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Resting Metabolic Rate & Weight Loss

By Barrett Barlowe ; Updated July 18, 2017

Losing weight is not easy and resting metabolic rate is easy to blame. Products abound that claim to boost the body’s natural ability to burn calories, but in reality, resting metabolic rate is largely immutable. Rather than trying to fight genetics with unproven powders and drinks, following a sensible regimen of muscle building, fat burning exercise and modest calorie reduction yields the best results.


Metabolism is the amount of energy necessary to maintain bodily functions, such as circulation, respiration, cellular reproduction and tissue repair. Those with weight loss goals seek to boost their metabolic rates. RMR measures the amount of energy a person uses just resting all day. Basal metabolic rate is similar, but specifically measures your metabolic rate after a full night's rest, giving a highly accurate measure of your metabolism. The number of calories a person burns just lounging on a couch accounts for approximately 70 percent of all the calories needed per day. And to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than your body shows its burning with these measurements.


Different factors influence an individual's resting metabolic rate. Typically, genetic makeup plays a key role. Males tend to have higher resting metabolic rates than females. This disparity is due to the higher muscle to body fat ratio in males. Muscle burns more calories than fat, thus boosting metabolic rate. Larger people have higher resting energy requirements than smaller lighter people. As people age, their metabolism slows down, and with it the daily calories burned to sustain basic bodily functions. Those with more muscle burn more fat, because lean muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, losing fat and building lean muscle does increase the metabolic rate slightly.


Formulas to determine resting metabolic rate involve simple math, but many websites offer calculators to help with the figures. A 25-year-old 200 lb male needs 1,923 calories per day, whereas a 50-year-old man with the same height and weight needs only 1,773 calories per day. A 25-year-old woman, who is 5' 5" and weighs 125 lbs, has a RMR requiring 1,308 calories per day. A 55-year-old woman with the same height and weight needs only 1,158 calories per day to maintain basic body functions.

Activity Factor

Weight gain results from excess calories consumed, so for those people with slower metabolic rates, getting active helps weight loss. Adding extra activity every day increases the number of calories per day a person needs, and boosts health and energy. According to the Baylor College of Medicine website, a 5' 5" 25-year-old 125 lb woman who exercises at least one hour per day burns approximately 467 more calories per day than does a sedentary woman of the same age, weight and height. Over time, those extra calories burned add up to weight loss.


Commercially available metabolism boosters do not work and might be dangerous. There are no federal guidelines in place requiring manufacturers to prove the efficacy or the safety of their products. Supplying the body with nutritious foods and building lean muscle with weight-resistance exercise helps overall health and weight loss.

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