by Chad Kerksick PhD October 08, 2012 3 min read
Yes, this is an important measurement and has great meaning towards any person who hopes to gain weight or lose weight. The topic of energy has been discussed before as it is one of fundamental importance and appreciation. I have said it before and I will say it again, “Eat less, move more”. If you accomplish this day in and day out and keep making strides you will see changes in your body.
The measurement at your local gym will likely be performed with a small handheld device that overall does a decent job of measuring consistently. Certainly, it does not have as much accuracy as more expensive means to complete this measurement, but that’s why your gym has it and not a hospital or research lab. Upon completion, the measurement will provide an estimate of your resting energy expenditure which is also commonly called your resting metabolic rate. You may even see this referred to as basal metabolic rate. Essentially all three terms describe the same thing and can be interchanged. However, technically speaking you should know that basal measurements are slightly different than resting measurements. For most women the value will fall between 1,200 and 1,800 calories per day and it all depends on your age, height, weight and body composition. Typical male values will usually fall between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day.
Simply speaking this measurement is an estimate of the amount of calories your body burns each day just staying alive. No moving around or anything, just picture yourself lying in bed all day awake and this is how many calories you will burn. Many research studies have used your resting metabolic rate as a starting point for how many calories someone should consume each day if they want to lose a progressive amount of weight. Thus, if you want to lose weight and aren’t sure how many calories to eat each day, this is a very simple guideline you could consider following, just use your resting metabolic rate. Thus, this measurement is important because it gives you an idea of how many calories your body needs to sustain itself and also how many calories you could consider consuming if you desire to lose weight.
Things to Consider Before the Test
If you are going to pay some of your hard-earned cash for this measurement do yourself a few favors to ensure the most accuracy from your test. For starters, schedule the measurement in the morning before work. The morning of your test make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and do not consume any caffeine or nicotine. These things will just elevate your metabolic rate and result in a measurement that says you can eat more than what you actually should. For all I would care, you can walk out of the test with a cigarette in one hand and a Red Bull in the other, but just do not have these things before the test.
Next, leave plenty of time for your test and arrive early. I have completed several of these measurements where the person is running late and they are in a hurry running around trying to make up for time. What do you think all of this rushing around does to a person’s metabolic rate? It increases it, again giving you a false sense of how many calories you need. For a similar reason, the test should last at least fifteen minutes and many times can last for 20 to 30 minutes; the first ten minutes are simply to allow the person to relax and completely calm down all of the systems of their body. Lastly, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before, make sure your diet is normal and finally that you haven’t completed any form of exercise for one day prior to the test. All of these things can impact your overall metabolic rate and make your measurement less accurate.
All in all I like feedback and this test is well worth the $25-$50 gyms typically charge. This test is a simple straight-forward means to get some great feedback about how many calories you should be consuming each day. For those people who want to lose some weight or even for those who want to gain weight, this measurement provides an excellent foundation.