Tuesday, February 1, 2022

BMR and Reverse Dieting

BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, that rate at which your metabolism burns calories. Many different factors including: age, height, weight, activity level, hormones, medications, and thyroid health play a role in what this number is. Your base BMR is what I like to call coma calories. Basically meaning if you were in a coma in the hospital the amount of calories you would need to run your bodily systems and function. The number goes up from there based on the lifestyle you live; from sedentary to extremely active jobs. This number is important because we can use it as a tool to see if we are under or over eating and as a way to help fix our metabolism and even speed it back up. In many cases that I have seen the cause of slower metabolisms has been due to undereating. The more underfed we are the more our BMR drops. For example, say I workout 5x a week doing mostly HIIT and cardio and I am only eating 1300 calories per day; my BMR (coma) should be 1300 however because of the amount of exercise I do my BMR may look more like 900 because of the limited amount of calories consumed and the protein synthesis would also be lower (when your body takes what it needs to survive from your muscles instead of the food you eat). In order to fix this I would need to double my calorie intake to 2600 so my body can recognize that I am now giving it enough fuel to run its functions and also enough fuel for my workouts and my recovery. This, in turn, speeds up my metabolism to a more “normal” number of 1300 or even above that to 1500 or 1600 and also helps speed up protein synthesis. Once this is fixed (and only when this is fixed) can you begin to go into a caloric deficit to lose weight if that is your goal. This is how reverse dieting works. You may be thinking to yourself, Sami wouldn’t an increase in calories cause more weight gain?, and to answer your question, maybe. It may cause a slight increase in weight (this is temporary) or you may start to lose weight. It really depends on your hormones at that point in the process and how fast your body recognizes it is now receiving enough food to fuel itself. We need to remember that fixing your metabolism is a process that can take months to figure out and work. What we also need to remember is that weight DOES NOT equal health. Focus more on how you feel throughout the process versus the number on the scale. Reverse dieting will also give you a little more food freedom and the ability to help you heal your relationship with food and the constant binge and restrict that we see so often. Another question when it comes to reverse dieting is wondering if that means you can eat whatever you want. Yes and no. You want to eat more (and I mean massive amounts) of whole foods like fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts/seeds (if your gut can handle that), lean sources of meat, and lots of water. You can still have unhealthy foods, just less of them. You’ll find when you eat massive amounts of whole foods you won't be craving the unhealthy foods as much anyway.