How Many Calories Does Your Body Burn While Resting?

I recently came across an article in a publication that addressed this question. I found it to be very straight forward and in line with the message that Infinite Healing Arts Center relays to the members of our practice, so I thought it would be nice to share here. Your basal or resting metabolic rate (RMR) is something that can help you to understand how many calories your body is burning while not exercising.

calculating your resting metabolic rate

This is the only way to capture the 'real' BMR, but you can use the formula in this article for a quick estimate.

The reason why this formula (see below) is helpful is that you can appreciate that you will be able to lose more weight if you have a higher resting metabolic rate. We’ll also cover a few ways that you can improve your rate in this article, too. The basic idea is that the greater your body’s ability to burn calories at rest, the more weight you can or will lose. This is only enhanced by participating in regular exercise and a healthy diet.

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Okay, so here is the formula:


(10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) +5


(10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) – 161

w = weight in kilograms (kg)

h = height in centimeters (cm)

a = age in years

Conversion table:

1 pound = .454 kg (1kg = 2.2 lbs)

1 inch = 2.54 cm

Let’s do an example:

A woman is 42 years old, weighs 140 pounds and is 5’7” tall.

You would first convert 140 pounds to kilograms as such:

140 lbs. x .454 kg = 63.5 kg

1 kg 1 lb.

Now, convert her height into inches.

5’7” equals 67 inches

67 in x 2.54 cm = 170 cm

1 cm. 1 inch

Okay, now plug the numbers into the equation.

(10 x 63.5) + (6.25 x 170) – (5 x 42) – 161 = 1,327

So, in this example, we see that this particular woman will burn approximately 1,327 calories at rest.

How to Increase Your Resting Metabolic Rate

You’ve probably heard that muscle burns more calories than fat. This is true, but not as much as is often claimed. You can read more about this in this Runner’s World article. So, in order to have a higher RMR, you can increase your lean muscle mass. One way to achieve this is by doing resistance training. You can use your own body weight or use weights. Yes, this will help.

However, a much more effective way to increase your metabolic rate is to do aerobic exercise. Things like running, hiking, snowshoeing (not that pertinent down here in Phoenix-metro), biking, swimming and walking are all great avenues to consider based upon your abilities.

Paying closer attention to your diet is also key. You will not necessarily increase your RMR by eating healthier, but you will give your body calories from ‘clean’ sources that it can utilize much more effectively and efficiently. Imagine it like giving your car the best fuel money can buy, rather than the cheap stuff that your cousin brews up in his garage. What would you trust putting in your Maserati?

Harris Benedict Formula

You may also be interested in knowing how many calories you need to consume daily depending on how active you are. These factors are used to keep your weight maintained. Obviously, to lose weight, you’ll need to combine fewer calories consumed with more exercise performed. Similarly, if you’re trying to gain weight (what? some people are…) you’ll need to take these facts into consideration.

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your resting metabolic rate by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

• If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = RMR x 1.2

• If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = RMR x 1.375

• If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = RMR x 1.55

• If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = RMR x 1.725

• If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = RMR x 1.9

Hopefully, you’ll also be maintaining appropriate hydration while you fall into the latter of the categories above. No matter your weight goals consider that those who are concerned about their weight solely for aesthetic reasons often have a much harder time maintaining their desired weight. The take away message is that resting metabolic rate is a good gauge for you to appreciate your caloric needs based on a variety of factors. And, watching your weight for health reasons will actually help you maintain your weight much more effectively.

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