How Many Calories A Day Do I Burn Doing Nothing?

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the most effective ways to lose weight.

How Many Calories A Day Do I Burn Doing Nothing?

However, it’s also true that you burn calories every day by simply existing.

Don’t be fooled, though – if you want to lose a few inches around your waistline, sitting around doing nothing isn’t going to get you there (at least not healthily). 

However, if your curiosity is getting the better of you, then stick with us to find out how many calories you burn each day, even when you do nothing. 

How Many Calories Can You Burn From Doing Nothing? 

If you’re expecting to see big numbers, you’re in for a disappointment.

It’s estimated that the average person burns between 70-100 calories from resting and being inactive.

However, if you’re standing up and doing nothing (or fidgeting on the spot), you may burn a few extra. 

You may be wondering – if you’re not physically exercising, then why do you burn calories?

Well, even when we’re not exerting ourselves, our bodies are still using energy to perform all those vital functions like breathing, for example.

Even when you’re resting, these processes require energy which, in turn, burns calories

Do You Burn Calories In Your Sleep? 

Believe it or not, you even burn calories in your sleep! When we sleep, our bodies tend to burn the most calories when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) phase.

This is because our bodies increase our glucose metabolism during REM, which speeds up the rate we burn calories at.

On average, humans burn around 50 calories per hour when sleeping. 

Calculating How Many Calories You Burn When Resting 

How Many Calories A Day Do I Burn Doing Nothing?

To calculate how many calories you burn when resting, try using this formula: MET x body weight in kg x 3.5). 

The term ‘MET’ describes a measurement of the amount of energy you use performing an activity for a specific time.

If you perform a task with a MET value of 1, this is roughly equivalent to sitting still and not digesting food. 

However, MET isn’t always accurate. MET values often don’t account for other various factors, including age, sex, the influence of environmental and geographical conditions, and more.

Therefore, if you’re sitting and resting, you may burn more or less calories than someone else performing the same task. 

There are many ways that we can ‘do nothing’, so let’s look at some figures below to establish what resting activities have what MET value and, in turn, how many calories they burn. 

Standing Or Fidgeting 

  • MET Value: 1.8 
  • Calories Burned: 129

Lying In Bed Awake, Slightly Moving

Lying Quietly And Not Moving 

  • MET Value: 1.3
  • Calories Burned: 93

Standing Quietly (e.g., in a queue) 

  • MET Value: 1.3 
  • Calories Burned: 93 

Sitting Quietly 

  • MET Value: 1.3
  • Calories Burned: 93 

Lying Silently And Watching TV

  • MET Value: 1
  • Calories Burned: 72


  • MET Value: 1
  • Calories Burned: 72


  • MET Value: 0.95
  • Calories Burned: 68

As you can see, more movement results in more calorie burn.

So, if you want to burn as many calories as possible (even when you’re doing nothing), you’ll need to be prepared to fidget to get you there. 

What Is Resting Metabolic Rate? 

Our resting metabolic rate also plays a big role in how many calories we burn when we do nothing. 

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), sometimes called ‘resting energy expenditure), is the rate at which our bodies can burn energy when they’re completely at rest.

This is slightly different from our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is defined as how many calories are burned when our bodies perform essential functions such as cell production, blood circulation, and breathing. 

The average Resting Metabolic Rate requirements vary between gender, with women requiring approximately 1400 calories while men require 1600 calories.

Other factors that can influence your Resting Metabolic Rate include: 

  • Age
  • Temperature 
  • Muscle Mass and Body Fat Percentage 
  • Thyroxine 

It’s important to understand the resting metabolic rate because it accounts for the largest amount of our energy needs.

If you have a higher RMR, you’ll usually burn more calories when you rest, and if you have a lower RMR, you’ll burn fewer calories.

This brings us to another important question… 

Can You Change Your Resting Metabolic Rate? 

If you want to burn more calories when resting, you’re probably wondering how, or if, you can change your resting metabolic rate. 

In short, yes, you can. If you can change your weight, you’ll see a shift in your resting metabolic rate, especially if you develop more muscle mass, which increases your RMR.

However, if you can change your weight or develop more muscle mass, you’re unlikely to see any changes in your RMR. 

Even if you do the work and influence your resting metabolic rate, you may not see huge changes.

However, you can still influence and change your metabolism, which can affect how many calories you burn each day

If you want to ‘speed up’ your metabolism, there are several things you can do, including: 

  • Ensuring you’re well rested and get a good night’s sleep
  • Do more heavy lifting
  • Engage in high-intensity workouts
  • Eat enough protein with each meal, which can temporarily boost your metabolic rate 
  • Drink green tea 
  • Drink enough water – being dehydrated can cause your metabolism to slow down 
  • Eat spicy foods, which contain natural chemicals that can boost your metabolism 
  • Drink black coffee (in moderation), which can create a short-term rise in your metabolic rate 
  • Avoid crash diets – these restrictive diets may help you lose weight quickly, but you’re likely to lose out on important nutrients and muscle, which will slow down your metabolism 

The Bottom Line 

Burning calories while doing nothing may sound too good to be true, but yes, it really is true!

However, don’t expect to burn as many as you would from a long run or a high-intensity workout at the gym.

Instead, you’ll simply be burning calories as your body performs essential functions, and this will not be enough to kick-start your weight loss journey.

Jenna Priestly