The human body is a sophisticated organism that, even today, with all modern diagnostic and imaging capability that permits real-time viewing of functional organs, still holds us enthralled.
Imagine how the physiologists of yesteryear would feel if resurrected for just one day, to view human anatomy through modern technology?
In their day, a body at rest was considered the same way as a body at work.
No one considered the energy expenditures of the body supine: indeed, the most learned of physicians may well have proclaimed that no calories were being burned at all.
That is, if they knew about calories, let alone how the body uses them.
Even at rest, our bodies need energy to keep fundamental systems going.
In fact, this inconspicuous calorie consumption comprises up to 70% of our daily energy use.
By contrast, physical activity lays claim to only 20% of our energy stores, with the remaining 10% attributed to our digestive system.
Knowing one's base metabolic rate – or BMR is indispensable: it permits a more or less exact calculation of how many calories our bodies need just to survive.
For athletes who wish to lose weight, or by contrast: want to gain muscle mass, knowing one's BMR is vital.
Let us now learn more about our bodies, our metabolism, and what we can do to become the best and fittest version of ourselves.
What is Base Metabolic Rate, Anyway?
You step on the scale with trepidation, BMI calculator in hand: any weight gain would be a horror!
Or maybe you have the opposite scenario?
You work out frantically and consume a dozen egg whites per day – no yolk, because they are high in cholesterol.
Each bout of strength training yields... not a millimeter added to your biceps, not a pound packed on, an certainly not a sculpted silhouette.
Both of these situations have the same root cause.
You can't know where you're going unless you know... where you're at.
If you have no idea how much food your body needs to survive, how do you know whether you are taking in less than needed (to lose weight), or exceeding that number, to gain mass?
And then, there is the matter of quality...
Just because you eat a lot doesn't mean you are eating well
It is true that you can pound food into your face... but is it the right food? With the right caloric value and the right compounds, that can convert readily into energy?
The base metabolic rate benchmark, with everything it represents – calories needed, calories burned, and the excess or deficit thereof; the value of a balanced meal versus empty calories, is crucial.
Keeping one's body mass stable and eating as much of anything you want must be most everyone's gustatory dream!
Confess: do your workmates talk about juicing and detoxing while looking over selections on the light menu at lunch?
Aren't they the very same ones that you know brunch expansively after a pious Sunday morning, in the pews or at the pool.
And there you are, feeling like you are packing on the pounds, no matter how skinny your meal selections are.
Maintaining your current weight, and even losing any pounds, is not commensurate with how many desserts and sweets you turn away from.
In fact, food fads and Draconian deprivation diets will go further to undermine your weight loss efforts than to facilitate them.
Likewise: cutting out meals will have the undesired effect of putting your body into starvation mode, effectively slowing down your metabolism.
A slow metabolism = fewer calories burned = more body fat
Skipping meals will virtually guarantee that you will not lose the weight you want in the time frame that you target.
Could a health fitness professional set you on the right track, metabolically speaking?
We can assure you that eating right, coupled with any sports program will indeed help boost your energy levels and assist in your weight loss efforts, but why take our word for it?
If you would calculate your own BMR, you could track your success by yourself!
Causes of Slow Metabolic Rate
You eat right, take the stairs to get to your office and take the dog on long walks at night.
You snack sensibly, avoid fizzy drinks and birthdays are so great because that is the only time you ever eat cake.
In short, you are a nutrition and fitness specialist's gold standard.
You don't feel ideal, though. You feel tired and heavy, and stepping on the scale reveals that you are in fact gaining, rather than maintaining your weight.
After taking variables such as age and gender into consideration, you would almost have to conclude that you are the victim of a slow metabolism.
This condition can be brought on by any of these factors, or a combination of them:
- too much cortisol, brought on by chronic stress
- Cushing's Disease can also overstimulate adrenal glands, producing excess cortisol.
- Too much insulin
- here too, stress can play a role in producing undesired levels
- a thyroid imbalance
- low estrogen / testosterone
- poor body composition
- a high ratio of fat to muscle
- natural aging
And, of course, the aforementioned starvation diets – the only factor contributing to your metabolic rate that you truly have control over.
What to do About a Slow Metabolism
If you are in fact the model citizen who eats right, jogs in the park and cycles to the grocer's, but your body is stubbornly refusing to stop amassing fat cells, you just may need a bit of help.
Unexplained weight gain is a key indicator that something is not as it should be.
