RMR testing - Worthwhile?

If you have lost a lot of weight previously, and are having a hard time getting down to a respectable racing weight, would RMR testing be worth pursuing?

I have heard that people who lose a significant percentage of their body weight (like me) sometimes have “damaged” metabolisms that make losing additional weight (or keeping lost weight off) hard.

I ask this because I am not losing weight despite an almost comical mismatch between my Garmin watches’ calorie estimates and what I (think) am actually consuming.

Has anyone had their RMR tested? How did it compare to RMR calculators?

I experienced this before when I lost 14 kg to reach 72. There is a limit to lose weight in a certain time and keep it safely and easily. I suggest you to only focus on to saving your weight for a time and next year try the reaching the racing weight. Firstly your body should adapt the new weight and it should be your normal weight by time. If you push to lost further you feel fatigued, will think on food always and lack of recovery. Dont forget that lowest weight is not always optimal weight.

In my case, I have been remarkably weigh stable for about three or four years.

This is a fancy way of saying that I have failed to lose any significant weight for three seasons.


I’ve been using an app someone mentioned on here (MacroFactors) and it’s been super helpful for calorie tracking. This feels like an ad, but it’s similar to TR in that it uses machine learning to calculate calories out and calories in based on weight tracking and calories you enter into the app.

Basically, it comes up with its own effective RMR and will adjust your daily intake based on the values it’s seeing, up or down as necessary. It also calculates weight as a trend and downplays the individual daily data by putting at the bottom of the screen. You have to swipe down half a screen to see daily scale weight, but the Trend value (which is something like a 10 day average) is right up top.

Obviously, it’s garbage in out garbage out in terms of data but the models seem to be working pretty well in the month or so I’ve been using it. And seeing the Trend value instead of the daily scale value as the default is really helpful for perspective.

In my experience, calorie tracking apps are full of incorrect information (because the content is largely community generated) and they aren’t very useful if you don’t live in the country they were developed in.

Anecdotally, I lost something like 35 kg without tracking anything on low carb and basically nothing tracking calories (at least not in the last 10 years).

Calorie tracking via an app (rather than manual training based on memorized nutrition data or package nutritional data) is going to be really useful until there’s an AI that can guess calories and macros with 10% from a picture of a plate and a net weight…

Yeah, I’m sure that’s absolutely true. I’m finding it to be most helpful in terms of just tracking to make sure I’m aware of what I’m actually eating, but also it’s been helpful to make sure that I don’t overdo it, eat too little, then get starving and binge.

If I don’t track at all, I tend to forget all the little things that I’m grabbing and eating throughout the day.


If you recently lost a lot of weight and have hit a plateau I suggest less not more. In other words bring your calories back up to maintenance for a period of a few months or even slightly above. You won’t gain back any noticeable fat.

All of the hormonal adaptations that may or may not occur during a bout of dieting will reverse in that time period.

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Everything (burn and food calories) is an estimate and can change.

What has worked for me is to keep it really simple:

  • roughly 1800-1900 calories basal metabolic rate
  • add calorie burn from cycling

to roughly estimate total daily burn. Walks and stretching/strength don’t burn much, maybe another 100-200 calories, because I sit in front of a computer all day and cycling workouts generally burn 1000-1500 calories.

Divide up my plate at lunch and dinner:

and every once in a while use a calorie tracker for a week to help me understand and adjust portion sizes.

Step on the scale everyday and make minor adjustments on portion sizes.

This method relies on having most meals at home.

An RMR test using a metabolic cart is not an estimate, at least not in the same way that using a height/weight/age/sex formula is. It’s an indirect measurement.

Contestants on The Biggest Loser ended up with RMRs 500 kcal below baseline even six years after the show. If someone who has undergone similar metabolic adaptation was to base their calorific deficit calculations on what their RMR SHOULD be, they could end up gaining weight instead of losing it.

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Initial weight loss when you have a significant amount to lose can be somewhat simple…calories in < calories out. Once you have lost a lot of that initial weight, it can become more complicated due to a multitude of factors, including: changing metabolism, age, diet, etc.

