100 lb. Club - BMR Test




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jtammy
07-25-2006, 08:03 PM
What type of facility would you go to have your BMR tested? A family doctor? A gym??? Anyone who has had it done, what is the average fee? I'm guessing it is something not covered by most insurances. Any info would be appreciated. It's something I would sure like to learn more about.


Meg
07-25-2006, 08:20 PM
Hi Tammy! Bally's gyms offer BodyGem testing to measure your RMR. It costs around $50 and you don't have to be a member to get it done. If you have a Bally's near you, give them a call and they'll set you up. If you don't have a Bally's, many other gyms offer similar tests. I don't know if many doctors would have invested in the equipment. I've never heard of it being covered by insurance.

I've had mine checked twice - the first time was right after I reached goal and it was 1395. After a year of pretty heavy weight training and adding muscle, it went up to 1600. Muscle rocks the house! :strong:

Hope that helps! :)

jtammy
07-25-2006, 10:36 PM
Thanks Meg, that's just the kind of information I needed!


Heather
07-25-2006, 11:59 PM
I've had mine checked twice - the first time was right after I reached goal and it was 1395. After a year of pretty heavy weight training and adding muscle, it went up to 1600. Muscle rocks the house!

Meg -- You've said in the past that you can't eat a lot of calories without gaining -- I thought your calorie level was below 1600. If your RMR is 1600 then if you tack on additional exercise and lifestyle, shouldn't you be able to eat more and maintain? I guess I'm now wondering how accurate the test is, or whether I'm misinterpreting how to understand RMR...

Meg
07-26-2006, 07:58 AM
Heather, that's the million dollar question and I just don't know the answer!

The BodyGem test is supposed to be fairly accurate - I was trained by the manufacturer when I started to work at Ballys and they have all sorts of studies to back it up. And no, you're not misunderstanding BMR/RMR either (for our purposes they're the same). All these things are pretty accurate for 'normal' (never obese) persons.

But all the rules change once we lose a lot of weight. We - the 'reduced obese' - live in an alternative universe. :dizzy: All I know for sure is that I can't eat nearly as many calories as I should be able to and maintain my weight according to metabolic calculators, the BodyGem and probably any other measure you can think of. With a RMR of 1600 and the amount of exercise I do, I should easily be able to maintain at over 2000 calories per day. But when I eat that much, I gain. Grrrr ...

Why? I read and research this all the time to try to figure out what's going on and my belief is that it's biochemical and hormonal. My body as a 'reduced obese' person is very, very different from someone of the same age and size who never was overweight. The weight I'm maintaining is not where my body wants to be; it wants to re-establish its equlibrium back around 250 pounds. So it's sending out all sorts of hormonal signals to get me to eat and get my body fat back to where it used to be by conserving energy and calories. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, of course, but sucks in real life.

There's a reason why 95% of dieters who lose weight regain it all again and it's not just a lack of willpower or loss of focus. We're contending with fairly powerful biochemical messages to eat more and regain weight. It's NOT a level playing field and we're NOT playing by the same rules as 'normal' people. Our bodies want to be fat again - it's that simple.

One one hand, this is a fairly depressing message for those of us who were/are obese and I don't mean to bum anyone out or worse, have them give up entirely. But on the other hand, this is REALITY. Better to know what we're up against and make a plan to deal than to be unprepared and end up regaining.

I guess I deal with it by not comparing myself to anyone else. It doesn't matter to me what I should be able to eat and what other people do - it's just not relevant to me. I've already defied a lot of odds by losing down to a normal BMI at age 46, after being hypothyroid and obese my whole life. I suppose that I've defied even more odds by keeping the weight off for more than four years now. But it hasn't been particularly easy or natural for me. It all boils down to THINKING. I eat with my head and not my stomach, which means that I ignore the cues my body is sending out to eat, eat, eat. The day I rely on intuitive eating is the day I start regaining weight because my body intuitively wants me to be fat again. I'm completely convinced of it but I refuse to let it happen.

Wow, this really turned into a treatise on something you didn't even ask about - sorry! :o But you probably can guess it's something that fascinates me and I'm constantly trying to learn more about.

jtammy
07-26-2006, 08:13 AM
Meg, in your experience and training from using it at Ballys, can you comment on how accurate it is on someone who is currently obese as opposed to reduced obese?

