Basal metabolic rate: what is it and how to calculate

The basal metabolic rate, also known as basal energy expenditure, is the amount of energy that the body, at rest, spends to maintain its vital functions, such as breathing, heartbeat and maintaining body temperature.

Basal metabolic rate values ​​vary according to age, weight and sex, and are used to calculate the total amount of energy the body expends per day, being a tool to aid in dietary planning for people who wish to maintain the weight, gain weight or lose weight. See how to calculate diet calories to put on or lose weight.

Another way to calculate the basal metabolic rate is using a formula created by the World Health Organization, where the body weight is multiplied by a fixed value and then this result is added to another pre-defined value, according to sex and the age of the person.

How to Calculate Basal Metabolic Rate

The World Health Organization created a formula to estimate the basal metabolic rate according to age and sex, as explained in the following table:




0 to 3 years

(58.317 x weight in kg) – 31.1

(59.512 x weight in kg) – 30.4

3 to 10 years

(20,315 x weight in kg) + 485.9

(22.706 x weight in kg) + 504.3

10 to 18 years old

(13.384 x weight in kg) + 692.6

(17.686 x weight in kg) + 658.2

18 to 30 years old

(14.818 x weight in kg) + 486.6

(15.057 x weight in kg) + 692.2

30 to 60 years

(8.126 x weight in kg) + 845.6

(11,472 x weight in kg) + 873.1

≥ 60 years old

(9.082 x weight in kg) + 658.5

(11.711 x weight in kg) + 587.7

The calculation of the basal metabolic rate can also be done through a test called calorimetry, which calculates energy expenditure according to the carbon dioxide produced during breathing. With this method it is also possible to assess the influence of physical activity on the basal metabolic rate. However, this type of exam only exists in specialized laboratories and is not available to most people.

Example of Basal Metabolic Rate Calculation

The calculation of the basal metabolic rate for a 33 year old woman with 80 kg of body weight is (8,126 x Weight) + 845.6. Hence, this woman’s basal metabolic rate is 1495.68 calories.

Difference between basal metabolic rate and total caloric expenditure

Basal metabolic rate is a calculation used to estimate the amount of energy the body expends to maintain vital functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and brain function, without considering the energy that is expended on other activities throughout the day.

The total caloric expenditure is the result of a calculation where the basal metabolic rate is multiplied by the activity factor, which is the energy spent on activities such as cooking, working and exercising. The total caloric expenditure is used to estimate the amount of calories consumed per day, being used mainly in diets to maintain weight, gain weight or lose weight. Understand how to calculate total daily caloric expenditure.

How does basal metabolic rate affect weight?

The basal metabolic rate can influence body weight, as the lower the body’s energy expenditure at rest, the lower the expenditure of calories throughout the day, which can contribute to excess weight and obesity. On the other hand, the higher the basal metabolic rate, the greater the total caloric expenditure, helping to lose weight.

Some theories explain that the percentage of muscle mass and body fat can also influence the basal metabolic rate. People who are overweight when starting a diet and physical activity program tend to lose weight more easily than people of adequate weight. This is because the greater the weight, the greater the effort and energy expended by the body to maintain its basic functions, for example.

How to increase basal metabolic rate

To increase the basal metabolic rate, it is important to practice regular physical activities, including high intensity activities such as running or swimming and strength exercises such as weight training and HIIT, because these types of activities stimulate muscle mass gain and speed up breathing, stimulating energy expenditure at rest and facilitating weight loss.

In addition, maintaining a balanced diet, prioritizing vegetables, fruits, water, proteins, healthy fats and foods with thermogenic properties, such as cinnamon and green tea, also help to increase the basal metabolism rate, stimulating caloric expenditure and promoting the loss of energy. Weight. Discover other tips to increase your basal metabolism.

Is it possible to lower the basal metabolism rate?

Not practicing or practicing little physical activity is one of the factors that can decrease the basal metabolism rate. In addition, stress can increase the production of cortisol, a hormone that, in excess, decreases muscle mass, reducing basal metabolism.

Going without eating for many hours throughout the day can lead to hormonal changes that cause the body to reduce its basal metabolism rate to save energy, promoting weight gain. However, weight gain in this situation is usually due to an increase in body fat, which can lead to obesity, liver fat and cardiovascular problems.

It is important to remember that not eating for a few hours a day is not considered intermittent fasting, which is a diet where you should not eat solid foods for at least 16 hours and that increases your metabolism. See when it’s indicated and how to do intermittent fasting.

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