What is BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)? And why is EMS so good for it?

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Do you really understand BMR and how it relates to your metabolism?

The term metabolism is commonly referred to and known about, you will often hear someone say they have a fast metabolism, or a slow metabolism, but often people are unsure precisely what this means. 

In this post we cover one of the core elements of your metabolism, your BMR (basal metabolic rate). In what ways does your body burn energy and how can you measure and change your own metabolism. We will also touch on the new style of training, EMS (electric muscle stimulation), that works to burn energy during and after training sessions. 

What is BMR?

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories your body must expend for basic functioning. 

If you were to do nothing but lie in bed all day long (what a glorious thought!) your body will still need to burn energy, in the form of calories, to keep you alive. The bodily processes of circulating blood, breathing, processing nutrients and cell production, all require energy and your BMR tells you precisely how many calories your body needs for these functions. 

Why is BMR Important?

Knowledge is Power Right?

BMR differs from person to person and 2 people of the same weight and height can in fact have very very different BMR’s. 

For anyone who wants to lead a healthy life, achieve fitness goals, slim down or lose fat their BMR is one of the most important pieces of data they can have. 

Your body burns energy in three ways:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Digesting Food
  • Physical Activity. 

The largest burner of energy is your BMR, making up 60-80% of your caloric expenditure each day (See here for more info). Knowing your BMR can give you the power to make the best food choices for your body and your goals. 

Components of total energy expenditure for an average young adult woman and man. Source: Vox

Knowing your BMR also gives you the ability to make smart exercise choices.  Do you have a friend or work colleague who seems to just eat whatever they want and their body never changes?? These people may be secretly exercising for hours every day, or…they may be blessed with a high BMR and high digestive expenditure. 

For the rest of us mere mortals who have standard, or even low, BMR’s we do have the power to increase this. Your body contains a component called Active Tissue Mass (ATM) that is made up of all the metabolically active elements of your body – organs, tissues & muscles. The great news there is we can enhance our muscle mass through exercise which in turn can improve our BMR!

So how can you increase your BMR with EMS?

Naturally an increase in muscle mass, results in an increase to your active tissue mass (ATM) and use of electrical stimulation alongside exercise has been well documented (Volker Adams, Electromyostimulation to fight atrophy and to build muscle: facts and numbers) as a way to increase muscle mass in a short period of time. 

However, in addition to the increase in muscle mass EMS has been shown to significantly increase energy expenditure above basal metabolic rates both during a session and after, during recovery time. Research has found that the higher the level of stimulation the larger this effect is on metabolic rate (Miao-Ju Hsu,Shun-Hwa Wei and Ya-Ju Chang, Effect of Neuromuscular Electrical Muscle Stimulation on Energy Expenditure in Healthy Adults)

As a result the use of EMS in the long term increases muscle mass resulting in a higher BMR, but in the immediate term an EMS session can enhance your energy expenditure both during a session and during the recovery time that follows. Making EMS training a highly recommended intervention for weight loss. 

How to Calculate Your BMR

By far the most accurate way to calculate your BMR is to undergo a medical grade body composition scan. If you use the right device you will be able to obtain a very accurate reading of the metabolically active tissue in your body and BMR. Devices built for home use often focus on only 1-15 electrical frequencies and only measure a small proportion of the body, then guess the remainder based on your age, height and weight.

Devices such as the Sozo, by Impedimed or other medical grade devices, will be able to accurately measure body composition and provide you with a reputable BMR reading.

Devices such as these are not available in the home so we recommend looking up local health clinics, gyms or doctors who offer body composition scanning. It is recommended to scan with a device that measures over 200 frequencies and has both hand and foot plates.

Failing that if you need to measure at home there are some online calculators (e.g. VerywellFit or My Doctor) that can give you an indication of your BMR based on population data specific to your age, gender, height and weight. It is a good start, but like we said earlier, you can have 2 people the exact same age, height and weight with extremely different body compositions so naturally these measurements should be taken with a grain of salt.

Knowing how your body burns energy in different ways and keeping a close eye on your BMR can help you make informed and healthy choices to best suit your body. Your BMR makes up the largest component of your metabolism and maintaining a healthy body composition can aid in an improved and efficient metabolism. One such way to improve your BMR is through an exercise routine which increases muscle mass, and therefore, active tissue. If you are looking to increase your muscle mass and burn more energy, without heavy weights training or long gym sessions, EMS training might be the right training tool for you. Too see more abut the benefits of EMS and how it works click here.

Wanting to give EMS a try and get a medical grade body composition scan?

At Exolt EMS studio we specialise in EMS training and work closely with clients to monitor their body and work towards their goals. Check out our Intro pack to do a body composition scan and 2 x EMS sessions to learn more about how your BMR can be improved. 

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