Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This week I want to talk about the final parameter we measure each week: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). A lot of people confuse this with BMI (body mass index) but it’s quite different.

While Body Mass Index is a fairly common measure that can help you know if you’re overweight, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a much more specific measure of how many calories your body needs to maintain it’s current state. Put simply, your BMR is how many calories you need to live. I like to call it “hitting your minimum.”

The value of knowing your BMR is pretty high, especially for women. Typically, 9 out of 10 women aren’t eating enough, although most of them believe that they are. We’ve seen this time and time again in Biggest Loser.

I know I keep harping on this, but it keeps coming up. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and just about the entire medical profession says that women shouldn’t ever go below 1,200 calories.

As a practical matter, most women’s BMR will come out higher than that. In this latest group, most of the women had a BMR between 1,300 & 1,400 calories. That means that they need to consume 1,300-1,400 calories each day to maintain, without regard to exercise.

It’s pretty simple. Eat that many calories, add some exercise, and you’ll start losing weight. While there are some other factors that play in, it pretty much comes down to math. Do more exercise, burn more calories, and you’ll lose more weight.

This is why I like to call that 2nd daily workout the secret weapon. It makes a huge difference in weight loss—even if it’s just walking a mile or two.

We used to have to do a calculation to determine BMR for people. Now it’s easy to measure, just by stepping on the scale. This means there’s no excuse not to hit your minimum, since it’s so easy to figure it out!

If you don’t, you’re really fighting yourself. Your metabolism will stay artificially low, you won’t operate at peak efficiency, and you won’t recover from exercise as well either. This can lead to feeling run down, and even illness or injury.

While guys tend to be over-eaters, I’ll occasionally run across one who isn’t, so here’s the guideline for men: never go below 1,800 calories. Holding to 2,000 calories is pretty strict, and 2,200-2,400 calories a day is usually pretty comfortable.

Our Week Four winner was Alexa Stidham, who lost 1.6% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs. Shawn Bowers and Steve Jones tied for second, losing 1.2% of their body weight and 4.0 lbs and 3.2 lbs respectively. Nicole Clodfelter and Karen Wolfe tied for third place, both losing 1.0% of their body weight, 2.6 lbs and 1.6 lbs.

Next week we’ll look at how we’re using free weight exercises to change things up with the group. Don’t forget, if you have any questions about fitness or working out, please feel free to contact me at Tom’s Fitness on Facebook.

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