I had read from you and other maintainers before that as a reduced obese you couldn't rely on the metabolic calculators, but I assumed you would get accurate results from a machine like the BodyGem. Yah, I guess it does seem like an alternate universe. But as you said, it's reality and it's better to be prepared for it and to plan for how to deal with it that to be unpleasantly surprised later. :)

Meg
07-26-2006, 08:42 AM
Tammy, I think the RMR part of the BodyGem is pretty accurate for everyone. The test measures the amount of oxygen used by your body in a ten minute period and can determine RMR from that because O2 is the fuel of metabolism. In reality, my RMR probably IS pretty close to 1600.

Where it gives wrong results for reduced obese is after the RMR is determined and a formula (just like for metabolic calculators) is applied to determine total energy expenditure in a day. At the gym, we were given a chart with a mutiplier to use to determine daily calories just like Fitday and all the other calculators use - 1.2 for sedentary, 1.4 for moderate activity and so forth.

To back up for a minute, your total calories/energy expenditure are a product of three things: RMR (50-60%) + calories expended in daily activity and exercise (35 - 45%) + the thermic effect of digestion (about 5%). Where the reduced obese differ from normal people is in the daily activity and exercise calories part of the equation, not the RMR (as far as I can tell, RMR is not affected by weight loss except that it takes fewer calories to sustain a smaller body and there's tremendous individual variation). The calories that a reduced obese person expends in daily activity are reduced about 15 - 20% through a biological process of energy conservation. The body becomes very, very efficient at hoarding calories. It bugs me no end that I can bust my butt on the elliptical and still burn 20% fewer calories than the person next to me (and of course the machine readouts are for the birds :dizzy: )

So that's where all the formulas fall down - those activity multipliers. They just don't work if you're not a normal weight person (all the research to create those multipliers and formulas was done on normal weight college students, I've read). Regardless, your RMR is still a useful number to know because it will give you a sense of where your basic metabolism is (at Ballys I've seen reading ranging from 980 to 2560 in women) and give you a baseline to compare to in the future. And it's still true that adding muscle is about the only way that I know for us to RAISE our metabolisms, so keep on :strong: !

Heather
07-26-2006, 08:45 AM
Heather, that's the million dollar question and I just don't know the answer!

The BodyGem test is supposed to be fairly accurate - I was trained by the manufacturer when I started to work at Ballys and they have all sorts of studies to back it up. And no, you're not misunderstanding BMR/RMR either (for our purposes they're the same). All these things are pretty accurate for 'normal' (never obese) persons.

But all the rules change once we lose a lot of weight. We - the 'reduced obese' - live in an alternative universe. :dizzy: All I know for sure is that I can't eat nearly as many calories as I should be able to and maintain my weight according to metabolic calculators, the BodyGem and probably any other measure you can think of. With a RMR of 1600 and the amount of exercise I do, I should easily be able to maintain at over 2000 calories per day. But when I eat that much, I gain. Grrrr ...

Why? I read and research this all the time to try to figure out what's going on and my belief is that it's biochemical and hormonal. My body as a 'reduced obese' person is very, very different from someone of the same age and size who never was overweight. The weight I'm maintaining is not where my body wants to be; it wants to re-establish its equlibrium back around 250 pounds. So it's sending out all sorts of hormonal signals to get me to eat and get my body fat back to where it used to be by conserving energy and calories. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, of course, but sucks in real life.

There's a reason why 95% of dieters who lose weight regain it all again and it's not just a lack of willpower or loss of focus. We're contending with fairly powerful biochemical messages to eat more and regain weight. It's NOT a level playing field and we're NOT playing by the same rules as 'normal' people. Our bodies want to be fat again - it's that simple.

One one hand, this is a fairly depressing message for those of us who were/are obese and I don't mean to bum anyone out or worse, have them give up entirely. But on the other hand, this is REALITY. Better to know what we're up against and make a plan to deal than to be unprepared and end up regaining.

