Resting Metabolic Rate
Perhaps you've heard the term in passing or scanned over it in a recent newspaper headline, but your individualized resting metabolic rate (RMR) holds a lot more value than you may have ever realized. In fact, it is the basis for all things weight loss. People often blame the inability to lose weight on a slow metabolism, but in reality it is your RMR that is a more decisive factor in weight gain or weight loss.
Energy is needed not just for physical exertion, but for a number of internal activities as well, explained the Mayo Clinic. When your body is at rest, even though you may not think you are burning calories, functions including circulating blood, growing and repairing cells, adjusting hormone levels and breathing are all expending energy.
The amount of energy – or number of calories – that your body uses to carry out these processes is your RMR. It is the rate that your body burns energy when it is at complete rest. By calculating your RMR, you can identify just how many calories your body needs to perform these basic internal functions.
Thus, the number of calories that you burn or consume in a given day is essentially not useful in calculating weight loss unless you know your base RMR, as this number must be taken into the overall equation.
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Calculating Your RMR
The rate can range widely from one person to another, as it is based on several individualized factors including age, gender, body composition and size. Adult men typically have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight. As such, they have an easier time burning calories. Muscle tends to decrease with age and because it is more metabolically active than fat, having more muscle will make your metabolic rate higher, explained Pritikin's Fitness Manager and Certified Exercise Physiologist Lizbeth Simancas. Thus, losing muscle will lower your metabolic rate, so you'll burn less calories at rest.
"Generally the older that you are, the lower your RMR will be unless you're able to maintain your muscle mass or slightly increase it," Lizbeth said.
To put this into perspective, Lizbeth offered the example of a 28 year old woman weighing 130 pounds and standing at 5'8 with an RMR of 1100. This number signifies that on any given day, this woman would need to feed herself 1100 calories, as a baseline, throughout the day to stay level.
One of the biggest mistakes that Lizbeth sees is people trying to consume fewer calories than their RMR in an effort to lose weight. This doesn't work.
"That's a huge problem, because then your body is going into starvation mode," she explained. "Now that food is going to get stored as fat instead. So you want to feed your body that minimum amount, your exact RMR."
And that is even before bringing physical activity into the equation.
Pritikin's RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) Test
As part of several different packages available at Pritikin, we offer in-house RMR testing. To get the most accurate result, guests must fast for four hours prior to to the test, which is typically done first thing in the morning. Guests must walk very slowly or take the shuttle over to the gym as to not burn any extra calories.
Once there, you will be connected to a device and instructed to breathe into a tube for 10 to 15 minutes. After 30 consistent breaths, you will have a reading of your RMR. Once you have this number, you will be better equipped to understand the optimal type of physical activity you need for shedding fat and building muscle, and boosting your RMR. You'll know the precise number of calories your body burns, at rest, in a day.
As Lizbeth has said: "Once you know your RMR, it's like the magic number."
There'll be no more guessing as to how much you can eat – and how much you should exercise – to reach your goals. With these results, your dieticians and exercise leaders at Pritikin can help you tailor the Pritikin Program to your body. Unlike fad diets and quick-fix weight-loss programs, you won't have to worry about regaining all of that weight or even worse, damaging your metabolism. Here are Pritikin, successful guests are able to achieve permanent weight loss without the risk of damaging their metabolisms. And best of all, they do it with the support, insight and expertise of the entire Pritikin staff.