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How many calories do you naturally burn in a day?

The number of calories you burn each day depends on several factors like your basal metabolic rate (BMR), activity level, body composition, and more. Your BMR is the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform essential functions like breathing, circulating blood, etc. This accounts for 50-70% of the calories you burn daily. The more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn through exercise and general movement. Muscle tissue also burns more calories than fat tissue at rest, so people with more muscle mass have higher metabolic rates. On average, men naturally burn around 2,500 calories per day, while women burn around 2,000. However, this can range from 1,600 to over 3,000 calories per day depending on the above factors.

What factors affect how many calories you burn?

The main factors that determine how many calories you burn each day are:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – Your BMR accounts for 50-70% of your daily calorie burn. It’s determined by your genetics, age, sex, and body composition.
  • Activity level – The more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn through exercise and general movement throughout the day.
  • Muscle mass – Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat at rest, so more muscle mass equals a higher metabolic rate.
  • Age – Metabolism slows as you get older, lowering calorie needs.
  • Sex – Men typically have less body fat and more muscle mass than women, so they burn more calories at rest.
  • Height/weight – Larger individuals need more calories just to sustain basic functions.
  • Diet induced thermogenesis – The thermic effect of food accounts for ~10% of daily calorie burn. Protein has the highest effect.
  • Hormones – Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and calorie burn.
  • Genetics – Up to 40% of BMR differences are due to genetics rather than lifestyle.

How many calories does the average person burn per day?

On average, the typical calorie burn per day for men and women is:

  • Men
    • Sedentary (little/no exercise): 2,000 – 2,600 calories
    • Moderately active (light exercise 1-3 days/week): 2,200 – 2,800 calories
    • Active (exercise 3-5 days/week): 2,400 – 3,000 calories
    • Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days/week): 2,800 – 3,600 calories
  • Women
    • Sedentary: 1,600 – 2,200 calories
    • Moderately active: 1,800 – 2,400 calories
    • Active: 2,000 – 2,600 calories
    • Very active: 2,400 – 3,000 calories

These estimates are for adults ages 19-30. Older adults tend to burn fewer calories. Children and teenagers have higher calorie needs for growth and development.

What is basal metabolic rate (BMR)?

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum number of calories your organs need to perform essential, life-sustaining processes like:

  • Breathing
  • Circulating blood
  • Repairing cells
  • Maintaining cell temperature
  • Breaking down food

It makes up 50-70% of the calories you burn each day. BMR is determined mostly by factors like:

  • Age – BMR decreases by 1-2% per decade after age 20.
  • Sex – Men tend to have more muscle and less fat than women, burning more calories at rest.
  • Height/Weight – Larger bodies need more calories for maintenance.
  • Body composition – Muscle burns more calories than fat.
  • Genetics – Up to 40% of BMR differences are inherited.

Average BMR based on age and sex:

Age Group Men Women
19-30 years 1,600-1,800 calories 1,400-1,500 calories
31-50 years 1,500-1,700 calories 1,300-1,400 calories
50+ years 1,400-1,600 calories 1,200-1,300 calories

How many calories do you burn through activity?

Physical activity makes up 20-40% of your daily calorie expenditure. Exercise burns calories through:

  • Planned workouts like running, lifting weights, sports, etc.
  • NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – Calorie burn through daily movement like walking, fidgeting, household chores, etc.

Calories burned during exercise depends on:

  • Intensity – Higher intensity burns more calories per minute.
  • Duration – Longer workouts burn more calories overall.
  • Weight – Heavier people burn more calories for the same exercise.
  • Muscle mass – More muscle fibers require more energy.

Approximate calories burned per hour of exercise:

Activity 125 lb (57 kg) Person 155 lb (70 kg) Person 185 lb (84 kg) Person
Walking (2 mph) 200 244 288
Light cycling (10-12 mph) 290 354 418
Moderate cycling (12-14 mph) 412 503 594
Jogging/running (5 mph) 422 513 604
Swimming laps (moderate pace) 423 514 606
HIIT or circuit training 450-750 550-920 650-1,100

How many calories do you burn sleeping and at rest?

Your basal metabolic rate accounts for 50-70% of calories burned at rest. Additional calories are burned through:

  • Digesting and absorbing nutrients (diet-induced thermogenesis)
  • Maintaining posture and muscle tension
  • Circulating blood and nutrients to tissues
  • Maintaining body temperature

Calories burned while sleeping and resting:

  • Women – 65 calories/hour
  • Men – 80 calories/hour

So someone with a BMR of 1,500 calories would burn around 1,140 calories during 8 hours of sleep.


The calories you burn each day varies based on your basal metabolic rate, activity levels, body size, muscle mass, age, genetics, and more. On average, adult men burn around 2,500 calories per day, while adult women burn 2,000. But this calorie burn can range from 1,600 to over 3,000 calories depending on your unique factors.

To maintain a healthy weight and metabolism, it’s important to balance your calorie intake with your calorie burn through a combination of diet and regular exercise.