Basal metabolic rate

Even when you are at complete rest, your body is still working to maintain those vital functions that are necessary. The basal metabolic rate is the minimum amount of energy your body needs to survive by performing these basic functions, such as breathing, blinking, filtering blood, regulating temperature or synthesizing hormones.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy, per unit time, at rest, that a person needs to maintain body function. Some of the metabolic processes it regulates are respiration, blood circulation, body temperature control, cell growth, nerve function and muscle contraction.

This basal metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of the daily caloric expenditure of individuals. It is influenced by several factors such as lean body mass index (body weight without taking into account fat mass), presence of acute diseases and other conditions such as burns, fractures, infections, fever, etc. In women of childbearing age, BMR varies during the menstrual cycle mainly due to the effects of progesterone. In addition, diet and physical exercise can also have an impact on BMR. It has been shown that a decrease in food intake can reduce metabolic rate because the body tries to conserve energy (restrictive diets of less than 800 kcal per day have been quantified to decrease BMR by up to 10%). Metabolism also varies with physical condition and activity so that strength training can increase BMR.

Its proper measurement requires that a strict set of criteria be met, including a state of physical and psychological tranquility and temperature-neutral environments.

Basal metabolic rate is a trait whose variability depends on several factors, including the genetic component. A genome-wide association study of more than 350,000 people of European ancestry has identified 722 markers associated with this trait. Among the genes that most affect this trait we can find typical genes such as FTO and MC4R, as well as the GDF5 gene, which produces a protein in the central nervous system, affecting skeletal and joint development, as well as intervening in the survival of neurons that respond to dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in the development of the brain's reward system.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of loci analyzed in the study

722 loci


UK Biobank Database. Basal metabolic rate, Data-Field 23105 [Version Jan-2022]

McMurray RG, Soares J, Caspersen CJ, McCurdy T. Examining variations of resting metabolic rate of adults: a public health perspective. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Jul;46(7):1352-8.

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