I feel that given the context of our current living environment, that there's no better time to educate everyone on all that goes into managing one's weight. Especially, because there will be ways that you can get better control on the subject in ways that you may have not known about.
Over the past month, I've seen a good amount of posts on social media from fitness professionals and the general public that I'll mince together and paraphrase below:
"There are more important things going on right now than focusing on working out and being concerned with what you eat."
I'm not sure why people are sharing this message, but for the fitness professionals I say shame on them. We teach clients all the time about how to manage stress and how to navigate their environment for solutions to stress eating, time management, etc. and now, during a time where stress has been higher than ever, we're just going to influence people by telling them that it's okay to do what they're inclined to do already, engage in behaviors that don't promote a healthy immune system (let alone all of the other physical and mental effects), and then set them down a path that pushes them down the rabbit hole even further so that when it's time to get back to "normal" that they're more discouraged and less confident than ever?
To be frank, I believe that thought process to be a hot piece of garbage.
I would go 100% in the opposite direction and say that now more than ever is the time to be focused on what you're eating and exercising (along with other things that one can do to build a more robust mental and physical health profile).
For those of you on the front lines working in the hospital, I can understand that this is much more difficult for you and I'm not talking to you in this post. I empathize with you and thank you for all that you're doing. I do encourage you to do your best in taking care of yourself during this extremely difficult time.
So, with all of that said, we're going to dive into the variables that effect your weight and how you can manage them. Today, we're going to focus only on BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
Simply put, your BMR is the total amount of calories that your body utilizes in order to perform vital functions, such as breathing.
BMR accounts for roughly 70% of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Your BMR is influenced by things like your height, weight, age, lean muscle tissue vs fat (adipose) tissue hormone levels, sleep, exercise, gender, stress, body temperature, menstruation, and pregnancy.
Behaviors like chronic undereating can negatively influence your BMR as well (hence why we don't recommend long-term, drastic reductions in calories).
Behaviors such as chronic undereating can lead to long-term, negative consequences with not only your BMR, but other areas of your health.
As your weight decreases, your BMR decreases which results in less calories needed for vital functions, but again, this is all influenced by other factors as well.
The final thing to note on BMR is that it is extremely difficult to get an exact measure of your BMR (lab testing required). We do have equations that we can implement to get a rough estimate of how many calories you would need in a day to maintain your weight though. Are they foolproof? Far from it. But, it's a great starting point in order to understand your dietary needs.
In the next part of this series, we will cover the thermic effect of food (TEF) and the role it plays in managing your body weight.