What is basal metabolism and what does it mean in our body?

Many times the concept of basal metabolism is stated to refer to the weight loss process. However, not everyone is clear about what it really means. For this reason, we are going to explain its importance and how it can intervene in body composition.

Remember that maintaining an adequate weight is key in preventing the development of chronic and complex diseases. It is important to avoid fat mass gains, since this element can alter the functioning of the systems when the lipids themselves lodge around the organs.

How is basal metabolism calculated?

The first thing to know is that basal metabolism is defined as the energy that an individual needs for the simple fact of being alive to carry out vital functions in a situation of rest, without activity. From here, all the movement carried out will increase energy needs, which can affect the caloric balance.

The most widespread way to calculate basal metabolism is using the Harris-Benedict formula, as stated by research published in the journal Clinical Nutrition. This is simple and is based on a relationship between body weight, height and age. It has the following form:

  • Mens: Basal metabolic rate = (10 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 x age in years) + 5
  • Women: Basal metabolic rate = (10 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 x age in years) – 161

Basal metabolic rate is a formula that can be used as the basis for weight loss plans.

To know more: How many calories do we need? Should we count them?

What is the use of knowing the basal metabolism data?

The main utility of knowledge of the metabolic rate is the ability to adapt the energy needs of the diet later. It is true that it is necessary to apply a multiple of physical activity to the result to get an estimate of the energy expended throughout the day, but through this equation we get an idea of ​​the difference between caloric needs.

Thanks to this, it can be easier to plan an adequate and balanced diet. Eating more calories than are consumed leads to fat weight gain, which has been shown to negatively impact the functioning of the human body. From here, the risk of suffering from chronic problems, such as cardiovascular ones, increases.

You may also be interested: How many calories should be consumed daily?

How many calories do you need a day?

Calorie needs for healthy adult subjects are estimated to range between 1,500 and 2,000 kilocalories per day. It is clear that there are induced variations, for example, by the level of physical activity.

Very active people could exceed a consumption of 3000 kilocalories per day. It is necessary to provide them constantly through diet, otherwise a catabolism of muscle mass could occur.

On the other hand, there are pathological situations that can also increase energy requirements. An example would be that of people who have suffered a severe and extensive burn.

In the case of developing certain complex pathologies, this process could also be experienced. Be that as it may, in the context of the disease, there is evidence that the Harris Benedict equation already mentioned is a useful tool for preparing adapted menus.

Cases of decreased caloric needs

It is also possible to find cases in which the energy needs are reduced. An example could be that of bedridden patients. In this case, the value of physical activity must be discarded. At the same time, there may be a decline in the performance of various organs.

In the same way, there are other pathologies that can reduce basal metabolism, such as metabolic type. From here it is necessary to adjust the dietary pattern to achieve a diet according to the needs that prevents a fat weight gain.

Prolonged hospitalizations reduce caloric needs, so the diet in clinics is adapted to this.

Basal metabolism is an important data

As you have seen, Knowing a person's basal metabolism can be decisive when preparing a nutritional guideline tailored to your needs. In any case, the means we have to estimate this data present a certain margin of error. It is necessary to take this into account and make the appropriate adaptations.

On the other hand, we must not forget that energy needs vary, depending on various factors. The level of physical activity is one, but metabolic or complex diseases can also affect the parameter.

It is essential to take all the data into account so as not to propose a daily caloric intake that does not correspond to the needs. In this situation, a loss of lean mass or a gain of fat tissue could be counterproductive to health.