When you use apps like Noom or MyFitnessPal, you’ll enter your height, age, sex, and weight then it will spit out a certain number of calories that you should consume per day. What they are trying to calculate is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). If weight loss or gain is truly your goal, then your BMR is the most basic number you truly need to understand. While these apps and calculators use a basic BMR formula to calculate it, just like BMI, this formula is pretty inaccurate for many but especially Black Women. So let’s break it down.
What is Basal Metabolic Rate?
Your BMR is the total calorie expenditure needed for your body to perform its basic functions at rest. It’s what we think of when we think of metabolism. These functions include breathing, growing and repairing cells, adjusting hormone levels and more. Our organs are muscles and they need calories to do what they do. Speaking of muscle, our bodies’ muscles gobble up calories to maintain their strength. So those with more muscles tend to need more calories to keep those muscles. Black women tend to have more muscle mass which causes not only a higher BMI but also a lower BMR calculation in these apps.
How can you calculate your basal metabolic rate?
Many fitness and nutrition apps use your height, age, sex, and weight inputs to calculate your BMR. For instance, when I enter my details into a BMR calculator, It says that my BMR is 1,447 calories. What these calculators don’t take into account is body composition which is actually the biggest indicator of changes to your BMR. Using the InBody 570, it’s able to factor in my lean muscle mass compared to fat mass giving me a more accurate BMR of 1576.
Why is knowing your basal metabolic rate important for weight control?
Your basal metabolic rate is what helps you keep your lean mass functioning. It’s important not to consume less than this number, especially long-term, or you can end up with muscle loss as your body tries to adjust to less calories, or things more serious like hormone imbalances, and impact on organ function. Your BMR is really your most basic needs. It doesn’t include eating, going to the bathroom and those basic daily functions that we all have to do.
Every single activity we do is additional calories that we can use to create a calorie deficit or surplus. That Strong class you take 3 days a week, that walk to work you do each day, feeding the kids each day all go towards your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) which is your BMR plus calories of all those extra activities. That range between your BMR and those extra burned calories from activities gives you a more accurate window of calories to play with. Eating more than your BMR but less than your TDEE gives you a better opportunity for healthy weight loss long-term.
I use MyFitnessPal regularly, to track my eating when I have goals I want to hit. But I’m suited up with my accurate BMR information to create a healthy plan that works for my body. Find out yours with an InBody session.