Nutrition

Want To Know How Many Calories You Burn In A Day?

Whether you are trying to lose weight, build muscle or fuel sporting performance, getting your calorie intake is right is crucial to your progress. A number of factors will influence how many calories you expend and include your body weight, height, age and physical activity level. 

In order to calculate your daily calorie requirements, you should calculate how many calories your body expends when at rest or doing nothing. This is your resting metabolic rate or basal metabolic rate. Your BMR should then be multiplied by an activity factor which will depend of your lifestyle and training demands. The final factor when calculating your total energy expenditure is the thermic effect of food, which is the energy required to digest, absorb and metabolise your food. Let’s dive into each of these components and how they can help you figure out how many calories you burn in a day.

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Step 1: Calculate Your BMR

Your basal metabolic rate is the energy your body expends to keep your body and vital organs functioning properly.1 For most people it accounts for largest majority of total daily energy expenditure and ranges form 40-70% of TDEE depending on age and lifestyle.1

The easiest (and cheapest) way to calculate your BMR is to use an equation. How accurate each equation is for you specifically will depend on how closely you match the population that the equation was tested and validated in.2 For example, in highly active females, the Cunningham equation may be the most accurate but for highly active males, the Harris-Benedict equation may be more suitable.2 Certain equations (e.g. Cunningham) also require an estimation of your lean body mass. 

It is important to remember that calculating your calorie requirements is not an exact science and there is an element of trial and error.  

See below for an example of Mifflin. St. Jeor equation which has been shown to be one of the most accurate equations without the need for a lean body mass measurement3. 

10 * weight (kg) + 6.26* height (cm) – 5* age (years) + 5 

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Step 2: Calculate Your Activity Level

In order to calculate your total daily energy requirements, your BMR should be multiplied by a physical activity factor. This is the element of energy expenditure that will vary most between individuals and will range from 1.2 to 2+ depending on your lifestyle and training demands1. 

Here’s a table to give you an indication on which physical activity factor to choose4,5: 

 

Activity Level  Description  Physical Activity Factor 
Low    Sedentary lifestyle  1.2-1.55 
Moderate  Typical office work and occasionally active  1.55-1.71 
High   Some manual work and/or regular exercise  1.71-1.95 
Very High   Large amount of manual work and/or exercise  Above 1.95 

 

Step 3: Thermic Effect of Food

The thermic effect of food is another thing to consider when you account for energy expenditure. 

This is the energy it takes your body to digest, absorb and metabolise your food. Whilst certain foods have a greater effect on energy expenditure than others, it’s estimated the thermic effect of food accounts for 10% of total energy expenditure1. 

How Many Calories Do You Burn A Day?

Females:

Body Weight (kg)  

Sedentary 

(kcals) 

Moderately Active 

(kcals) 

Highly active 

(kcals) 

40  1430  1730  2040 
50  1570  1900  2240 
60  1700  2070  2440 
70  1850  2240  2640 
80  1990  2410  2840 
90  2130  2580  3040 

 

 

Males:

Body Weight  

(kg) 

Sedentary 

(kcals) 

Moderately active  

(kcals) 

Highly active (kcals) 
50  2000  2500  2950 
60  2200  2680  3150 
70  2340  2840  3350 
80  2480  3000  3550 
90  2620  3190  3750 
100  2760  3360  3950 

 

How Many Calories Do You Burn From Exercise?

Number of calories burned per 20 minutes of exercise in individuals with different body weights: 

Exercise  METS 

50kg 

(kcals) 

60kg 

(kcals) 

70kg 

(kcals) 

80kg 

kcals) 

90kg 

(kcals) 

cycling, light  6.8  119  143  167  190  214 
cycling, moderate  8  140  168  196  224  252 
cycling, vigorous  10  175  210  245  280  315 
cycling stationary, light  3.5  61  74  86  98  110 
cycling stationary, moderate  6.8  119  143  167  190  214 
cycling stationary, vigorous  8.8  154  185  216  246  277 
circuit, moderate  4.3  75  90  105  120  135 
circuit, vigorous  8  140  168  196  224  252 
cross trainer  5  88  105  123  140  158 
resistance training   5  88  105  123  140  158 
rowing, moderate  4.8  84  101  118  134  151 
rowing, vigorous  8.5  149  179  208  238  268 
running 6mph (10min/mile)  9.8  172  206  240  274  309 
running 7mph (8.5min/mile)  11.5  201  242  282  322  362 
running, 8mph (7min/mile)  11.8  207  248  289  330  372 
walking, 2.5mph  3  53  63  74  84  95 
walking, 4mph  5  88  105  123  140  158 
walking 5mph  8.3  145  174  203  232  261 

How Many Calories Do You Burn From Household Activities?

Number of calories burned per 20 minutes of activity in individuals with different body weights:

Exercise  METS 

50kg 

(kcals) 

60kg 

(kcals) 

70kg 

(kcals) 

80kg 

(kcals) 

90kg 

(kcals) 

Computer work  1.5  26  32  37  42  47 
Sitting in meetings  1.3  23  27  32  36  41 
Watching TV  1  18  21  25  28  32 
Cleaning  3.3  58  69  81  92  104 
Vacuuming   3.3  58  69  81  92  104 
Cooking  2.5  44  53  61  70  79 
Sitting  1.3  23  27  32  36  41 
Mowing lawn  5.5  96  116  135  154  173 
Sleeping  0.95  17  20  23  27  30 

 

 

Take Home Message

Your energy expenditure is made up of three main parts – your basal metabolic rate, physical activity level and the thermic effect of food. Without using expensive laboratory kit, calculating the exact number of calories expended can be difficult to get right with a number of factors affecting the accuracy of an estimation. 

Using the equations included will give you a rough idea of how many calories you require with physical activity being the biggest variable between individuals.

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Nutrition

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


  1.    Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/339317/SACN_Dietary_Reference_Values_for_Energy.pdf> [Accessed 25 February 2021] 
  2.   Jagim AR, Camic CL, Kisiolek J, Luedke J, Erickson J, Jones MT, Oliver JM. Accuracy of Resting Metabolic Rate Prediction Equations in Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Jul;32(7):1875-1881. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002111. PMID: 28682934. 
  3.   Frankenfield D, Roth-Yousey L, Compher C. Comparison of predictive equations for resting metabolic rate in healthy nonobese and obese adults: a systematic review. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 May;105(5):775-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.005. PMID: 1588355 
  4.   FAO/WHO/UNU: Energy and Protein Requirements. Report of a Joint Expert Consultation. World Health Organization Technical Report Series No 724 Geneva: WHO 1985. 
 
  5.   Watkinson, C., van Sluijs, E., Sutton, S., Marteau, T. and Griffin, S., 2010. Randomised controlled trial of the effects of physical activity feedback on awareness and behaviourin UK adults: the FAB study protocol [ISRCTN92551397]. BMC Public Health, 10(1).


Liam Agnew

Liam Agnew

Writer and expert

Liam is a certified sport nutritionist with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and is enrolled on the British Dietetics Association’s Sport and Exercise Nutrition register. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and is graduate of the ISSN Diploma in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

Liam is an experienced personal trainer, helping clients reach their health and fitness goals with practical, evidence informed exercise and nutrition advice. In his spare time Liam has competed in numerous powerlifting competitions and enjoys hill walking, football and expanding his recipe repertoire in the kitchen.

Find out more about Liam's experience here.


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