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April 24, 2006

Burning Calories While you Sleep

Sleepingbear This is a scientific fact, no fiction at all! In my particular case, I burn 2,309 Calories a day without exercising at all! Isn’t that great? Well, yes it is, but there is more than that “extra bonus” you get in life. Read on:

Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the minimum caloric requirement needed to sustain life in a resting individual. It can be looked at as being the amount of energy (measured in calories) expended by the body to remain in bed asleep all day!

BMR can be responsible for burning up to 70% of the total calories expended, but this figure varies due to different factors. Calories are burned by bodily processes such as respiration, the pumping of blood around the body and maintenance of body temperature. Obviously the body will burn more calories on top of those burned due to BMR.

Main Factors Affecting BMR

As we grow older, our BMR will steadily decrease. In youth, BMR is higher, and as we age we have less lean body mass - slowing the BMR. The more lean tissue on the body, the higher the BMR, the more fatty body tissue, the lower the BMR. (This does mean that an individual can raise their basal metabolic rate by undertaking regular exercise). A person's height is also a factor, a tall thin person will have a higher BMR than a shorter, fatter person. BMR will increase in pregnant women.

Short Term Factors Affecting BMR

Illnesses such as a fever, high levels of stress hormones in the body and either an increase or decrease in the environmental temperature will result in an increase in BMR. Fasting, starving or malnutrition all result in a lowering of BMR. This lowering of BMR can be one side effect of following a diet and nothing else. Solely dieting , i.e. reducing the amount of calories the body takes on, will not be as affective as dieting and increased exercise. The negative effect of dieting on BMR can be offset with a positive effect from increased exercise.

The Math

The BMR formula uses the variables of height, weight, age and gender to calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is more accurate than calculating calorie needs based on body weight alone. The only factor it omits is lean body mass and thus the ratio of muscle-to-fat a body has. Remember, leaner bodies need more calories than less leaner ones. Therefore, this equation will be very accurate in all but the very muscular (will underestimate calorie needs) and the very fat (will over-estimate calorie needs).

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

For an interactive Online BMR Calculator, click here.

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