What is Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)?

3 mins read
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Written by:
The BodySpec Team

Have you ever wondered how many calories your body burns while simply resting? Let's dive into a fascinating topic: the resting metabolic rate, or RMR. This critical biological process is responsible for maintaining life by consuming energy, even during periods of inactivity.

When you think of RMR, picture your body as an engine that never stops running. The fuel it requires for basic functions is obtained through the calories you consume. Breathing, circulation, and even the process of thinking are all powered by this essential energy source. So, it's no surprise that RMR forms the foundation of your body's total energy expenditure.

Interestingly, your RMR varies from that of others. Factors such as age, sex, body composition, and genetics all come into play. A younger individual with more muscle mass will typically have a higher RMR than an older person with less muscle. Hormonal changes can also influence RMR, as can certain medical conditions.

In the quest for optimal health and fitness, understanding your RMR is key. This crucial knowledge allows you to tailor your nutrition and exercise routines to best support your body's needs. Moreover, a grasp of RMR can help with weight management, as you'll know how many calories your body burns each day at rest. Now that we've delved into the concept of RMR, let's explore the parameters of a normal resting metabolic rate.

What is a Normal RMR?

Before we examine what constitutes a normal RMR, it's important to note that "normal" can be a subjective term. While averages exist, RMRs differ widely between individuals due to various factors like age, sex, and body composition. However, to help you better understand the concept, we'll provide you with some general guidelines.

A normal RMR, expressed in calories per day, can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict Equation. This widely-used formula takes into account age, sex, height, and weight to estimate resting energy expenditure. However, it's essential to remember that these values are only estimates and should not be treated as absolute.

Here's a quick look at some general RMR ranges for different age groups and sexes:

  • Males, 18-29 years old: 1,800 - 2,500 calories per day
  • Males, 30-59 years old: 1,600 - 2,300 calories per day
  • Males, 60+ years old: 1,400 - 2,100 calories per day
  • Females, 18-29 years old: 1,400 - 2,100 calories per day
  • Females, 30-59 years old: 1,300 - 2,000 calories per day
  • Females, 60+ years old: 1,200 - 1,900 calories per day

How is RMR Tested?

There are various methods available for testing RMR. One accurate and reliable approach is a DEXA scan, short for Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. This technology was initially designed to measure bone density, but it has since evolved to assess body composition, including muscle and fat mass. By evaluating these factors, a DEXA scan can provide an accurate RMR measurement.

Do BodySpec Scans Show You an RMR?

Absolutely! BodySpec, a company specializing in DEXA scans, offers a comprehensive assessment of your body composition, including an accurate RMR. These scans are non-invasive and relatively quick, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a thorough understanding of their body's unique needs. By analyzing your RMR with BodySpec's DEXA scan, you can make informed decisions.


Frankenfield, D., Roth-Yousey, L., & Compher, C. (2005). Comparison of predictive equations for resting metabolic rate in healthy nonobese and obese adults: a systematic review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 775-789. https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(05)00118-5/fulltext

Harris, J. A., & Benedict, F. G. (1918). A biometric study of human basal metabolism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 4(12), 370-373. https://www.pnas.org/content/4/12/370

Mifflin, M. D., St Jeor, S. T., Hill, L. A., Scott, B. J., Daugherty, S. A., & Koh, Y. O. (1990). A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 51(2), 241-247. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/51/2/241/4695349

Johnstone, A. M., Murison, S. D., Duncan, J. S., Rance, K. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2005). Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(5), 941-948. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/5/941/4607521

Kyle, U. G., Bosaeus, I., De Lorenzo, A. D., Deurenberg, P., Elia, M., Gómez, J. M., ... & Scharfetter, H. (2004). Bioelectrical impedance analysis—part I: review of principles and methods. Clinical Nutrition, 23(5), 1226-1243. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561404001186

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