Updated: Feb 22, 2019
In the previous article, I mentioned about three things to increase your calorie expenditure with less time. Today will go into details on the how to boost the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
Is RMR same as BMR?
Instead of trying to explain the difference the between two myself (lazy lah), I'll just extract the following from from American Council on Exercise website (link):
"BMR is defined as Basal Metabolic Rate. BMR is synonymous with Basal Energy Expenditure or BEE. BMR measurements are typically taken in a darkened room upon waking after 8 hours of sleep, 12 hours of fasting to ensure that the digestive system is inactive, and with the subject resting in a reclined position. RMR can be defined as Resting Metabolic Rate. RMR is synonymous with Resting Energy Expenditure or REE. RMR measurements are typically taken under less restricted conditions than BMR and do not require that the subject spend the night sleeping in the test facility prior to testing.
So are RMR and BMR the same? Mostly, except for the fact that BMR is going to be a slightly more accurate reading".
With that, I'll treat them as same and use both interchangeably.
Note: if you want to find out your BMR and the amount of bodyfat in you easily, use our online calculator, which will also tell you how lean/fat you are.
What exactly does BMR do? (Important insight!)
BMR is by far the biggest component of your daily calorie requirements. It is for maintaining basal life processes within the organs of the body (see table) without physical activity. Ya I know it's hard to imagine that tasks we don't see actually accounts for 70% of our total energy expenditure at rest and the liver is the hardest working of all (therefore it is considered as the biggest fat burning organ. Drinkers, take note)!
What are the factors affecting RMR/BMR?
1. Lean tissues – the amount of muscle tissue you have on your body. Muscle requires more energy to function than fat. So the more muscle tissue you carry, the more energy your body needs just to exist. (While most forms of exercise will help boost muscle, resistance or strength training is most effective: for example lifting weights and exercises that work against the resistance of your body weight such as pushups, squats and lunges.)
2. Age – As we age, our calorie needs decrease. This is partly because of a loss of muscle tissue, and also because of hormonal and neurological changes. The reverse is also true. When babies and children go through periods of growth, their metabolism speeds up.
3. Body size – The more weight you carry, the faster your metabolism is likely running. The fact is that the extra weight causes your body to work harder just to sustain itself (because they usually have larger internal organs and fluid volume to maintain) at rest, so in most instances, the metabolism is always running a bit faster. That's one reason it's almost always easiest to lose weight at the start of a diet, and harder later on. When you are very overweight your metabolism is already so high that any small cut in calories will result in an immediate weight loss. Then, when you lose significant amounts of body fat and muscle, your body needs fewer calories to sustain itself. That helps explain why it's so easy to regain weight after you have worked to lose it.
4. Gender. As men are usually larger and have higher testosterone levels than women, they generally have faster metabolisms. Sorry ladies!
5. Genetics. This can also play a role in whether you have a slower or faster metabolism, and some genetic disorders can also affect your metabolism.
6. Physical activity. Physical exercise is not only responsible for burning calories, but also for increasing an individual's BMR due to the additional lean muscle mass that is created as a result of exercise. Lean muscle tissue is much more metabolically demanding than fat tissue, so an individual will burn more calories even while sleeping.
7. Hormonal factors. Hormonal imbalances caused by certain conditions, including hypo- and hyperthyroidism, can affect your metabolism. People with an under-active (hypo) thyroid gland (with dips in T3 and T4 hormones released by the gland) tend to be sluggish and overweight.
8. Weather or environmental temperature. Both the heat and cold raise the BMR. If we are too cold we shiver. Shivering burns up much energy from the constant contraction and relaxation of muscle cells trying to produce heat to maintain internal body temperature. Likewise, when we are hot we also burn more energy through the process of sweating to prevent its internal temperature from rising.
9. Drugs. Caffeine and nicotine can increase your metabolic rate, while medications including some antidepressants and anabolic steroids can contribute to weight gain regardless of what you eat.
10. Diet. Certain aspects of your diet can also affect metabolism. Dieting, fasting, or malnutrition all result in a lowering of BMR (as much as 30%). Your body slows down in order to adapt to the lower calorie intake so it can function with less fuel. And, it actually begins holding on to every calorie you eat and storing it as fat. This is why people who diet, usually gain back their weight once they start eating normally again. Others: if you don't have enough iodine for optimal thyroid function, it can also slow down your metabolism
11. Psychological state, stress. Stress hormones can raise the BMR. Stress and anxiety can cause a rapid increase in energy expenditure. When a person is in state of high alert, stress hormones circulate the blood and communicate to cells to break down energy stores ready to provide a greater supply of energy if needed.
Your ACTION PLAN: How to increase your own and tune up your sluggish RMR/BMR.
