Calculate Your Basal Metabolic Rate

Use this calculator to understand how BMR affects your weight

Knowing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) helps you determine the estimated baseline amount of calories your body needs to function and serves as a starting point to determine how many calories you may want to consume based on your goals.

Generally speaking, your BMR—which is sometimes referred to as resting metabolic rate—is the total number of calories your body needs to perform essential, life-sustaining functions. These basal functions include circulation, breathing, cell production, nutrient processing, protein synthesis, and ion transport. Using a mathematical formula, you can determine your BMR. Below, learn more about basal metabolic rate and how it applies to you.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?

Basal metabolic rate measures the calories needed to perform your body's most basic (basal) functions, like breathing, circulation, and cell production. BMR is most accurately measured in a lab setting under very restrictive conditions. 

What Is Resting Metabolic Rate?

Some experts interchange the terms basal metabolic rate (BMR) and resting metabolic rate (RMR). These two terms are very similar. But there is a slight difference in the definition of BMR and the definition of RMR that is useful to understand.

RMR is a measurement of the number of calories that your body burns at rest. This rate is usually measured in the morning after a full night of restful sleep and before you eat or exercise.

As you can see, the definitions of RMR and BMR are almost identical. Your resting metabolic rate should accurately estimate your basal metabolic rate. Because the terms are similar, some fitness and weight loss experts use both terms to describe the same thing. But the term "resting metabolic rate" is more common.

How to Calculate Your BMR

If you are looking to reach or maintain a particular weight, you may find it helpful to have a BMR calculation. You can find the number using a formula designed by scientists, get it tested in a lab, or you can use an online calculator. No method is perfectly accurate, but a lab test will probably give you the best estimate.

Because lab tests can be costly, many people use one of the other two methods to determine basal metabolic rate and/or the total number of calories they burn each day.

Equation to Calculate Your BMR

The Harris-Benedict Equation is often used to estimate basal metabolic rate.

  • Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)
  • Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)

Online BMR Calculator

Put your height, weight, and age into our online calculator to find your basal metabolic rate with the addition of daily activity. The calculator provides an estimate of the total number of calories you burn daily.

How to Use BMR to Lose Weight

Once you understand BMR and get a reasonable estimate of your number, you can use it to help you reach or maintain a balanced weight. First, you can try to increase your basal metabolic rate; then, you can increase the total number of calories you burn each day to help you reach your goal.

Change Your BMR

A combination of factors determines your basal metabolic rate. Genetic factors, age, sex, and body composition play a role. There's not much you can do to control genetics, age, or sex. But you can change your body's fat-to-muscle ratio to boost your metabolism.

One way to change your body composition is to build muscle. Even when your body is at rest, lean muscle mass will burn more calories than fat. And you don't even have to be a bodybuilder to see the benefits. Studies show that you may increase your resting metabolic rate with resistance training by around 5%.

Increase Daily Calorie Expenditure

The total number of calories you burn daily heavily depends on your basal metabolic rate. But you can also burn more calories each day by making changes to your eating plan and activity level. Your basal metabolic rate and two other factors can give you an idea of the total number of calories you burn each day. 

  • Basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60%-75% of total calories burned daily. Increase muscle mass to burn more calories.
  • Activity thermogenesis: (non-exercise movement and exercise) accounts for about 15%-30% of total calories burned daily. Increase daily movement to burn more calories.
  • Thermic effect of food: (calories burned from eating and digestion) accounts for about 10% of total calories burned each day. Choose healthy protein-rich foods to make a slight difference.

If you can burn more calories than you consume, you will create a calorie deficit or negative energy balance. If you burn fewer calories than you consume, you will create a positive energy balance and gain weight.

A Word From Verywell

Learning about your basal metabolic rate and the total number of calories you burn daily is a positive step in reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. The more you know, the easier it is to make changes in your life that produce actual results.

It is also important to talk to a healthcare provider, like a registered dietitian, to determine what is right for you. They can evaluate your medical history and nutrition goals and help you develop a plan that is right for you.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How you burn calories

  2. Aristizabal JC, Freidenreich DJ, Volk BM, et al. Effect of resistance training on resting metabolic rate and its estimation by a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry metabolic map. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015;69(7):831-836. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.216

  3. Pethusamy K, Gupta A, Yadav R. Basal metabolic rate(Bmr). In: Vonk J, Shackelford T, edsEncyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer International Publishing; 2019:1-3. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1429-1

  4. Ravn AM, Gregersen NT, Christensen R, et al. Thermic effect of a meal and appetite in adults: An individual participant data meta-analysis of meal-test trialsFood Nutr Res. 2013;57:10.3402/fnr.v57i0.19676. Published 2013 Dec 23. doi:10.3402/fnr.v57i0.19676

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.