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Weight Management – Basal Metabolic Rate

OK so last week we went through the importance of using a calorie counter to track your daily food intake needs. We also touched on what Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is and its importance, but this week’s tip will look at this in a bit more detail.
So BMR is what your body needs, expressed as calories, to sustain your body weight during a period of rest. What you should have already done is used an online calculator to determine yours. 
If not do it online now. You will need your height, weight, age, and sex. Some calculators will also ask you to input your daily activity level. 
If you are predominantly sat at a desk most of the day you probably will input sedentary. If you have an active job input slightly active and so on.
Now what I don’t input here, but you may wish too, is my exercise amount. When I exercise I like to calculate the amount of calories I have burnt and then add this to my BMR in order to get my total calories burnt in any specific day. 
What an online calculator will ask, at the same point as inputting your activity level, is your exercise level. It may be for you to play around with both in order to see which works better; letting a calculator do it for you, or taking your BMR including your activity level but not your exercise calorie spend and calculating it yourself. For me, I do the latter.
OK so you now know what your total calorie use for the day, what does this mean in turns of losing weight? Well the general rule is a safe amount of weight to lose a week is around 1 pound or 0.5 kg. 
To do this you will need to eat 500 less calories per day than you actually need. Doing this over the course of a week should leave you lighter!
There is one important rule to follow, particularly if you exercise as well as diet: do not drop more than 500 calories per day. I found out the hard way, but you should learn from my mistakes. 
Firstly, if you exercise and don’t eat enough your body will cannibalize muscle instead of fat. Your body does this when you enter what is known as a fasting state. 
When you don’t eat enough, or exercise too much again without eating enough, your body panics believing you are unable to eat enough food (dating back to when humans weren’t able to find or hunt enough food for prolonged periods). 
The bodies go to response is to reduce the amount of muscle you eat thus meaning you need less calories per day to power the muscle. Therefore, when you don’t eat enough all you are doing is breaking down lean weight instead of fat. 
There is a further issue with the bodies fasting state: once you do eat it is stored as fat instead of glycogen in your muscles (glycogen being the bodies preferred source of fuel and what all food is converted too), again your body does this because it believes you aren’t going to eat again (or enough) for a prolonged period of time and fat will be then available for your body to use as fuel at a later point.
As if your body cannibalizing itself wasn’t bad enough there is one final problem with eating too little… It makes you hungry! In fact people who eat too little or starve themselves are much more likely to crack and binge eat. Even at normal meal times you are likely to eat much larger portions. So eat right to lose weight!
Finally, you don’t need to hit that magic 500 every day. All you have to do is ensure you remain in a calorie deficit state (safely, as mentioned above) to continue to lose weight. 
If you are finding that you still aren’t losing weight I suggest you take another look at what you are logging on your calorie counter. 
The most likely reason you aren’t losing weight is probably because you are understating on certain foods – particularly pay attention to portion size. 
I once spent months wondering why I was struggling to lose weight and then discovered that the protein shake I consumed before the gym was in fact double the calories that I thought (1200 instead of 600) a massive mistake on my part, and sure enough once I adjusted the mixture amounts I began to lose weight again.
Next week’s topic covers the fact that not all calories are equal. For example, 200 calories of vegetables is not the same as 200 calories of donuts, sounds obvious but getting it right will help!
Thanks again,
Pav Bryan – Owner & Coach
Pav Bryan Cycling Coach
Advanced Wattbike Testing & Coaching
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Weight Management – Basal Metabolic Rate

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