Basal Metabolic Rate and Weight Loss: Maximizing Your Metabolism

weight loss tips to maximize your metabolism

The New Year is a time for self-improvement, new goals, and new beginnings. As we look toward 2024, many of us use New Year’s Resolutions to vocalize our goals for the coming year. A common resolution is to improve health or lose weight. In fact, losing weight is the third most common resolution for 2024. In order to help achieve this goal, let’s start the year with a blog that explains different aspects of weight loss in order to help you crush your 2024 goals.  

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a term that is often thrown around in the world of weight loss and metabolism. But what exactly is BMR and how does it affect our weight loss journey? BMR refers to the minimum amount of energy our bodies need to function at rest. This energy is primarily used for basic bodily functions such as breathing, blood circulation, and cell growth and repair. In simple terms, BMR is the number of calories we burn while at rest.

Understanding the role of BMR in weight loss is essential for anyone looking to achieve their fitness goals. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between basal metabolic rate and weight loss, and how you can increase your BMR to maximize your metabolism and reach your weight loss goals.

Understanding the Concept of Basal Metabolic Rate and Metabolism 

basal metabolic rate weight loss

Let's unravel the mystery of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and how it influences your metabolism. Picture this - even while you're lounging on the couch, your body is working hard, burning calories to maintain essential life-sustaining functions like breathing, circulating blood, regulating body temperature, and growing and repairing cells. That energy expenditure when you're at total rest is your BMR, your body's internal engine.

Think of metabolism as your body's power plant, transforming the fuel you provide (the food and drink you consume) into the energy you need for every movement and function.  So, what does your BMR have to do with your metabolism? Well, for most people, your BMR is actually the biggest contributor to your total metabolic rate, accounting for around 60% to 75% of all the calories you burn in a day. Consequently, by boosting your BMR, you can significantly increase your overall metabolism and burn more calories - even while you're resting. Now, doesn't that sound like a weight loss strategy worth exploring? Let's dive deeper into how you can stoke the fires of your metabolism by increasing your BMR.

The Role of Exercise in Boosting Basal Metabolic Rate 

exercise and metabolic rate

Who knew that the secret to supercharging your BMR lies in your workout routine? Yes, that's right! One of the most powerful tools you have for increasing your BMR is exercise. Both aerobic activities like cycling or swimming and strength training exercises have proven effective in revving up your BMR.

Strength training stands out for its special benefit – it aids in muscle building. Why is that so crucial, you may ask? Well, muscle tissues are the calorie-burning superstars of your body. They torch more calories than fat tissues – even while you are at rest. Plus, the more muscle you have, the greater number of muscle contractions you have during a workout.  The greater the muscle contractions, the more glucose you can uptake during exercise. As an added benefit, this additional muscle mass increases your insulin sensitivity after physical activity.  So, by developing more muscle mass through strength training, you can elevate your BMR and transform your body into a round-the-clock fat-burning machine.

Aerobic exercises, on the other hand, are not just great for your heart but also for your BMR. They elevate your metabolic rate not only during the workout but also for hours after your workout concludes.

Now, imagine combining both types of exercise in your fitness regimen. You'd be hitting the BMR jackpot! So, gear up and embrace the power of exercise to boost your BMR. Whether it's pumping iron or pounding the pavement, make sure you're including both strength and aerobic exercises to maximize your metabolic rate. Shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Remember, it's not just about burning calories while you exercise, but also enhancing your body's ability to burn calories when it's at rest. So, let's get moving and make your workout count in more ways than one!

Nutritional Strategies to Maximize Your Basal Metabolic Rate 


Your plate has a powerful say in the performance of your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Indeed, the food choices you make can either boost your BMR or put a damper on it. One food group that does wonders for your BMR is protein. Your body works harder, and burns more calories to digest protein compared to fats or carbohydrates. This means that by consuming protein-rich foods, you're already stoking the fires of your metabolism, making your body a more efficient calorie-burning machine.