I guess I deal with it by not comparing myself to anyone else. It doesn't matter to me what I should be able to eat and what other people do - it's just not relevant to me. I've already defied a lot of odds by losing down to a normal BMI at age 46, after being hypothyroid and obese my whole life. I suppose that I've defied even more odds by keeping the weight off for more than four years now. But it hasn't been particularly easy or natural for me. It all boils down to THINKING. I eat with my head and not my stomach, which means that I ignore the cues my body is sending out to eat, eat, eat. The day I rely on intuitive eating is the day I start regaining weight because my body intuitively wants me to be fat again. I'm completely convinced of it but I refuse to let it happen.

Wow, this really turned into a treatise on something you didn't even ask about - sorry! :o But you probably can guess it's something that fascinates me and I'm constantly trying to learn more about.

Meg - Thanks so much for your response! I love treatises! :)

And from what I'd read from you before, I thought this was what you would say, but I wanted to be sure. The first time I read it I WAS depressed (okay, truth be told, still am a bit, along with the floppy skin), but I do agree that knowledge is power.

When I have more time, I would love to read more of this research. While I am not familiar with all the biology, I have a very good grasp of research methodology and would like to know more of the specifics to get a sense of the samples they have used, etc...

In the meantime, your experience seems to be consistent with that of many others, in that maintenance really is ongoing work, and that it is a "fight". Something's going on there. But there does seem to be a lot of variability in the amount of calories reduced obese can eat. I've read some people who are able to eat more calories and maintain (though I don't know if they eat like non-obese). So, we're all different.

What's interesting is that it may not ONLY be based on metabolism, otherwise that RMR number would be more accurate. I wonder if some people secret more of the key hormones or chemicals (like leptin) and if there is any test for something like that.

I also wonder to that extent previous dieting experience affects us. Does more yo-yo dieting make a difference? Does it only matter if we "crash diet"? For example, I believe that some research indicates that very low calorie diets does not affect metabolism long term, but does it affect some of these other chemicals and we just don't know how to test for that? What ELSE affects these chemicals?

I obviously have a lot of questions. Sadly, few answers for the million dollar question!

Still, I may go and get this RMR test done. It seems that having it more than once at least provides a comparison, even if the number isn't that accurate in and of itself.

jtammy
07-27-2006, 12:11 PM
Thanks Meg, for the great explanation. It gives me a better understanding of it than what I had before.

It bugs me no end that I can bust my butt on the elliptical and still burn 20% fewer calories than the person next to me

Yeah I didn't know that was the case. I can see how it would be frustrating.

Sandi
07-27-2006, 02:39 PM
I had mine done. It was at a fitness center and I think it was $65.00 or $75.00. They put my calories at 1970 to lose. I know I lose at 1800, so I imagine I'd lose at 1970, just maybe a bit slower.

It was nice to learn that I din't have a slow metabolism after all and it's really something I can control.

Charles78
07-27-2006, 09:55 PM
Great post Meg -

You know - I have worked my numbers to death and I am still up in the air as to what the deal really is. I have had my RMR tested several times and it comes to about 2150. Now, I work as a IT manager so I have a very sedentary job. Most activity factors I see used for sedentary is 1.2. I try and be conservative and use 1.1 That would take my maintenance calories without exercise to 2365.

Now, I exercise 6 days a week. 3 days intense resistance training MWF, and T, TH and Saturday I do cardio. I take Sunday off. Now, according to my HRM, I burn about 600 calories per day when I exercise. Now, again I try and stay conservative - looking at that, I would need to add about 500 calories per day to my maintenance number. Let's just use 1/2 that and use 250. That puts my daily total for maintenance at 2615.

Now, when I was eating 2000 calories per day my weight loss should have averaged a tad over a pound a week. It was in actuality about 1/2 that. I was losing consistently about 1/2 pound per week. I cut my calories to 1600 per day which should give me about a 2 pound per week weight loss and I am now averaging about 1.5 pounds per week.

I am still not sure where the difference comes in. It could be because of the reasons that you listed in your post. I have always suspected that nutritional information provided (and I have seen reports where it can be off by up to 20%) is off and I am simply eating more calories than I think I am.

Either way, I am eating like a king all day long on 1600 calories. Even if I have some metabolic disadvantage, I have hope that I have adopted a sustainable lifestyle.

Great post Meg, and definitely food for thought!

I wish everyone all the very best!