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What is BMR?

what is BMR

What is BMR? You have probably heard of “BMR” but what exactly is it and how does it relate to weight loss?

BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. BMR is the minimum energy that your body uses to sustain basic essential bodily functions such as breathing, keeping your heart and lungs moving, and your brain and digestion working. In other words, BMR is the quantity of energy expended by humans when they are at rest and not moving.

BMR is measured in calories, and usually refers to the daily amount of calories burned by your body for essential bodily functions.

What Is BMR? Connection Between BMR and Weight Loss

BMR is important for weight loss because BMR is basically referring to your metabolism. The higher your BMR (=metabolism), the more calories you burn by just being alive. Now who wouldn’t want that?

BMR for each person differs because so many things can affect a person’s metabolism. That is why you may see two people who look similar from the outside (gender, height, weight) having different metabolisms. One of them may eat 50% more but never gain weight.

Home Dieting Essentials

Although numerous factors affect a person’s metabolism, there is a commonly used BMR formula which has been used to “guesstimate” a person’s BMR based on gender, weight, height and age. It is called the Harris-Benedict Equation. It is a good starting point and will give you a general idea of your BMR.

Click here to calculate your BMR based on the Harris-Benedict Equation

In this formula, you are assumed to have higher metabolism if you are:

  • Male
  • Younger
  • Weigh more
  • Taller

Other Factors that Affect BMR/Metabolism

As mentioned earlier, so many things can affect a person’s metabolism, besides their gender, age, weight and height.


Muscle mass is one major factor that affects how many calories you burn per day without doing anything. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR. This is one of the reasons why under the Harris-Benedict BMR formula, men and younger people are assumed to have higher BMR; it is because they typically have higher muscle mass. 

Metabolism-boosting foods

Certain foods have the ability to boost your metabolism, and thus your BMR. Good examples are coconut oil, green tea, and cayenne pepper.


Going on extended, extremely low calorie diets can slow down your metabolism, by forcing your body to enter starvation mode. For this reason, it is recommended that women consume at least 1200 calories a day, and men consume at least 1500 calories a day. 


Extended periods of stress can lower your metabolism, by providing less blood flow to your digestive system.

You Are Burning More Than Your BMR

Since BMR is the amount of daily calories you need to sustain your essential bodily functions, unless you are bedbound, in reality you are burning more calories than BMR on a daily basis. The amount of calories you are burning beyond your BMR depends mainly on your activity level.

This is called the Active Metabolic Rate (AMR). Your AMR is your BMR plus the calories you need to support your activities throughout the day like walking, jogging, reading, or cooking. AMR is the actual TOTAL calories you burn per day.

To calculate AMR, simply multiply BMR by:

  • 1.2 if you are sedentary (little or no exercise)
  • 1.375 if you are lightly active (light exercise/work 1-3 days per week)
  • 1.55 if you are moderately active (moderate exercise/work 3-5 days per week)
  • 1.725 if you are very active (hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week)
  • 1.9 if you are extra active (very hard exercise/work 6-7 days a week)

In order to lose weight, you need to consume less than your AMR.

Work On Increasing Your BMR

Increasing your BMR (=metabolism) is a smart way of losing/maintaining weight, simply because you can reap the benefits of increased metabolism over and over again every day without doing anything.

For example, once you’ve added the extra pounds of muscle, you will be burning more calories each day just by being alive.

For this reason, improving metabolism should be an added goal of any diet plan!