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Basal metabolic rate and how to speed it up-

Updated on July 24, 2012

We hear so often a common world- metabolism. We also hear that somebody has a high or low metabolism which makes one stay slim and other become overweight or obese. So it is important that we should have a sound basic knowledge of metabolism.

The basic metabolism can be defined as the minimum amount of energy required to maintain vital functions in a fasting individual, who is awake and resting in a comfortable environment. It is measured as basal metabolic rate (BMR). There is no set number on what the BMR should be. However, ideally it should be about 75%, which means that the body is burning about 75% of the calories at rest.

How to calculate BMR-

Step 1

Weigh yourself in kilograms. You also can weigh yourself in pounds and divide this value by 2.205 to obtain your weight in kilograms.

Step 2

Measure your height in centimeters. You also can measure yourself in inches and multiply this value by 2.54 to obtain your height in centimeters.

Step 3

Estimate your BMR if you're male. This is given by the equation RMR = (9.99 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (4.92 x age in years) + 5. This equation provides a man's BMR in calories per day.

Step 4

Estimate your BMR if you're female. This is given by the equation RMR = (9.99 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (4.92 x age in years) - 161. This equation provides a woman's BMR in calories per day.


An example calculation for a 55-year-old female weighing 59 kilograms who is 168 centimeters tall: RMR = (9.99 x w) + (6.25 x h) - (4.92 x a) - 161 = (9.99 x 59) + (6.25 x 168) - (4.92 x 55) - 161 = 1,749 calories per day.

Factors that influence BMR-

  • Genes- Our genes affect our BMR but in spite of our genetic predisposition, we can still control our BMR.
  • Gender- Men have higher BMR than women since men have more muscle mass than women.
  • Age- With increasing age, people have decreasing BMR. On an average, after the age of 20, the BMR will drop by 2% every 10 years.
  • Weight- Our weight will also affect the BMR. This will surprise many that a bigger person will have a higher rate because the body expends more energy moving around a heavy body than a lighter one.
  • BMI (body mass index)- The BMI will also determine the BMR. The lower the BMI is, higher the BMR and vice-versa.
  • Physical activity – The higher the level of physical activity, the higher is the BMR.
  • Muscle mass- The more muscle a person has, the higher the BMR since the muscle is more active metabolically.
  • Dieting- It is noteworthy that BMR can be reduced as much as 30% through extreme crash dieting.
  • Body temperature- With the rise of our body temperature, BMR also increases. A 1% increase of body temperature can elicit an increase of 10% in BMR.
  • Stress- In times of stress, the BMR increases due to the release of stress hormones such as Adrenaline and Epinephrine.

How to rev up metabolism-

This is a fact that metabolism plays a very important role in the management of obesity. That is why if the metabolism of an individual is revved up, it will result in a weight loss. The following will help to speed up the metabolism.

  • Stay hydrated- The body needs water to process calories. So even a mild dehydration will lead to a low metabolism. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
  • Maintain normal calcium level- A low blood calcium level will trigger the release of hormones which will force the body to hold onto fat cells. So it is significant to have adequate intake of calcium through diet. Vitamin-c promotes the absorption of calcium so enough amounts of vitamin-c rich foods should be taken.
  • Avoid drinks- It has been found that there is a dip in the metabolism after a night of drinking session. So it is medically prudent to avoid binge or heavy drinking.
  • Snack frequently- Eating frequently high fiber, high protein snacks like low fat cheese, fiber crackers, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt etc. is a surefire way to speed up metabolism.
  • De-stress- Chronic stress releases a hormone called cortisone which forces the body to hold onto fat.
  • Reduce diet soda consumption- Though they are low in calories, diet soda may actually have adverse effect on the metabolism. Water is a good option.
  • Take adequate sleep- Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night is crucial to a healthy metabolism.
  • Bask in sunshine- When a person spends long periods of time in dark environment, it stimulates the physiological changes in the body to store fat. So it is wise to soak up some sunshine.
  • Work out in cold- Doing a cardio work-out in cold can stimulate the brown fat to work up to maximum. Brown fat burns up white fat, which is considered bad fat.
  • Do weights bearing exercises- One pound of muscle burns 6 calories just to sustain itself in comparison to one pound of fat which burns 2 calories. So building more muscle will raise the BMR.
  • Take enough vitamins-B- This helps maintain a healthy metabolism so incorporate some nuts, seeds, beads, chicken, beef and fish in the diet.
  • Drink green and oolong tea- The polyphenols in green tea rev-up the metabolism. One can drink 4-5 cups daily to get the results.
  • Enjoy coffee- Taken in moderation, coffee may increase the metabolism for a short term.
  • Do interval training- High intensity of the interval-training burns more calories in a shorter time by revving up the metabolism.
  • Take spices- The chilies contain capsaicin which burns calories, the effect lasting for up to half an hour.
  • Eat ginger- The ginger not only aids digestion but also speeds up the metabolism.
  • Eat oily fish- Oily fish like tuna and salmon speed up the metabolism on account of their protein content and increase the release of hormone leptin which is responsible for controlling appetite. Oily fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Take enough proteins- The body burns more calories in digesting proteins than it does in digesting carbohydrates or fats.
  • Avoid cash diets- Eating fewer than 1000 calories a day will drop the metabolism. The weight loss with crash diets mostly comes from the break down of proteins which results in a decrease in muscle mass. This in turn will lower the metabolism of the body.

By following above observations, we can speed up our metabolism which will help us to lose weight efficiently and stay at our standard weight.




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