Our fat-free mass is one of the most important factors that impact our basal metabolic rate. Thus, maintaining a healthy body composition is crucial. Stabilizing our blood sugar is one great way to help maintain a healthy weight.  When we reduce dramatic swings in blood sugar we improve our energy levels and reduce food cravings. Over time, regulating our blood sugar can significantly impact our metabolic health and body composition. In general, foods higher in protein and low in simple carbohydrates (e.g, not candy, starchy, or heavily processed foods) will help to avoid dramatic swings in blood sugar. If you are about to eat a meal higher in simple carbohydrates or are in an environment where you are not able to eat as healthy as you would like, drink 1/3 of a can of GOOD IDEA before your meal and finish it with your meal.  This has been shown in multiple studies to reduce post-meal blood sugar by an average of 25%.

The volume of food we put on our plate is another important nutritional strategy worth implementing. It's vital to maintain portion control and ensure the meals are well-balanced with a mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Practicing portion control can help us to avoid overeating and consuming unnecessary calories.

Let's not forget about hydration. Drinking enough water is crucial for a healthy metabolism. Water is involved in numerous metabolic processes and staying well-hydrated can ensure these processes function optimally, thus potentially increasing your BMR.

Importance of Rest and Recovery in Increasing Basal Metabolic Rate 

rest and recovery for weight loss

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, sleep and recovery can often take a back seat. Yet, they are essential pieces of the BMR puzzle. Did you know that sleep-deprivation can negatively impact your metabolism, and inadvertently, your weight loss efforts? Skimping on sleep can lower your BMR and lead to weight gain.

Striving for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night is not just an old wives' tale. It's a science-backed recommendation to keep your metabolism humming along at a healthy pace. As you slip into your slumber, your body is hard at work repairing cells, releasing growth hormones, and performing other crucial metabolic processes. Each of these activities is fueled by your BMR. So, ensuring you catch enough Z's is paramount to maintaining and even boosting your BMR.

But it's not just about the quantity of sleep, quality matters too. Strive for uninterrupted, deep sleep. Achieving a night of rest with the appropriate potion of each sleep cycle is key, since each sleep stage plays a role in your body's metabolic processes.

Additionally, recovery periods during the day, such as taking breaks to relax or meditate, can also have a positive impact on your metabolism. They offer your body a chance to destress and rebalance, which can help maintain a healthy BMR.

Therefore, if boosting your BMR and achieving weight loss are your goals, make sure to respect your body's need for rest and recovery. Sleep well and recover regularly - your metabolism will thank you for it!

Lifestyle Modifications for a Healthy Basal Metabolic Rate 

lifestyle changes for weight loss

Adapting your lifestyle can be a game-changer in your mission to ramp up your BMR. Simple tweaks and positive habits can go a long way in keeping your metabolism healthy and active.

First and foremost, stay active! The majority of Americans don’t meet the weekly recommended dose of physical activity (150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity). Start small by incorporating simple steps like taking the stairs or parking further away from a building. Grab a buddy to help keep you accountable and make exercise fun by taking group glasses or participating in at-home fitness challenge. Exercise provides some of the largest benefits per investment of time, which makes it a vital part of improving basal metabolic rate.

Stay well-hydrated! Remember, your body relies on water for countless metabolic processes. Ensuring you're sipping on water, or GOOD IDEA, throughout the day helps keep these processes running smoothly and efficiently.

Next, consider your alcohol consumption. While an occasional glass of wine isn't necessarily harmful, regular or heavy drinking can slow down your metabolic rate and disrupt your glucose metabolism. It's all about moderation.

Another potential obstacle to a healthy BMR is smoking. If you're a smoker, consider this a compelling reason to quit. Kicking the habit can remove a major roadblock from your metabolic highway.

Don't overlook the role of stress in your metabolic health either. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your metabolism, slowing it down and causing weight gain. Find stress-busting techniques that work for you - be it yoga, meditation, reading, or a brisk walk.

Remember, nurturing a healthy BMR isn't about drastic changes or quick fixes. It's about making consistent, positive choices each day that support your metabolic health. Each small step in the right direction can help you build momentum towards a healthier, more active metabolism.

Author: Dr. Colleen Gulick