What is an RMR test?

Fitness, Nutrition
Jan 23, 2020

St. Joseph’s/Candler health educators explain metabolic rate and how it can help you lose weight

Is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight not going quite as planned? Well, you can’t blame your metabolism, but you can get a better understanding of it to help you reach your weight loss goal.

The best way to learn more about your metabolism, specifically your metabolic rate (the rate at which metabolism occurs), is through an RMR test, which is offered through the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center.

Jason Boyd

Simply put, metabolism is all the energy required for bodily functions needed to live – breathing, a beating heart, brain function, for example, explains Jason Boyd, health educator and exercise physiologist with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center.  

Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns while at rest. It is one of three components of your total metabolic rate, comprising of 70 percent of your body’s daily energy expenditure, Boyd says. The RMR test is a simple, non-invasive test that determines your RMR.

How it works

Before the test, you should be fasting for at least six hours and well-relaxed. During the test, you will be lying in a chair, in a comfortable environment, and breathing into a tube that is connected to a computer. The computer captures and analyzes the composition of your breath, determining your oxygen consumption, to measure the rate at which you consume energy.

That produces your RMR. Then, our Wellness Center experts add an additional 20 percent of that number for calories typically burned with normal activity and another 10 percent the average person burns just in digesting food, Boyd explains.

Exercise physiologists and dietitians can then use that total metabolic rate to help you plan a diet and exercise plan to lose or maintain weight.

“The reason why it’s very important to have an RMR is because there is no way to know with certainty how many calories a person burns just by looking at them or even doing an estimation,” Boyd says. “This test is critical for getting an accurate reading on how many calories you burn, which is in my opinion fundamental to weight loss because if you do not know what you are burning then how can a dietitian tell you how much you should be eating?

“You have to have both sides of the equation and having an RMR sets you up for much more success.”

Let’s look at an example

Let’s say your total metabolic rate is 2,600. If you consume precisely 2,600 calories a day, you would be in perfect balance, not gaining or losing weight, Boyd explains.

But, if you are trying to lose weight you would need to consume less than 2,600 calories. To do this in a healthy and successful manner, most dietitians and exercise physiologists would recommend a 500 calorie deficit. This would lead to about a pound of weight loss each week.

You can create that deficit by eating 500 less calories every day or by eating 250 less calories and burning 250 calories through exercise.

Don’t fall into a trap

Taking that example, you now know you need to aim for 2,100 calories (without exercise). That doesn’t mean you should consume all your daily calories with junk food and soda. That’s where a dietitian can come in and help you create a successful food plan.

Chloe Paddison

Chloe Paddison, a registered dietitian and education specialist at St. Joseph’s/Candler, takes a realistic approach to food behaviors. “I’m not going to tell you you shouldn’t be eating a certain food. I look more at the patterns of how you are eating throughout the day. Then we can look at how to restructure your eating patterns.”

When it comes to metabolism, Paddison likes to talk to clients about the three S words, and she doesn’t mean sugar, starch and soda.

“It’s skipping, which leads to starving, which leads to stuffing, which starts the cycle all over again,” Paddison says. “We stay in this cycle of not enough energy, too much energy, etc. It’s a tug of war and that’s where a lot of people hit that plateau.”

What else the RMR test tells you

Besides your RMR, the test also tells you your respiratory quotient (RQ). This value shows you what percentage of your metabolism you burn in terms of carbohydrates vs. fat. This can help the dietitian and you know if more of your calories should come from carbs or fat.

It’s not a one-time test

The RMR can be taken more than once and should be taken at least every three to six months if you experience significant weight loss.

“The metabolic rate is a dynamic number which is why we suggest testing it ever so often,” Boyd says.

RMR test pricing at the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness offers several packages that include the RMR test.

Resting Metabolic Rate Assessment
Cost: $75 for first testing (60 minutes); $50 for follow-up tests (30 minutes)

Performance package
Cost: $175


  • Resting Metabolic Rate
  • Maximal Oxygen Consumption (VO2max) measured via metabolic cart
  • Body composition analysis (percentage of body fat, fat mass, fat-free mass)
  • One-hour metabolic result consult on how to use the results
  • One-hour personal training

Details: This is an all-inclusive assessment examining both caloric needs at rest and cardiorespiratory fitness. The test is similar to a treadmill stress test, but designed for individuals with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The test will determine your maximum oxygen uptake (VO2), which is the gold standard for measuring cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness. Once this value is determined, a proper individualized training zone and aerobic exercise will be prescribed. The development of an Exercise Prescription and one-hour personal training to get started also is included.

Jump Start Your Weight Loss
Cost: $435


  • Measured Resting Metabolic Rate
  • Three-day diet recall
  • Initial dietary assessment & consult
  • Three, 30-minute follow-up assessments
  • Ten, 30-minute personal training sessions


For more information about RMR testing or any of these packages, please call the Wellness Center at 912-819-8800 or visit our website.

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