Resting Metabolic Rate: An Important Metric For Weight Loss

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What is the Resting Metabolic Rate?  

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in the body to keep it alive and functioning.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the rate at which a mammal’s body burns calories when it is entirely at rest.

It can be defined as the metabolism of a mammal during a specific period where the mammal is in a strict and steady resting state; this is based on the assumption that there are physiological homeostasis and biological equilibrium.

The RMR is different from the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), as BMR is essentially the minimum number of calories that your body needs to perform its most basic life-sustaining functions. 

Why is resting metabolic rate significant? 

RMR is an essential part of the body’s functioning, and it is vital for losing weight thereby maintaining optimum body weight without hampering the body’s function.

By determining the body’s RMR, it helps one to know about the number of calories burnt at rest and the number of calories that need to be lost further to lose fat.

What are the factors that affect the resting metabolic rate?

Many factors affect RMR:

  • Body mass: Higher the body mass, the higher the metabolic rate of the individual. A smaller and lighter individual has a lower RMR and BMR as the body needs to work less hard to maintain extra weight.
  • Composition of the body: Individuals with more muscle mass have a higher RMR.
  • Gender: Due to the difference in body mass and composition, men have a higher RMR than women.
  • Age: Metabolism is believed to decrease as people age, due to a decline in lean muscle mass.
  • Hormones: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and other reproductive hormones are responsible for maintaining metabolism. Lower levels of TSH reduce metabolism. There is also a significant increase in resting metabolism during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Exercise: Exercising to build lean muscle mass can cause a chronic increase in the metabolism of the individual. Cardiovascular exercises are great for increasing the total energy expenditure during the day, but does not create a constant rise in the resting metabolic rate.
  • Weight loss: As we saw earlier, individuals with a lower body mass tend to have a lower RMR. Similarly, individuals who lose weight tend to have lower RMR as the body needs little energy to maintain its essential functions.
  • Fever or infection: When the body is affected by a virus or illness, it spends more energy to fight it. This results in a significant increase in resting metabolism and overall metabolism, as well.
  • Stress: When the body is undergoing stress, it releases hormones like epinephrine and nor-epinephrine that, in turn, increase the metabolism, improve heart and respiration rates.
  • Nicotine: It has been observed that exposure to tobacco products can increase the resting metabolic rate of an individual.

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How to increase your resting metabolic rate?

Try following these tips and hacks to increases your RMR:

  • Increase protein intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Kick in some cardio to your workout routine
  • Boost your metabolism with some green tea and spicy foods
  • Maintain a healthy sleep cycle and try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night

What is the difference between RMR and BMR?

Though BMR and RMR are used interchangeably, they are different.

BMR is the number of calories required by the body to perform its functions, whereas RMR  is the minimum number of calories that are needed by the body when it is at rest.

In spite of these differences, RMR is an accurate measurement of your BMR.

What is the normal RMR? 

The average RMR of women is 1400 calories (1200-1600 calories range), whereas it is a higher figure of 1800 calories in men (1600-2000 calories range).

What is the relation between RMR and weight loss? 

As we already know, a decrease in body weight brings about a reduction in the RMR of an individual.

This decline in the bodyweight is called metabolic adaptation.

When an individual loses weight, the decline in his/her RMR is more significant than what would be expected based on the measured changes in the body composition.

The main reason that people put on weight after having undergone a crash diet or a weight loss program is that they are hungry, and this hunger increases their craving and drives them to eat more.

This, coupled with the slowed-down RMR, tends to cause sudden weight gain.


Read more: Optimize Your Weight Loss Plan With Your 23andMe Raw Data.


RMR and genetics involved

ROBO2A allele is associated to be a risk for resting metabolic rate
rs80575APOL3T allele is associated to be a risk for resting metabolic rate
rs2251220KIAA1549G allele is associated to be beneficial for resting metabolic rate
rs28545754EXD3C allele is associated to be beneficial for resting metabolic rate
rs74010762TRPM1A allele is associated to be a risk for resting metabolic rate

SNP rs80275771 is associated with the ROBO2 gene located on chromosome 3. Individuals who have the A allele of the gene are observed to have a lower resting metabolic rate and a higher BMI (Body Mass Index)

SNP rs80575 located on the APOL3 gene on chromosome 22  has been linked to resting metabolic rate. The presence of the T allele decreased the RMR of the individual, thereby increasing the chances of developing obesity and other lifestyle diseases.

The rs2251220 SNP is located on chromosome 7 in association with the KIAA1549 gene. G allele is associated with an increase in BMR, whereas A allele is linked to a reduction in RMR.

SNP rs28545754 located on the EXD3 gene on chromosome 9, has also been linked to RMR. Individuals with the C allele of this gene have a higher RMR compared to those having the T allele. Therefore, the C allele is more beneficial than the T allele.

SNP rs74010762 is located on chromosome 15 and associated with the TRPM1 gene. The A allele of this gene is associated with a low RMR.


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What is a keto diet? 

One of the most popular diet facts today is the keto diet.

The diet has three main components – low carbs, moderate proteins, and high fats.

This diet helps one to lose extra weight by changing the fuel provided for the body to function.

Usually, carbohydrates help fuel the body (typically glucose), but in keto-diet, the body uses fats instead.

Keto diet’s impact on RMR 

There has been a concern about how this keto diet affects the RMR in the individual.

We now know that our RMR is the number of calories burnt when our body is at rest.

At rest, our body performs many internal functions such as breathing, circulation, healing, etc., all of which require calories burning. 

Many people believe that consuming less fat is the best way to reduce weight faster.

However, what they are unaware of is that consuming fewer calories or fat than their RMR or putting their body through starvation mode will make weight loss even more difficult.

This happens because the body’s metabolism gets down-regulated, and the body is more tempted to hold on to its fat reserves.

Advantages of keto diet 

Keto diet has a direct impact on your RMR because the food changes the way your body processes calories:

  • Keto diet is based on the fundamental principle that the body is burning fats to provide energy contrary to a regular diet wherein the body uses glucose and other carbs to fuel itself. In keto diet, the body converts proteins into fat and then burns this fat. This process consumes more calories, thereby promoting weight loss.
  • As the body loses weight due to the keto diet, it’s caloric needs decrease, and a lower weight automatically means a lower RMR. However, post keto diet, if one goes back to the regular diet, coupled with the decreased RMR and BMR, the weight rebound is faster.
  • Keto, also called thermogenic diet, burns fat faster than most other diets. Due to this, the RMR can increase and improve the way your body is now adapted to burn fat.
  • Ketosis is better than many other diets that involve caloric restriction as it helps to boost the RMR.


Before you begin on any diet, it is strictly advised that you determine your RMR, i.e., know how many calories you burn every day.


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