Understand your Basal Metabolic Rate to lose weight
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Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)


To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. The number of calories you need can be determined by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Click here to access our Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator, or read on to see the formula.


Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy expended while at rest, meaning you are doing virtually nothing (no exercise, no eating, etc.). BMR decreases with age and with the loss of lean body mass. Exercising and increased muscle mass can increase the BMR.

To accurately calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate clinical studies are required. However, a reasonably accurate estimate of your BMR can be calculated using a formula. There are many places you can go to have the math done for you. My favorite is this Basal Metabolic Rate calculator.

Using this BMR calculator a 40 year old, 150 pound 5 foot tall male has a BMR of 1,491 calories per day. A similar female has a BMR of 1,402 calories per day.

To lose weight, the female would need to consumer less than 1,402 calories per day, or increase her activity level, or both. Note that this calculation assume zero activity. If you assume light activity (moderate exercise 1 to 3 days per week), which is more realistic, the male has a "break-even" point of 2,049 calories per day, and a female would be 1,927 calories per day.

If you want to do the calculations yourself, here is the formula to calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Calculator:

Women: BMR = 655+ (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Take this result and multiply it by your activity level (known as the Harris-Benedict equation):

  • Sedentary: (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Light activity: (moderate exercise or sports 1 to 3 days per week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate activity: (moderate exercise or sports 3 to 5 days per week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active: (hard exercise or sports 6 to 7 days per week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active: (very hard exercise or sports and a physical job, activity or training 2 times per day): BMR x 1.9

If you prefer the metric system, here are the calculations:

Women: BMR = 655+ ( 9.6 x weight in kilos ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) - ( 4.7 x age in years)

Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) - ( 6.8 x age in years)

Take this result and multiply it by your activity level (see above):


Note: If you are overweight, this equation may overestimate the calories you require, so you should use a weight that is halfway between your current weight and your goal weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and want to weigh 150 pounds, use 175 pounds in this formula, and then adjust it as you lose weight.





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