Based on the factors above, it is obvious many are beyond our control (gender, genetics, age etc). But you can do a few things to influence some of the factors to your advantage:
Improve your Body composition (the biggest boost of BMR you can do immediately).
This should be the main strategy you should focus on. Body composition is the difference between total lean mass compared to fat mass. It is an important factor which influence the BMR. The theory is that muscle burns more calories than fat does - even while at rest. The former is about 8 times more metabolically demanding than fat. Therefore, a greater percentage of lean body weight (muscles) results in a higher metabolism compared to individuals of the same weight with a lower percentage.
In short, more muscles = more you will burn calories at rest = leaner!
A point not to confuse is that a fatter person will burn almost the same amount of calories as leaner person with the same weight during exercise but the leaner person will burn more calories at rest.
While most forms of exercise will help boost muscle, resistance or strength training is most effective: for example lifting weights and/or exercises that work against the resistance of your own body weight such as pushups, squats and lunges. You can hit the gym or simply by doing the bodyweight exercises 2 to 3 times a week, non-consecutive days, and you should improve the bodycomposition favorably by building more tissues. There is a reason why my clients find themselves not gaining weight now (after undergoing through some training with us) when they returned from a short trip which they normally would have at least put on several kilograms.
Doing resistance training also has the added benefits of using up calories during and after the session, further boosting the total metabolism (see previous article).
How much of an increase in BMR can I expect with added muscle tissues?
Ans: 1 kg of muscle increases resting metabolic rate by about 100 calories per day. That's quite significant and it's easy to put on 2 to 5 kgs with some training. So if you gained 5 kgs, you potentially can afford 500 extra calories without gaining weight.
Keep your appointments with Z monster
Staying up late in and of itself directly affects the speed of your metabolism by affecting your hormones. In a study published, researchers studied the effects of chronic sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine functions on young men who were restricted to four hours of sleep a night for six nights. The results of the study showed sleep debt negatively impacts carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. Researchers concluded that even to eight hours of sleep a night for adults will help keep your metabolic rate at a healthy, steady pace.
So make sure you get 7-8 hours of deep sleep every single night.
Avoid Crash Diets
Crash diets -- those involving eating fewer than 1,200 (if you're a woman) or 1,800 (if you're a man) calories a day -- are bad for anyone hoping to quicken their metabolism. Although these diets may help you drop pounds, that comes at the expense of good nutrition. Plus, it backfires, since you can lose muscle, which in turn slows your metabolism. The final result is your body burns fewer calories and gains weight faster than before the diet.
Care, protect and optimise your organs, the liver especially (a longer term strategy)
Since RMR is used largely to fuel our organs, it makes sense to take proper care of them and not abuse them. TCM knew about this for centuries. If you think this is irrelevant to health, think again. Why we tend to develop all sorts of illnesses and diseases when we get older? It's because of impaired organs caused by various aging and cumulative factors. You can develop a metabolic disorder if certain organs (for instance, the pancreas or the liver) stop functioning properly.
While there's nothing you can do to enlarge your organs (larger organs = more calories burned), it makes perfect sense to keep them running optimally to ensure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Liver is the largest fat burning organ. Fat burning is not a priority for a liver under stress. Ever noticed why drinkers find it hard to lose weight despite they saying they don't eat a lot? Eating clean and healthy foods, avoidance of chemical and drugs, drink less alcohol, take good supplements etc. are some of the things that will help maintain your precious hardworking organs for a long long time.
A simple blood test can determine whether you have a thyroid disorder. If not, keep the gland healthy by consuming sufficient dietary iodine for your body’s T3 and T4 production. Sources of iodine include saltwater seafood, seaweed, cranberries, dairy, and eggs.
Drink Up (Water that is)
Your body needs water to process calories. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. Having said that, I don't know if there's further benefit if you drink 80 glasses a day so I won't recommend that.
Kopi Gao please
Taken in moderation, one of coffee's benefits may be a short-term rise in your metabolic rate by working on your Central Nervous System. Caffeine in coffee can help you feel less tired and increase your endurance while you exercise. It has the added benefit of increase the use of fat as fuel during exercise. Other compounds in coffee like theobromine, theophylline and chlorogenic acid help in weight loss in other ways (e.g. slow the absorption of carbohydrates). I don't recommend taking coffee before bedtime for obvious reason.
And Teh Kosong oso
Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple of hours. Research suggests that drinking 2 to 4 cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories during moderately intense exercise for a short time (3).
Want to boost your metabolic rate and lose weight with our unique weight loss personal training programs?
Durnin, JVGA (1981). "Basal metabolic rate in man". Report to FAO/ WHO/UNU (Rome: FAO).
Dulloo, Abdul G., et al. "Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans." The American journal of clinical nutrition 70.6 (1999): 1040-1045.
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