I am a high school Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, and one of the courses I teach is Nutrition. It is one of my favorite courses to teach because I have a personal interest in it, but also because I think basic nutrition is a topic EVERYONE should be informed about. One of the topics that we discussed this week has really resonated with me… Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
I learned what this was when I was in college as a Health Education major, but I still did not really understand fully what it meant to me. Through my many weight loss phases, I would eat 1200-1400 calories a day. I only understood that I needed to burn more calories than I took in. Even after my first pregnancy I used the features in MyFitnessPal to calculate how many calories I needed to intake in order to lose weight. This was 1200 calories!! It was only after I hit a plateau and was sick of depriving myself that I sought for a better understanding of energy balance.
My personal basal metabolic rate based on my age, height and weight is approximately 1500-1600 calories. There are many online calculators that will determine your BMR for you when you enter your information (so google it). What they don’t tell you is that you should NEVER eat below that number. Your BMR is a base number that shows your energy needs (calories) for just staying alive, not being active in any way. So, from my BMR calculation and MyFitnessPal telling me to eat 1200 calories, I now know I was eating well below my needs.
There are many legitimate resources that will help the average person understand this concept much better (see Eat More 2 Weigh Less). However, far too many people (especially women) are depriving themselves to achieve an unattainable goal. My goal as a Nutrition teacher but also in my future goal of being a Certified Personal Trainer is to help use this information in a helpful and healthful way. I want to help people understand what BMR is and how to use it along with their total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) to determine calorie needs for whatever goals they have.
What other nutrition concepts are confusing??