Basal Metabolic Rate: How To Calculate It?

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) serves as a fundamental measure for understanding an individual’s energy expenditure. It dictates the body’s caloric requirements to maintain basal life-sustaining functions. This article covers the intricate aspects of BMR, focusing on its definition, calculation methodologies, influencing factors, and inherent benefits.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the minimum calorific requirement necessary to sustain life in a resting individual. It represents the energy expended to maintain fundamental physiological functions such as breathing, circulation, nutrient processing, and cell production.

BMR forms the core of the body’s energy usage, highlighting the caloric expenditure that occurs even during a resting state. Essentially, basal metabolism encapsulates the energy expended to maintain homeostasis, providing the body with the necessary vigor to perform crucial biological activities.

How is Basal Metabolic Rate Calculated?

To compute the BMR, one requires key information pertaining to the individual’s age, gender, height, and weight. The Harris-Benedict Equation, a widely recognized formula for BMR estimation, necessitates these critical parameters to yield an approximate measure of an individual’s metabolic rate.

How is Basal Metabolic Rate Calculated
How is Basal Metabolic Rate Calculated?

This calculation methodology allows a reasonably precise assessment of the resting energy expenditure, which serves as a cornerstone for various dietary and physical training plans. Furthermore, understanding one’s BMR contributes towards a more nuanced comprehension of the body’s energy needs, thereby facilitating improved health management.

How To Calculate BMR for Men?

For men, the Harris-Benedict Equation is formulated as follows: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years). The variables in the equation represent the individual’s weight, height, and age.

For instance, consider a man of 30 years old, with a weight of 75 kg and a height of 180 cm. Plugging these values into the equation, the BMR would be approximately 1785 calories per day. This figure indicates the energy required for the body to perform basal functions at rest.

How To Calculate BMR for Women?

In the case of women, the Harris-Benedict Equation undergoes a slight alteration: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years). The variables signify the individual’s weight, height, and age, akin to the formula for men.

Consider a woman of 30 years old, weighing 60 kg, and with a height of 165 cm. Substituting these values into the equation, the calculated BMR would be around 1395 calories per day. This result denotes the daily energy expenditure required for the body to carry out fundamental physiological processes at rest.

What Factors Affect Basal Metabolic Rate?

Several factors significantly influence an individual’s BMR. Key among these are age, gender, genetics, body composition, hormonal and overall health condition.

  • Age: Age plays a crucial role as BMR typically decreases with advancing age due to the loss of lean body mass.
  • Gender: Gender is another determinant, with men generally exhibiting a higher BMR than women owing to their larger muscle mass.
  • Genetics: Genetics contribute to BMR variations among individuals, with certain genetic variants associated with either higher or lower metabolic rates.
  • Body composition: Body composition influences BMR as muscle tissues are more metabolically active than fat tissues.
  • hormonal and health status: Hormonal and overall health status can alter BMR, with conditions such as hyperthyroidism leading to increased BMR and hypothyroidism resulting in a decreased BMR.

What Are the Benefits of Understanding Basal Metabolic Rate?

Understanding one’s BMR offers four distinct benefits, these include; assisting in devising accurate dietary plans, providing valuable insight into one’s metabolic health, supporting the customization of exercise regimes, assisting healthcare professionals.

  • Assists in devising accurate dietary plans: This enables the calculation of a suitable calorie intake to achieve weight loss, gain, or maintenance goals.
  • Provides valuable insight into one’s metabolic health: This helps identify potential metabolic disorders.
  • Supports the customization of exercise regimes: By determining the energy expenditure during rest, this facilitates the setting of realistic and achievable fitness goals. BMR knowledge contributes to an enhanced understanding of one’s body, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle.
  • Assists healthcare professionals: This assists healthcare professionals in predicting the energy needs of patients, thus aiding in the management of various health conditions.

Can Exercise Increase Basal Metabolic Rate?

Yes, exercise can augment and increase Basal Metabolic Rate. This increase primarily stems from the additional muscle mass gained through regular physical training. Given that muscle tissue exhibits a higher metabolic activity than fat tissue, an increase in muscle mass results in a correspondingly higher BMR.

Can Exercise Increase Basal Metabolic Rate
Can Exercise Increase Basal Metabolic Rate?

Regular exercise, particularly resistance and high-intensity interval training, fosters the growth of lean muscle mass. This additional muscle tissue contributes to a higher energy expenditure at rest, thereby increasing the BMR. This exercise-induced augmentation in BMR is a key component of many weight management and fitness strategies.

How Does Genetics Play a Role in Basal Metabolic Rate?

Genetics substantially influences BMR, with specific genetic variants associated with varying metabolic rates. Certain genotypes confer a naturally higher BMR, while others predispose individuals to a lower BMR.

Studies have identified genes such as UCP1, UCP2, and UCP3, which encode for uncoupling proteins involved in energy metabolism and heat production. Variations in these genes may impact the BMR. Moreover, genes involved in thyroid hormone regulation, a crucial determinant of metabolic rate, can also influence BMR. It is crucial to note that the genetics of BMR is complex, involving the interplay of multiple genes and their interactions with environmental factors.

What are the Common Misconceptions About Basal Metabolic Rate?

A number of misconceptions often cloud the understanding of BMR. The three most common misconceptions are that overweight individuals posses a slower metabolism, drastic calorie restriction can boost weight loss by lowering BMR, and thin individuals have a faster metabolism.

