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Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR); What Are You?

Apr 02, 2012


This article has been edited by a Registered Dietician whose name was requested to leave undisclosed. RD's are the head honchos when it comes to nutrition; their word trumps that of MDs in reference to nutrition. These specialists should be consulted when it comes to food intake and dietetics. They are the only experts who can prescribe a caloric intake of less than 1200 kcals. Be cautious of “nutritionists” because anyone with a 3 unit nutrition course can consider themselves a “nutritionist.” I am a huge proponent of practicing within your scope of expertise! That is why I search out the real professionals to make sure my words reflect accuracy.

The other day, I had a conversation with one of my students about this mystical number. He was surprised at the fact that he has been around the fitness industry for years and has never heard of it. I challenged him to ask some personal trainers what BMR was; the answers were mind-boggling. They included: “I'm not sure, I will have to look online” and my favorite, “that's not a very good equation because it doesn't take into consideration your muscle mass.” Way to go Mr. Trainer, you just defined the body mass index (BMI), but not the BMR!

Many trainers in the fitness industry commonly overlook the importance of the BMR and some do not even know what it means. Let me begin by defining what the BMR is and how it pertains to our clients and their goals. BMR is the base rate at which the human body consumes calories for basic metabolic functions such as thermoregulation, cell repair, pumping of blood and the proper functioning of the vital organs. BMR is determined chiefly by genetics and general physiological factors. The primary organ responsible for regulating metabolism is the hypothalamus. The majority of calculators seen online are estimated calculations utilizing the Harris-Benedict equation. The best method would be to hook up to a nifty sci-fi machine called an indirect calorimetry which will give a better estimation via gas measurements. Ok, Ok, Ok; no more esoteric nutritional jargon! Let me get to the point. Simply put, BMR is the rate at which your body consumes calories when at rest to maintain your current weight. Calories in vs. calories out are essentially the recipe for weight loss; so why aren't we discussing this number with our clients?

Much to my dismay, trainers would rather show a client a dangerous, ostentatious workout, rather than take the time to teach and educate their client about the science behind exercise. Granted, the majority of our clients would like to just Show Up (don't you love it how I market within my own articles!) and get trained, but there should be a time when the trainer teaches the client about exercise. Why does this not happen? In my opinion, there are a few reasons for this. (An example show on the right of an online calculator that generates your BMR, come back soon because we will have our own calculator ASAP!)

Reason number one: Trainers are branded via social media as being sculpted drill sergeants incapable of higher intelligence. Who is the first person that comes to mind when you think of a personal trainer? Your answer is probably Jillian Michaels, or my favorite, Bob aka BOBOOOO from the Biggest Loser. To some, they may seem extremely motivating, but way over the top (great 80's movie FYI). So we accept this brand and continue to proceed as vacuous individuals. Therefore; our goal and motto at Show Up Fitness is to teach first, train second. All of our students and trainers that have graduated understand how the human body functions, not just their own! This is why you need to be more proactive when you pick your next trainer. What are their credentials? Can they properly explain to you what BMR is and how many calories you are consuming? What about body fat testing and caliper administration?

Reason number two. The majority of trainers have a certificate, not an education. I just had a student go online and become a specialist for training clients with Parkinson's. How long did it take him to attain this certification? 20 minutes!! I'm not saying he didn't learn anything from this certification, but this is just another example of how unregulated our field is. Do doctors take a 20 minute exam and all of a sudden call themselves plastic surgeons? No way Jose! The fact that certified personal trainers are so unregulated makes me count down the minutes until the fitness licensing act passes and we are finally considered professionals (click here).

What is the difference between education and a certification? A certification establishes that an individual is minimally competent to work unsupervised in a given field or profession. This does not mean that an individual knows everything required to be considered an expert in a given field. Education teaches a foundation of knowledge, skills and measures the cognitive retention of the student. The majority of personal trainers purchase material online, study at home and take a test for their certification. Students who graduate from my course have a diploma with formal education in kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, basic nutrition, bio-energetics and over 200 hours of corrective form analysis in a gym like setting.

In the end, for proper weight loss you need to find a health caloric deficient from what your BMR is (suggested amounts range between 300 -500kcals per day). On days that you work out, you need to eat more. Yes I know, try swallowing that one! Our bodies need to build and when we workout, we need a greater caloric consumption to build because muscle is a higher metabolic tissue. The more muscle we build, the better our bodies will function and be able to perform daily activities. A proper gauge for weight loss is 1-2 lbs of fat PER WEEK; there are 3500 kcals in 1 lb of fat. Any weight loss greater than this will probably be water weight – remember our bodies consist of roughly 60 -70% water! Your weight loss journey will take time and realistic expectations are going to help you achieve your goals. None of this 5 to 10 lbs of weight loss a week; the Biggest Looser and related reality TV shows has really made our job difficult!!! Stop by for an appointment at Show Up Fitness in Dublin – we will properly educate you and get you on the right path for success. Keep on reading my wonderful articles, spread the love, keep smiling and as always shake and bake!!!

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