach 200 km/h or 120 mph, but for a car like Chevrolet Camaro for instance, 120 mph will be a piece of cake.
This is the main reason why all the calculators out there won’t ever be accurate. Yes, you state how active you are, but you can’t give an accurate amount of muscles that you maintain on a regular basis.
This is why I do not recommend calculators. They do work to a certain extent but can’t be as precise, just because they are made for the majority of people. But as you already know, we are all NOT the same.
At this point, you are probably wondering how the hell then, people know their BMR and can do changes accordingly. Let me teach you.
How to calculate BMR.
It is not easy, and it is not fast. But like everything else in life, you have to work hard to get it.
The best way to find out your basal metabolic rate is to be consistent for two weeks. And, by being consistent, I mean, to not make conscious changes in your food and to consistently track it.
See. Our body likes balance. So if you let your brain decide how much to eat, it will eat the same amount every day, so it makes sure that nothing changes in the body.
And this is exactly what we want to find out, right? The number of calories we currently need to maintain our body weight, so we can do the right changes, to get the right results.
So for two weeks, you have to let yourself eat as you normally would, without restricting or pushing food, without judging or punishing.
This is important as we need to know, not only how many calories we eat, but also what choices we make related to food.
After those two weeks, if you want to reduce calories, you will not only know how much to reduce but also from where to cut. Let’s say you notice that you have a dessert after every meal. Or you tend to overeat at dinner. Well, you will know where to cut from.
Of course, the annoying part is that you will have to track the amount of food you eat. I know that this is not the most pleasant experience, but it is just for two weeks, and if you are on the journey of monitoring and adjusting calories, you are probably aware of the fact that at some point that has to happen.
Ok, let's get to the example.
I recommend having some sort of journal. The notes on your phone, piece of paper, an app, or whatever you feel you are going to use the most.
For me personally, apps like myfitnespall and the Fitbit app work perfectly as they have plenty of food sources and count the calories for you.
An alternative could be to record the amount of food and at the end of the day to calculate it in calories.
Either way, after two weeks you will have a better understanding of the way you tend to eat and the choices you make, as well as the number of calories your body needs to maintain its current body weight.
From there, the choice is yours. Cut or add calories, replace food sources with healthier options, you choose. You`ve got to put the work in to see the desired outcome, so grab a pen and paper, and find out your real BMR.