Talk with Your Doctor
Before taking any drastic measures – engaging in extreme sports or booking Pilates classes at your local gym for every night of the week and twice on weekends, find out if there are any medical reasons for your bothersome biceps, belly and butt bulges.
In the meantime, stretching exercises will not cause any harm.
If you live under constant stress, you might consider yoga, tai chi or other martial arts as a way to work relaxation and meditation into your fitness plan.
You may find such exercise programs at health clubs near you, or you could engage a personal trainer online.
Submit to a Health Assessment
As long as you are consulting with your health care professional, ask for a fitness assessment.
Such an ordeal involves aerobic activity like running on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at various speeds.
The purpose is to measure cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory endurance.
If you can get a good cardio burn on at a clinic, you would have no trouble with cardio workouts to burn fat at the gym.
As we age, we are at risk for serious health issues, especially if we don't maintain proper body conditioning.
We are at greater risk than our elders, with our sedentary work followed by more sitting around in our leisure time.
Barring any serious health condition, prior to beginning any diet and fitness regimen, we should learn - not just what our BMR is but how our calorie intake complements or assails it.
Variations on BMR Calculations
First, we present the established theory that a body – any size, shape, age or gender can subsist on 1300 calories per day.
In practice, that is not a valid calorie intake benchmark to consider unless you have an exceedingly small musculoskeletal frame.
In fact, there are several equations you can use to calculate your base metabolic rate.
Some add a stress factor, but they all include these variables:
- gender (only male and female are considered)
If you are not of a mind to challenge your arithmetic talents, you can make use of an online BMR calculator.
Once you know your specific BMR, things get really simple...
Building a Health and Fitness Plan
Let's see where you are in your fitness career:
- been to see the doctor
- eliminated any serious health concerns (or are under treatment for them)
- taken a physical assessment test
- Calculated your base metabolic rate
The next step really depends on what your fitness goals are.
Weight Maintenance and Muscle Toning
1. To keep your current weight and tone your body overall, a fitness business expert would recommend resistance training.
Using bands, weights – dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells; assorted gym equipment and gravity, your fitness instructor would prescribe a routine that would help build muscular endurance while reinforcing connective tissues and joints.
2. If you want to become a bodybuilder, strength training is the regimen for you.
Rowers, ellipticals and pull up bars – you will find it easy to bulk up with this type of regimen.
Your training program could include isometrics, interval training or crossfit.
3. Proper nutrition – fuel is important at any phase of sports conditioning. and should be targeted to your desired results.
To that end, consulting with a registered dietitian or fitness nutrition specialist is always advisable.
Your personal trainer most likely works with such an expert – or has undergone certification programs himself, so that s/he is qualified to counsel you on food choices.
Calories and Special Populations
One third of all UK children, and a quarter of the overall population are obese.
Nationally, a whopping three-quarters of Britons are overweight!
Of those, we find that seniors, the economically disadvantaged and the disabled are the most likely to struggle with obesity.
In spite of programs targeted to senior fitness and even sports events exclusively for disabled athletes, Britons of every stripe continue live in the shadow of this health threat.
And if our children continue on this path, we can only expect that shadow to grow.
Youth fitness programs and group exercise classes might not be the only solution.
Of course, personal fitness training is paramount, but perhaps we should instruct our young on practical skills with regard to diet and nutrition.
Food gardening is an excellent way to get kids involved in nutrition: planting and caring for food stocks can forge a mind body connextion that could revolutionise they way they think about eating.
And it is a great way to get them up and moving: off the sofa and away from the gaming console, too!
As long as they are out of doors, how about squeezing some functional training in?
This type of physical exercise program provides an individualized focus on meaningful tasks, such as walking, climbing stairs and carrying (book bags, groceries and the like).
Functional training builds the muscles that support the body's core, otherwise known as the torso.
Motivating your child (or parent) to get moving can be difficult, but you should never offer food as an incentive to working out!
The goal of functional training is to build strength and flexibility, and to move on to the next level of health and wellness.
Don't defeat all of that hard work by rewarding the least bit of effort with a treat!
Once your little trainer (or senior trainer!) is motivated and ready to take the next step, place accountability for his caloric intake back on him.
It is at that point that you should share knowledge of how poor food choices affect one's body and well-being.
A fitness and nutrition education will serve your child, parent and you better than any amount of exercise science or interval training ever could.
As long as you know about calories, how they are used and how many you need, you could help others get fit.
We're talking about the work mates who drizzle dressing on their salads at lunch, naturally.