Health Biomarkers Series: Basal Metabolic Rate

Posted on 8/22/2013 by Dr. Adrian den Boer
Categories: Health biomarker, metabolism
Another important biomarker of health that has a significant impact on the quality of health and life is the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
BMR is the amount of calories burned at rest in a 24-hour period. Depending on body size, I look for a range of 1500 – 2200 calories burned at rest in 24 hours. DBC measures this very accurately with our Bio-Impedance Analysis machine.
It is mostly affected by adrenal function, thyroid function, and active metabolic tissue; especially muscle! Therefore, anything above or below this range is suspect, and I immediately investigate those three main factors.
Note: The trend of numbers is just as important, if not more important, than the number itself. When we do repeat testing and there is a consistent decrease in BMR, this demands an investigation as well.
Symptoms of a low thyroid manifest in low energy, dry skin, constipation, brain fog, low energy, and thinning of hair.
Adrenal malfunction has a lot of overlaps since the adrenals and thyroid communicate so closely. In addition, see “tired but wired” symptoms, anxiety episodes, hormonal changes, insomnia, sugar dis-regulation, fat gain around the abdomen, and an inability to handle stress appropriately.
When the thyroid and adrenal system get burned out and BMR declines below 1500, the impact on life is huge.
Function in all categories becomes compromised. You simply do not have enough energy to do everyday basic functions, including basic maintenance of health!
On the flip side, excessive metabolic rate can also be a problem. Overstimulation of thyroid and adrenal function is key here, and can happen due to medications like prednisone, caffeine, and high stress situations.
Ways to Improve Your BMR
1) Iodine Supplementation
To improve BMR, one of easiest ways is to properly feed your adrenals and thyroid by ensuring enough iodine. If you live in the Midwest, iodine insufficiency is extremely common due to depleted soil.
Iodine supplementation is often extremely helpful.
2) Manage Stress and Take Breaks
The adrenals are very responsive to lifestyle changes, too. Stress management, improving your response to stress, getting enough rest, taking breaks throughout the day, and knowing when to turn life off vs. on are all helpful.
3) Exercise!
Proper exercise is very helpful in improving BMR as well!
I was studying an interview recently on Sir Richard Branson, a businessman who runs hundreds of successful businesses. The interviewers asked him, “What is your key to be able to maintain enough energy, organization, and general life skills to be able to keep running your businesses so successfully?”
He paused for a few moments. He then replied, “I workout.”
In other words, exercise gives him the physical energy and emotional relaxation to do what is asked for him to do.
See my posts here and here for ways to effectively exercise.
4) Eat Well and Sleep Well
Consume a mostly plant-based diet with healthy fats, and get at least 7.5 hours of rest to fuel your body’s metabolic systems.
When you have a higher BMR, you require less sleep, and you require more food to maintain your weight. Your brain is clear, your willpower is higher, and all aspects of life – emotional, physical, and spiritual – are on a much higher plane!
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