13 Mar Why Should I Care if I’m Burning Calories Watching TV?
Are you burning calories watching TV? The answer is yes. Determining how many calories are burned requires a discussion about your resting metabolic rate or basal metabolic rate. These two terms are used interchangeably, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will stick with resting metabolic rate (RMR).
RMR is the energy or minimum calories required for one’s body to stay functional (i.e., alive) without any activity. One’s RMR is an indication of their metabolism; the higher the RMR, the higher the metabolism.
RMR is calculated or measured. The calculation of RMR can be made by one’s age, gender, height, and weight. RMR is also measured by a simple ten-minute breath test which is taken after a four-hour fast. This test measures the volume of CO2 expired to the volume of O2 consumed in a given period of time. This information is then used to calculate the fuel source being metabolized and then determine one’s RMR.
RMR is used to aid people who are new to exercise, those wanting to lose weight, or athletes trying to reach peak performance.
RMR: The Formula to Weight Loss?
It may be easier to understand the role ofRMR in weight loss by sharing an example:
A young lady would like to shed a few pounds and decides to get her RMR tested. It is determined that her RMR is 1,200 calories. This means she requires 1,200 calories daily to sustain bodily functions without exercise.
If she eats 2,000 calories a day and does not exercise, she will be in excess of 800 calories of her needed daily RMR. If she continues to eat 2,000 calories a day with no exercise, once she is in excess of 3,500 calories, she has gained a pound (3,500 calories is roughly equivalent to one pound of fat). The body is in no need of the added calories without exercise, so it stores it as fat.
This young lady then decides to decrease her daily calorie intake to 1,000 calories a day. She is now in a 200-calorie daily deficit from her RMR. Her body still needs 1,200 calories, so it will then go to her body fat for the additional 200 calories to make up the difference. Once she is in a 3,500 calorie deficit, a pound of fat is lost (this would take roughly 17 days if she continued her daily 200-calorie deficit).
I hope this clarifies the number game needed for weight loss. All diet programs work on one of two distinct principles: (1) take a supplement or prescription that increases your RMR, or (2) consume a very low daily calorie count to achieve a deficit of your RMR.
If an individual person is aware of their RMR, then he/she can monitor daily caloric intake by keeping a food diary and becoming educated on a diet that keeps them under their RMR. Slow, steady weight loss is safer and more likely to be maintained.
Starving Yourself Is Not an Option
Be wise—starving the body is not a plan. The body will go to fat AND muscle to feed its needs if daily calorie intake is excessively restricted. Muscle is what drives up your RMR, so if you lose muscle mass by starvation, your RMR will only decrease and weight gain then results. Muscle drives the burning of calories while fat merely stores it!
Weight training (bicep curls, pushups, chest press, etc.) builds up muscle mass, and this in turn will increase your RMR and aid in quicker weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, dancing, etc.) aids in weight loss by increasing calorie burn which is needed by the body during periods of increased heart rate and exertion.
The key to weight loss is knowing your RMR and making sure you stay under your RMR daily calorie need, thereby forcing your body to go to fat for the needed supplemental calories. If you have questions or would like to discuss your RMR more in depth, you can schedule an appointment – just call Continuum Internal Medicine at 817-617-8650.