In those cases, knowing your exact RMR can be an important factor…you need to know what the baseline calorie burn is. But even then, once you have plateaued, you’ll likely need to adjust other areas such as mix of diet, etc. Simply measuring of calories won’t be sufficient at that point.

Your body adapts to the changes it has gone though and you need to adapt your weight loss strategies in turn.

Notice the flexibility in my scheme, you use feedback from daily weigh-ins to adjust portion sizes. You do a rough estimate and then fine tune and tweak based on looking at the scale and averaging things out in your head. My wife has weighed the same her entire adult life, and she taught me the basic divide your plate method that was in the link above. She has never counted calories or estimated BMR in her life. It worked for her, and while I don’t have the same discipline and gained weight over time, I successfully used this flexible scheme to lose weight while largely avoiding the tedium of counting calories.

Good luck!

Stronger by science just released a podcast that includes a discussion of “metabolic damage” in the context of “reverse dieting”. It’s a long one, so check out the time stamps :slight_smile: ‎The Stronger By Science Podcast: Stretch-Mediated Hypertrophy and Reverse Dieting on Apple Podcasts

Article on the topic here:

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If memory serves, the studies on the Biggest Loser contestants found their RMRs never recovered to what it was before the initial weight loss, so the vast majority either gained it all back or actually ended up fatter.

I would call that metabolic damage.


Whatever you do, don’t trust your Garmin for calories.

Is your real question, how do I loose weight?

If your RMR estimates from formulas seem not to work for weight loss, you could substract a little and go from there.
The testing seems unnecessary if you ask me, but If it gets you going on a journey, why not.

No… my question is why the first 30+ kg basically slid off over a year and a half while the last ~10 kg have been like banging my head against a wall for three years straight.

You’ve said that you’ve been stable for the last so i’d say that you’ve been consuming about the same as you burn on average. So, eat less, lose weight.

For me calorie counting (combined with accurate burn numbers from a PM) worked really well to lose about 10KG in half a year to go from 85 to 75.

That’s more of a tautology than an answer.
Of course I am eating as much as I am burning.
The question is why.

…probably all the alcohol. lol.

That only works to a post for many people….they can lose big chunks of weight by “eating less, moving more” but then they plateau and the last bit of weight can be very difficult to lose.

The science then gets trickier…it is a complex balance between calories, exercise and food types.

Yeah, that isn’t helping you. I would start by eliminating alcohol from your diet, or at least severely restricting it. Also try to eat cleaner, whole foods vs. processed food.

The OP is asking if RMR testing is worthwhile. Based on my experience, I would say YES. Not for calorie counting; just to know where your metabolism is at.

I did an RMR test the most recent time I got a DXA scan, in mid-July. My result was like 1785 calories tested RMR, compared to an expected value of 1986 calories based on my age and size (age 56, 192 cm, 88.5 kg at the time of the test). I thought it was a pretty interesting result. My interpretation is that I’m doing a lot of training (probably 7 hours a week on average on the wattbike for the six months preceding the RMR test, ramping up to 11-12 hours a week in the weeks preceding the test), so my body was trying to be as chill as possible when not exercising.

As for losing weight, I prefer to focus on body composition. I could see throwing away my home scale and just doing a DXA scan twice a year. If you’re young, maybe watts/kg is all that matters. But over 50, I think it’s more important to preserve/increase muscle mass, with weight loss coming from fat. So DXA is really useful.

FWIW BMR Calculator, Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator | MyFitnessPal.com uses the ‘better’ equations. If I put that into that calculator, it estimates 1801 calories vs your 1785 tested. Pretty small difference. Not all Internet estimators are created equal, and individual variation of course.

Every now and then I do calorie counting, just to mentally adjust my brain’s perception of portion sizes. I’ve used MyFitnessPal estimates and round down, my RMR / BMR is estimated at 1800 when rounded down. That number works really well as a rough guess, and it also helps to realize you can’t precisely count food calories.

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