Basal Metabolic Rate – How much should you be eating?

When it comes to looking at your own personal nutrition there are certain things that we can do in order to figure out roughly what we should be eating. It gives us a guide to work towards so that we can try and get our intake right for the goal we are trying to achieve.

Our goal might be to gain size and mass, lose weight, improve cardiovascular fitness.

In order to do this we start by calculating our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). To do this we need some simple information.

That is;

• Height

• Age

• Weight

• Gender

Armed with this information we can work out our BMR. I will use me as an example.

• 181 cm

• 37 years

• 90 kg

• Male

You can use a BMR Calculator to work out the figures. Here is an example of a BMR Calculator;

For me my BMR is 1851 Calories. This basically means that in order for my body to function it needs 1851 Calories per day.

The technical breakdown is below;

“The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy needed while resting in a temperate environment when the digestive system is inactive. It is the equivalent of figuring out how much gas an idle car consumes while parked. In such a state, energy will be used only to maintain vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin. For most people, upwards of ~70% of total energy (calories) burned each day is due to upkeep. Physical activity makes up ~20% of expenditure and ~10% is used for the digestion of food, also known as thermogenesis”.

So now armed with this information we can look at our activity level. This can be done as follows;

Sedentary with little or no exercise 2,222

Exercise 1-3 times/week 2,545

Exercise 4-5 times/week 2,712

Daily exercise or intense exercise 3-4 times/ week 2,869

Intense exercise 6-7 times/week 3,193

Very intense exercise daily, or physical job 3,517

From the above you can see what my Daily Calories need to be in relation to my daily activity levels. This is just an estimation. On a normal week what would your daily activity levels be?

Exercise: 15-30 minutes of elevated heart rate activity.

Intense exercise: 45-120 minutes of elevated heart rate activity.

Very intense exercise: 2+ hours of elevated heart rate activity.

Once you have worked this out you can look at the chart and get your estimated Calories per day.

For me I will say that I would be ‘Intense Exercise 6-7 times per week’. Therefore I need approx 3193 calories per day to maintain my current state.

Armed with this information I can now accurately plan my daily intake depending on my goals.

If I want to increase mass then I would eat excess calories compared to what I need to maintain. Therefore to increase mass I might eat 3193 plus 400 so a total of 3593 Calories per day.

If I want to lose weight then I might eat a deficit of 400 calories per day. Therefore to lose weight/body fat I would eat 3193 minus 400 so a total of 2793 Calories per day.

There is a standard estimate that a 3500 calorie deficit equals one pound of fat loss. Therefore using this very crude estimate then 500 calories a day would equal 1lb a week fat loss.

The goal is to lose no more than 1-2 lbs of body fat per week. This ensures, as much as possible, that we don’t lose too much lean muscle.

You could also use a percentage so once you workout what your BMR is plus your activity level then if you want a small amount of weight loss use 10-15% deficit. If you want moderate weight loss then use 15-25% deficit and if you want large weight loss 25% plus but this would be quite extreme so I would stick to small or moderate.

So it is as simple as this to work out. The hard bit is actually doing it. You need to give yourself a good idea of what your Calories look like. What does 3193 calories actually equant to in terms of foods.

Also you would look at what breakdown you want. You would need to look at the macro breakdown within those calories.

• Protein

• Carbohydrates

• Fats

You want to have a rough idea of how much you want of each. Do you just want to go in thirds so 33%, 33%, 33%. Do you want to have a high protein diet or a high fat diet and low carbohydrate diet.

There are so many different diet ideas around and different ways of eating. This would be another article all together to try and begin working out what percentages of each you want to eat. I will do one of these soon with my thoughts.

I would say there are TWO important things to think about.

The first is that we are not ‘dieting’. Take that word and burn it. We are trying to change our lifestyle. We want new eating habits that we will keep and continue with moving forward. The second is that we want to live a balanced lifestyle when it comes to food. Eat everything in moderation and enjoy your food. Eating the colours of the rainbow when it comes to what is on your plate. Getting a bit of everything is so important.

Before you start looking at High Fat diets or Low carb diets or High protein diets just think about keeping to a nice healthy well balanced diet which is colourful and full of flavour. The other bits can all come in time but get this right first and the other small changes will be easy….or at least easier to implement.

For now just think about what you are eating. If every time you put something in your mouth you at least think about the nutritional content then this is a start. If the drink or food item offers little to no nutritional content or goodness then try not to eat or drink it and just put it back…replace it with something healthier.

If you change your lifestyle and eating habits one step at a time you will see the health benefits of which there are many.

Thanks for reading and please just ask if you need any help or have any questions. Here is the BMR Calculator again as well as lots of other helpful tools.

Richard East @ Active-Rest