Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook
Print this pageEMail this page

Obesity and Weight Management

Know Your Number (RMR) to Lose Weight

Watch Video

To know your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is to know how many calories you can eat in a day to maintain, lose or gain weight. The trick is finding the accurate number.

A quick search on the Internet is likely to turn up a number of sites that offer a calculation of a browser's resting metabolic rate based on age, height, weight and gender. But a key ingredient is missing: the actual amount of energy your body uses to get through the day - which is what metabolism measures - and which can vary widely in people with the same outward physical characteristics.

Newly available devices cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now are in use at select fitness centers, and they can accurately gauge the amount of energy a body needs just to function each day, which translates into an indicator of the number of calories a body requires.

People need a starting point to know what the real numbers are so they can adequately decrease their intake of calories to achieve weight loss, if that's their goal. The rate and calorie guidelines are determined for a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle and can be adjusted according to an individual's activity level.

To accurately determine a person's resting metabolic rate - and the accompanying daily caloric needs - a reading must be taken of the amount of oxygen he or she uses while the body is at rest.

Almost everyone is surprised by their resting metabolic rate number. Even active people often find they should be eating fewer calories if they want to lose or maintain their weight. For example, marathon runners sometimes assume they can eat hundreds more calories than they need because of the intensity of their exercise. Determining this number is the only way to know for sure.

Given that two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese, many individuals would likely benefit from accurately calculating their resting metabolic rate and then tracking their calorie intake accordingly. It's making a commitment to nutrition management that will pay off in the long run.

We may be fooling ourselves without knowing our resting metabolic rate. Knowing these numbers would mean people would be less likely to give up on their weight-loss effort.

It is also important to feed the body in a balanced and responsible way. You need more than calories - you need to give your body the nutrients it needs. And you can't do that on a fad diet.

To locate a Nutrition Professional in your area, please visit the American Dietetic Association's web site below:

Nationwide Nutrition Network

This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center Media Relations Office, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

For more information:

Go to the Obesity and Weight Management health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Jan 27, 2004

Shirley A Kindrick, PhD Shirley A Kindrick, PhD
Team Leader of Comprehensive Weight Management
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University