Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition and Eating Disorders

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and body composition are two physiological markers used to track recovery from an eating disorder. When your body is in recovery both of these measurements will return to normal levels. Below is some information to help you understand what is going on in your body.

Facts About Metabolism

Your metabolism is the sum of all vital processes in your body in which energy and nutrients from food are made available to use in your body. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy needed to keep all your vital processes functioning—this does not include activity, exercise, digestion, or absorption. Your RMR is the amount of energy you would need if you were to stay in bed all day long and just rest; it accounts for 70-85% of the calories you burn in a day.

•    RMR differs from one person to the next depending on your age, gender, body composition, activity level, and genetic make-up.
•    RMR can adapt for different conditions. It does this to help protect a genetically determined weight and energy balance.
•    RMR naturally, it decreases slightly as you age.
•    A history of off and on dieting can result in a much greater “slow down” effect.
•    The total amount of calories you burn in a day is equal to your RMR plus your daily activity plus your exercise.
•    With proper nutrition and meeting an appropriate calorie goal, your metabolism can increase to 100%.

Facts about Body Composition

Body composition is the amount of fat and the amount of lean muscle tissue that make up your body. Body fat is a good indication of health and can be monitored throughout your eating disorder recovery.

•    High body fat is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This is not the only concern, low body fat can also be a detriment to your health.
•    Lean muscle tissue is the part of your body that burns calories. It is optimal to increase your lean muscle tissue while keeping your body fat within a normal range.
•    As you get older, your muscle tissue will naturally decrease thus decreasing the total calories you burn in a day
•    A normal body fat percentage for a female is about 17%-22% and a normal body fat percentage for a male is about 13-18%. It will vary based on your genetics.
•    As you begin to gain weight, the majority of your weight gain will be muscle. Your body will replace this first and then replace the fat that it has lost.

RMR, Body Composition, and Eating Disorders

An eating disorder takes a physical toll on your body which can be seen in several ways: cardiac evaluations, bone density scans, complete blood counts, resting metabolic rate, and body composition. RMR testing and body composition monitoring is very easy to track throughout your recovery.

•    If you have been restricting and have lost a significant amount of weight,
•    If you have been over-exercising and not compensating with proper nutrition, or if you have a binge/purge cycle, your metabolism has probably decreased.
•    Your body is running at a much lower capacity—your heart rate is slower, your muscles might be weaker, all of your organs are working at a much lower capacity.
•    If your body fat percentage is below 15%, your bone health could be compromised. If you are female you might not have a regular menstrual cycle.
•    It is important to improve both your RMR and your body composition so that your body can be in the best state of health.
•    You can increase your RMR by increasing your caloric intake to meet your personal needs.
•    If you are underweight, you can gain weight up to a healthy body fat to ensure total health.