How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Nothing






Even when you’re at rest and seemingly doing nothing, your body is still expending energy to maintain its basic functions. This energy expenditure is known as the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), and it accounts for a significant portion of the calories you burn each day. In this article, we’ll explore what RMR is, how it’s calculated, and how many calories you can expect to burn while doing nothing.

What is Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)?

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), also sometimes referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), is the number of calories your body needs to maintain its essential functions while at rest. These functions include breathing, circulating blood, cell production and repair, and maintaining body temperature. In other words, RMR represents the energy required to keep your body alive and functioning.

Factors Affecting RMR

Your Resting Metabolic Rate is influenced by various factors, including:

Age: RMR tends to decrease with age. As you get older, your body typically requires fewer calories at rest.

Gender: Men often have a higher RMR than women because they typically have more muscle mass, which burns more calories at rest.

Body Composition: Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, so individuals with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio tend to have a higher RMR.

Genetics: Genetics play a role in your metabolism and can affect your RMR.

Hormones: Thyroid hormones, for example, can impact your metabolic rate.

Body Size: Larger individuals usually have a higher RMR because it takes more energy to maintain a larger body.

Calculating Your RMR

Several equations can estimate your Resting Metabolic Rate. One of the most commonly used formulas is the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation, which is based on your age, gender, weight, and height:

For men: RMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5

For women: RMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

You can use the result of this equation to estimate the number of calories your body needs at rest. However, keep in mind that these calculations provide an estimate, and individual variations can exist.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Nothing?

The number of calories you burn doing nothing is equivalent to your RMR. On average, RMR can range from 1,200 to 2,400 calories per day for most adults. However, these numbers are only estimates, and individual variations exist.

For instance:

A sedentary office worker who has a lower RMR (around 1,200-1,500 calories) might burn roughly 50-60 calories per hour while doing nothing.

An active individual with a higher RMR (around 1,800-2,400 calories) might burn around 75-100 calories per hour while at rest.

How to Use Your RMR in Daily Life

Understanding your RMR can be helpful for various reasons:

Weight Management: Your RMR provides a baseline for how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. By comparing your RMR to your daily calorie intake, you can make informed decisions about weight loss, maintenance, or gain.

Meal Planning: Knowing your RMR can help you plan your daily meals to meet your energy needs. Consuming fewer calories than your RMR can lead to weight loss, while consuming more can lead to weight gain.

Exercise Planning: Your RMR is a starting point for calculating the total number of calories you need daily, including the calories burned through physical activity. This information can help you create a well-balanced exercise routine.

Factors Beyond RMR

It’s important to note that your daily calorie expenditure goes beyond your RMR. The other components of daily energy expenditure include:

Physical Activity: The calories burned during exercise and daily activities. This can vary greatly depending on your activity level.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): The energy required to digest, absorb, and metabolize the food you eat. It accounts for a small percentage of daily calorie expenditure.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): The calories burned through spontaneous, non-exercise movements like fidgeting, standing, and walking. NEAT can vary significantly from person to person.

Exercise: The additional calories burned during planned exercise sessions.


While it might seem like you’re doing nothing, your body is continually working behind the scenes, burning calories to support its basic functions. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is a crucial component of your daily calorie expenditure, and understanding it can be valuable for managing your weight and planning your meals and exercise routines. Keep in mind that individual factors, including age, gender, body composition, and genetics, can influence your RMR, so it’s essential to consider these factors when determining your unique calorie needs.