RMR - The New Vital Sign
You hear it all the time: metabolism. Most people understand metabolism as how slowly or quickly their bodies burn calories. Unfortunately, they don't understand how important it is for successful weight management. Being overweight directly contributes to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other preventable diseases. Losing weight isn't just about looking better; it's a health issue. Metabolism is the body's process of converting food into energy to keep the body running and fuel daily activities. The body produces energy by breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins through the use of oxygen. Total metabolism, or total energy expenditure, represents the number of calories needed for maintaining body functions, daily activity (occupational and lifestyle), and the energy spent exercising.
Your resting metabolism, or resting metabolic rate (RMR), represents the number of calories your body burns to maintain vital body functions such as heart rate, brain function, and breathing. It's the number of calories a person would burn if awake, but resting, all day. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) typically represents up to 75% of a person's total metabolism. For people whose activity is limited or restricted, such as patients in hospitals, RMR can represent up to 100% of total metabolism.
Weight management is really a matter of simple arithmetic - balancing the number of calories in against the number of calories out. If you know how many calories you're burning, you'll know how many calories you can eat to meet your weight management goals.
Many people, including health professionals, estimate RMR using equations that can be inaccurate for an individual. Research has shown that under- or overestimating RMR can result in an error of almost 900 calories a day (1), which can add up to a pound a week. In addition, a person's metabolism can change over time as a result of weight loss, strength training, illness, and other factors.
RMR can be accurately determined by measuring the amount of oxygen a person consumes. Through this method, called indirect calorimetry, the amount of oxygen consumed represents the exact number of calories a person needs at rest each day. Once RMR is known, it's easy to determine the number of calories required to achieve a weight goal.
By accurately measuring RMR with each significant increase or decrease in weight (five pounds or 5% of body mass) and properly adjusting the number of calories eaten and burned through exercise, it's possible to reach your weight management goals.
Until now, it hasn't been practical or affordable to measure metabolism. But with HealtheTech's MedGem device, healthcare professionals and wellness advisors have the tools to quickly and accurately determine RMR.
1. Foster, G. et al. (1988). Resting Energy Expenditure, Body Composition, and Excess Weight in the Obese. Metabolism, 37(5), 467-472.