  • Overweight individuals posses a slower metabolism: One common fallacy is that overweight individuals possess a slower metabolism. In reality, a larger body mass often equates to a higher BMR because the body requires more energy to sustain its functions.
  • Drastic calorie restriction can boost weight loss by lowering BMR: Another misconception is that drastic calorie restriction can boost weight loss by lowering BMR. However, severe caloric restriction can actually lead to a decreased BMR, as the body enters a state of ‘starvation mode’ and conserves energy.
  • Thin individuals have a faster metabolism: Many individuals misconstrue that thin individuals must have a fast metabolism. While it’s true that genetics can influence BMR and thus body weight, factors such as physical activity and diet play a critical role in determining an individual’s weight.

What is the Most Simple Exercise to Burn Calories?

Walking serves as the most simple and accessible exercise for burning calories. This low-impact, aerobic activity, when performed consistently, can contribute to weight loss and improved metabolic health. Furthermore, walking aids in the enhancement of cardiovascular health, improvement of mood, and strengthening of muscles and bones.

For individuals with weight loss objectives, combining a consistent walking regime with an understanding of BMR can yield effective results. Utilizing BMR allows for the determination of daily caloric needs, which can be balanced with the calories burnt during walking to achieve desired weight loss goals.

What is BMR According to Nutrition?

In the realm of nutrition, BMR holds a position of paramount importance. It represents the number of calories a body needs to perform its basic functions, excluding physical activities. As such, BMR serves as a baseline for determining an individual’s total caloric needs, which include physical activity and food processing in addition to the resting energy expenditure.

What is BMR According to Nutrition
What is BMR According to Nutrition?

Understanding BMR from a nutritional standpoint assists in planning an individual’s diet. It allows for the calculation of how many calories a person should consume to maintain, lose, or gain weight, depending on their specific goals. Moreover, knowledge of BMR aids in understanding the body’s energy needs, contributing to a more nuanced approach to nutritional planning.

How Many Calories Do I Burn Everyday?

The total calories burnt in a day are determined by the sum of one’s BMR, the calories burnt during physical activities (active calories), and the calories expended on digestion, also known as the thermic effect of food.

The BMR forms the majority of the total energy expenditure, accounting for about 60-75% of the daily caloric needs. Physical activity accounts for 15-30% of energy usage, while the thermic effect of food represents about 10% of total energy expenditure. To calculate the total calories burnt in a day, one needs to account for their BMR, the extent and intensity of their physical activities, and their dietary intake.

How Does BMR Relate to RMR?

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) are often used interchangeably, but they denote slightly different concepts. Both refer to the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions at rest. However, BMR is a more strict measurement taken under certain conditions, such as after a night’s sleep and in a controlled environment, while RMR is more practical and can be measured under less strict conditions.

Both BMR and RMR provide valuable insight into the body’s energy needs and can be used interchangeably in most scenarios for practical purposes. These metrics offer fundamental guidance for determining dietary needs and physical activity levels required to maintain, gain, or lose weight.

Is Basal Metabolic Rate Affected by Age?

Yes, BMR is affected by age. With advancing age, there tends to be a decrease in lean muscle mass and an increase in fat mass. Given that muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, this shift in body composition results in a decreased BMR.

Certain age-associated changes in hormone levels, such as reduced growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen levels, also contribute to a decline in BMR. Therefore, aging results in a lowered metabolic rate, necessitating adjustments in dietary intake and physical activity levels to maintain energy balance.

Can Dietary Choices Impact Basal Metabolic Rate?

Yes, dietary choices can indeed impact Basal Metabolic Rate. The consumption of certain foods can increase BMR due to the thermic effect of food (TEF), the energy required for digestion, absorption, and disposal of ingested nutrients. Protein-rich foods, for instance, have a higher TEF compared to fats and carbohydrates, leading to a slight increase in BMR.

Diets that are extremely low in calories can lead to a decrease in BMR. When calorie intake is drastically reduced, the body enters a ‘starvation mode’ in which it slows down metabolic processes to conserve energy, resulting in a lower BMR.

Can Medications Influence Basal Metabolic Rate?

Yes, certain medications can influence Basal Metabolic Rate. Some drugs, such as stimulants and certain thyroid medications, can increase BMR by boosting metabolic activity. Conversely, certain types of medication, such as beta-blockers, can decrease BMR by reducing heart rate and thus metabolic activity.

It is essential for individuals taking medications to consult their healthcare providers about potential effects on BMR, particularly if they are also implementing dietary changes or exercise routines to manage their weight or health conditions.

What is the Difference Between BMR and BMI?

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Body Mass Index (BMI) are separate yet interrelated metrics that provide valuable insights into an individual’s health and dietary needs. BMR, as discussed, represents the quantity of energy, measured in calories, that a person’s body requires to perform basic life-sustaining functions at rest. It is a fundamental determinant of an individual’s total daily energy expenditure and is influenced by factors such as age, sex, weight, height, and body composition.

Conversely, BMI is a numerical value derived from an individual’s weight and height. It is a broadly employed indicator of body fatness, and it helps classify individuals as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. However, BMI does not consider the distribution of muscle mass and fat, which can lead to misclassifications, particularly in the cases of athletes or individuals with high muscle mass.

While BMR aids in determining an individual’s energy requirements and planning their dietary intake accordingly, BMI provides a generalized picture of whether an individual might be at potential health risks associated with underweight or overweight status. Utilizing both metrics provides a more comprehensive understanding of one’s health status and informs individualized dietary and physical activity strategies.

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.