Introduction to Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Testing and Practical Tips for Weight Management
If you are interested in (or have been struggling with) weight loss efforts, you may benefit from having your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) tested. RMR is the baseline amount of calories you burn at rest, and varies between individuals. It accounts for 60-75 percent of your total calories burned each day.
The RMR measurement is simple. After fasting for 4 hours, you will be directed to sit quietly in a chair and breathe through a tube attached to a metabolic device called the Resting Metabolic Rate machine for 10 minutes. This device measures the amount of oxygen you are consuming which allows determination of the number of calories you are burning. After the measurement, you will know your individual RMR.
In addition to your RMR, you burn calories each day through activities of daily living, work, and exercise. RMR is unique to every individual, and it can be vastly different in people who are the same age, gender, height and weight – the normal predictors of metabolic rate.
Knowing your RMR can help you determine the optimal amount of calories to consume each day to further your weight loss goals.
Once you have your RMR tested you can use the unique-to-you numbers to manage your weight. Tips for safely losing weight (and keeping it off) include:
- Add an activity factor. Multiply your RMR by a reasonable activity factor to determine your daily calorie needs:
- Sedentary (little or no exercise) = 1.2
- Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) = 1.375
- Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) = 1.550
- Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) = 1.725
- Extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job) = 1.900
- Now that you know how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, you can calculate a reasonable calorie deficit. Many people like to subtract 500 from the maintenance calories, because it translates to ~3,500 calories/week or ~1 lb. of weight loss/week.
- This number will be your weight-loss calorie goal:
- Research has shown that most adults cannot get all the vitamins and minerals needed by eating less than 1200 calories per day. That means your weight-loss goal should be (at minimum) 1200 calories per day or more.
- If your weight-loss calorie goal is below your RMR, you should go ahead and use your RMR. Eating less than your RMR over a period of time may lower your resting metabolic rate, making it more difficult to lose weight.
- Have your RMR tested periodically (e.g., once per year, after major weight-loss or gain, before or after starting a new exercise or strength-training program, milestone birthdays)
- Knowing changes in your RMR throughout the lifecycle can help you through weight plateau’s or enhance exercise goals, as well as aid long-term weight-maintenance.
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