What Is the Formula to Calculate BMR?

Reviewed on 2/4/2021

The formula for basal metabolic rate (BMR) is different for men and women
The formula for basal metabolic rate (BMR) is different for men and women

The formula for basal metabolic rate (BMR) is different for men and women:

Harris-Benedict formula:

Male BMR formula:

  • 66 + (6.23 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) − (6.8 × age in years)

Example:

  • If you're 170 lbs, 5'11", and 43 years, your BMR is 66 + (6.23 × 170) + (12.7 × 71) − (6.8 × 43) = 1,734.4 calories.

Female BMR formula:

  • 655 + (4.35 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 × height in inches) − (4.7 × age in years)

Example:

  • If you're 130 lbs, 5'3", and 36 years, your BMR is 665 + (4.35 × 130) + (4.7 × 63) − (4.7 × 36) = 1,357.4 calories.

Some people also use the Mifflin-St Jeor formula to calculate their BMR:

  • Male BMR = (9.99 × weight [kg]) + (6.25 × height [cm]) − (4.92 × age [years]) + 5
  • Female BMR = (9.99 × weight [kg]) + (6.25 × height [cm]) − (4.92 × age [years]) − 161

For ease of calculation, many online BMR calculators are available that can be used for your BMR reading.

Explanation: BMR is the number of calories you burn when your body is resting. In other words, it's the number of calories your body needs to keep you going. BMR is a hypothetical estimate of the amount of energy your body burns to maintain essential physiological functions.

  • People use BMR and other metrics to figure out how many calories they burn per day regardless of what they do.
  • By knowing this number, they can factor in their workouts or activity and figure out how many calories they need per day to meet their weight loss goals.
  • Your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to perform your body’s basal (most basic) functions such as breathing and cell production.
  • Even at rest, your body needs energy for all of its “hidden” functions such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body needs to perform these basic functions is known as your BMR. In fact, 60-75% of your daily calories are burned during these processes.
  • People debate about how best to calculate BMR, but the formulas all consist of some essential elements:
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Weight
    • Height
    • Activity
    • Body fat (optional)

Once BMR is determined with the above formula, the following table will help you calculate your recommended daily intake to maintain your current weight. Daily kilocalories needed:

  • Little to no exercise: BMR × 1.2
  • Light exercise (1-3 days per week): BMR × 1.375
  • Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week): BMR × 1.55
  • Heavy exercise (6-7 days per week): BMR × 1.725
  • Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts): BMR × 2

Depending upon the above calculation:

  • If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less energy than you burn over time.
  • If you want to gain weight, you need to eat slightly more energy than you burn over time.
  • If you want to maintain your current weight, you need to eat more or less the same amount of energy you burn over time.

How can I increase my BMR?

Everyone’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) is different. Age, gender, size, height, weight, mass, and even the size of your internal organs (larger organs need more fuel) play a part in determining your number. There’s not much you can do to control your genetics, but you can influence your body composition with a few simple changes:

  • Build muscle: The best way to increase your BMR is to build muscle. Lean muscle mass torches more calories than fat and pumps up your metabolism. Functional training will help you build muscle more than regular workouts; the latter can be limited in terms of movements.
  • Don’t cut calories: Another way to increase BMR is to eat the right number of calories. That means no semi-starved states and low BMR that comes with it. Men need to consume around 2,500 calories, and women need to consume 2,000 calories daily, according to the National Health Service (NHS). Munch on BMR-boosting foods such as hot peppers, green tea, broccoli, spices, citrus fruits, and cacao.
  • Minimize stress: Stress is another huge contributor to low metabolism. A heightened rush of cortisol (the stress hormone) will send your body into “fight or flight” mode. This messes up your system in the long term by making you feel tired, feel irritable, and have hunger pangs and unhealthy cravings.

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References
Calculating the basal metabolic rate and severe and morbid obesity: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11817239/

https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/articles/health/bmr-formula.php

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