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Basal Metabolic Rate: All You Need to Know

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated Aug 18, 2021

Basal Metabolic Rate: All You Need to Know

Almost everyone at one point or another has tried to gain weight or lose weight. They also know how rewarding it is when things go right and how frustrating it can be when they don’t.

After all, metabolism differs from person to person and the struggle to either gain or lose can be taxing.

This is why knowing about basal metabolic rate matters because it is a key factor in weight loss, weight gain, or simply managing your weight. 

Basal Metabolic Rate, Explained

The Basal Metabolic Rate is also known as your body’s baseline metabolism.

Metabolism is how your body converts all the food and drinks that you consume into energy.

The calories in the food and drinks we eat are combined with oxygen. This, in turn, releases the energy needed by the body to function.

The basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories your body needs to maintain it’s most basic life-sustaining functions. It also accounts for about 60 to 70% of the calories that you burn each day. 

This is because it is the basal metabolic rate that uses up the energy that your body needs to keep your heart, kidneys, lungs, brain, and other organs operating to keep you alive.

It is responsible for your breathing, blood circulation, and maintenance of body temperature. 

Metabolism also refers to the chemical processes that goes on inside the body that allows for life and normal functions to process. For some people, their metabolism can be faster which helps them to lose weight faster because their body burns energy faster than most people while for others, their metabolism can be slower.

Metabolism takes place through two processes, the catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism refers to the breakdown of food components, while anabolism refers to the “building up” phase of metabolism. Both are necessary for balancing the body’s stored energy. 

Why does Basal Metabolic Rate matter? 

Our body never stops moving, even when we’re simply lying down or sleeping. This is why our body needs energy even when it is at rest. This is in order to perform vital functions such as breathing, tissue/organ repair, digestion, and circulation.

Since we are all different, knowing our basal metabolic rate can help us calculate the number of calories that we need to stay healthy.

Once we know how much energy we need to simply survive, it becomes easier to know how much food we need per day to sustain our lifestyle, workouts, as well as our actual work in the office or at home.  

Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR can help you lose, gain, or maintain your weight. When you know what your BMR is and how many calories you burn, you can find out how many to consume or take off depending on your fitness goals.

What determines your Basal Metabolic Rate? 

There are a number of different factors that can affect your basal metabolic rate such as: 

  • age
  • sex
  • weight
  • height
  • ethnicity
  • history of weight loss or gain
  • body composition
  • Genes
  • Diet

Amongst the 9 factors that affect BMR, it is diet and body composition that we can work on to improve basal metabolic rate. 

How to Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate

A quick and easy way for you to calculate your BMR, is by using health assessment tools. Check out our BMR calculator here.

Once you know your BMR, you will be able to figure out how you can change your body composition to change your basal metabolic rate.

Since there’s not much that can be done with your age, genes, ethnicity, sex, and height, you can simply focus on your weight to make changes to your body’s metabolism.  

Basal Metabolic Rate vs Resting Metabolic Rate 

A lot of people and sites use basal metabolic rate and resting metabolic rate synonymously. People think that it’s the same thing but there’s actually a difference.

BMR is about the energy used by the most basic functions of the body. These include breathing, circulation of blood, and regulation of temper.

RMR, on the other hand, includes energy needed for digestion and daily body movements such as standing up, sitting down, getting dressed, or lifting a glass to drink water. 

What’s important to remember is that the BMR and the RMR that you will be getting will just be an estimate. It can be difficult to get an actual number unless laboratory tests are done.

It is a good way to gauge the number of calories that your body uses up daily without the exercise, so that you can have a better idea how many calories you need to either lose or gain weight. 

Key Takeaways

If you are interested in making changes to your body composition or weight, the first step that you need to do is find out what your body’s basal metabolic rate is.

From there, you can gauge what you need to do in terms of increasing, decreasing, or simply maintaining the number of calories your body needs to gain, lose, or maintain weight. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated Aug 18, 2021

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