Exercise and fitness your way

How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Nothing?

how many calories do you burn doing nothing

How many calories do you burn doing nothing? About 50 to 80 calories per hour. This, of course, can vary depending on a few factors such as your height, weight, sex, and age.

Even when you are fast asleep, your body will burn calories to keep you alive and perform vital functions. Let’s take a closer look at how many calories you can burn even when you’re doing nothing.

How many calories do you burn doing nothing?

The average person burns around 1800 to 2300 calories a day doing nothing. The reason for this it takes energy to keep you alive and healthy. For example, your brain alone uses about 20 to 25% of your daily energy requirements, not to mention the energy required to keep your heart beating and lungs breathing. The rate at which your body burns calories while at rest is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate. 

What is your basal metabolic rate (BMR)?

The amount of calories you burn when resting as your body performs essential life-supporting functions is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It is also known as the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), which translates to the calories your body burns while at rest.

Your BMR makes up most of the calories you burn daily, accounting for about 60-70% of the calories you expend in a day. The calories are lost as your body uses energy to maintain essential functions such as:

  • Respiration
  • Cardiovascular functions
  • Cell production
  • Nutrient processing
  • Blood circulation
  • Body temperature
  • Cognitive functions

Factors that influence your metabolic rate

You’ve probably heard people blame their weight on their slow metabolism. Well, they are not entirely wrong. Although we all have a metabolism rate that allows our bodies to burn calories without exercising and this varies from person to person. 

The following factors influence your metabolism rate and the number of calories you lose in a day. 

Weight and height

Body size plays a big part in influencing your metabolism rate. People with large body sizes have a higher metabolic rate as they need more energy to maintain their body functions. Therefore, if you are tall or weigh more, you are likely to burn more calories than an average-sized person.


The body mass and composition differences between men and women mirror their different metabolic rates. Since men have more natural muscles than women, their bodies burn more calories. Consequently, in general, men have a higher metabolic rate than women.


The older you get, the fewer calories your body burns to perform essential functions. The low metabolic rate is also attributed to muscle loss and the altered hormonal processes that come with age. 

Younger people tend to have a high metabolic rate since they need to burn a lot of calories to create sufficient energy for growth. They also have more muscle mass and are generally more active. 

Body composition

Body composition refers to the amount of muscle and body fat you have. Fat cells are sluggish and burn fewer calories, while muscle tissue burns calories rapidly. 

Therefore, if your body has more muscle tissue than fat, you have a higher metabolic rate than if you have more body fat.

Other factors that affect the number of calories burned in a day

Apart from the above physiological elements, other factors influence your metabolic rate and how many calories a day you need to consume. These include the following:

Your activity levels

Physical activity accounts for a huge chunk of the calories you burn when you are not resting. Moving around and performing tasks takes energy which requires your body to burn calories. The more physical activities you indulge in, the more calories you burn.

Therefore, active people are more likely to burn more calories than people who do nothing all day.

Internal and external temperature

Your body and environmental temperature are essential factors that substantially impact the calories your body burns. When your body temperature is high, you lose more calories as your cardiovascular system works harder to pump blood to your muscles. 

Similarly, external temperature affects your metabolic rate. When you are in a cold environment, your body’s metabolic rate increases and burns more calories to produce energy to keep its temperature up.

How to calculate calories burned doing nothing

The average person burns around 50 to 80 calories an hour when they do nothing. Nonetheless, if you are watching your weight, you may want to have an exact number of calories you burn to keep track of the figures.

Ideally, calculating your exact BMR uses indirect calorimetry, which evaluates oxygen and carbon dioxide quantities in your breath. The measurement is taken after you take a 12-hour fast, 24-hour rest, and an extra eight hours of sleep under observations in a lab. 

Alternatively, you could use the calories burned sleeping calculator, which is more straightforward. All you need is to key in your weight, height, sex, and age to estimate the number of calories you’ve burned doing nothing. 

Since sleeping equates to being dormant, the calculator will give you the number of calories you’ve burned for the hours you’ve done nothing.

How to burn more calories doing nothing

Now that we have established you burn calories doing nothing, you may wonder whether you can increase the number of calories your burn while doing nothing. Yes, you can, here are a few ways to achieve this:

Build muscle with strength training

People with greater muscle mass and lower body fat have high metabolic rates since muscles burn calories rapidly. Therefore, if you want to burn more calories doing nothing, you should build your muscles.

Strength training is ideal for building muscle mass and eliminating body fat. If you can’t get to the gym or don’t have a home gym, then bodyweight exercises can be as effective. Regular push-ups and pull-ups will build your upper body, and exercises such as squats and lunges will build lower body strength. 

Make exercise a part of your daily routine

If you’re serious about watching your weight and burning more calories while doing nothing, increase your activity levels. Make at least 30 minutes of exercise part of your daily routine. This will add up over time and when doing nothing, you will have naturally burned more calories for the week.

You don’t have to engage in rigorous exercise every day. Simple activities such as taking the stairs, regular walks, and cycling will increase the number of calories your body burns daily. Of course, a hard workout will also build muscle strength which in turn will increase your metabolism so we recommend aiming to have a good workout at least two to three times a week.

Increase your daily activity levels

Simply increasing your daily activity levels will also burn more calories. For example, instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs. If you are in a safe neighborhood and can walk to the store, do so. Not only will you burn calories, but you’ll also save gas on your car and most likely feel great after a walk. 

Small changes will add up over time, resulting in more calories burned. 

Eat more protein

The thermic effect of food (TEF) is the number of calories that your body burns to digest food. Some foods require more energy to digest than others and protein requires the most calories to digest. Not only this but studies have also found that protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Adding more protein to your diet is also useful if you’d like to build muscle. 

Eating more protein will require more energy to digest and you’ll also most likely eat fewer calories as you feel hungry so quickly. 

Get more sleep

Not only does your body burn calories when you sleep but a lack of sleep can make you eat more. 

If you’ve worked late into the night or had a few nights of disrupted sleep, you’ll know that you tend to eat more. The reason for this is that the hormone that helps control whether we feel hungry or not is called ghrelin. When ghrelin levels are high, you’ll feel hungry. Once you’ve eaten the levels of the “hunger hormone” drop and you no longer feel hungry. A lack of sleep can cause an increase in ghrelin levels which will make you feel hungrier than usual. As a result, you’ll end up eating more than you need. 

Getting a good night’s sleep will not only burn calories while doing nothing but also help keep this hormone in check. 


  • How many calories do you burn doing nothing? Between 50 to 80 calories an hour which equates to 1,200 to 1,800 per day. 
  • Your weight, height, gender, age, and body composition affect your metabolic rate.
  • Your activity levels and environmental temperature determine how many calories you burn as you rest.
  • The best way to increase your metabolic rate is by exercising regularly, eating right, and getting sufficient rest.
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