How many calories do we use just living?


When researching the post on exercise for weight loss, I came across this piece which showed why the hour a day or 3 times a week exercise regime that most of us are doing, isn’t doing much for our weight loss goals.

It’s partly to do with what happens for the rest of our 23 hours per day and also the fact that poor eating choices do far more damage than can be rectified by moderate exercise.

It has to be something like 90 mins of intense exercise daily to have any effect on your weight and many of us can’t keep that up – or like me, I don’t want to, it’s just not the life I want to lead.

So let’s check out this daily calorie usage just by living thing…

There was an example given in the article below (2) of how to calculate your resting metabolic rate. So this is just the calories you use just living and this is the formula:–

9.81 x your amount of non-fat mass + 370 calories per day

So using me as the example, let’s say I weigh 135 pounds (62 kg) and my percentage of body fat is 30% – I don’t actually know what it is but that’s what they say the average woman is, so that’s close enough for this exercise.

(135 x 0.70) x 9.81 + 370 = 1,297 calories

So just to stay alive I will expend 1,297 calories a day.

But wait there’s more!

10% is used up by the Thermic Effect of Food – number of calories used just digesting and absorbing your food. So add on 129.7 calories

10% is used up by Non Exercise Adaptive Thermogensis – this is calories used by things like fidgeting etc. Blitzed another 129.7 calories – whoo hoo!

And I’m not even out of bed yet!!!

Then I get to add another 10% for my daily routine. Add another 129.7 calories.

So before I even get anywhere near the walking track, running track, gym, boot camp or pull on my hot pink active wear, I have used up 1,686.10 calories.


“Adding exercise into the equation barely makes a dent in his overall caloric expenditure; most of the work is done before he puts on his running shoes.” (2)

So this is fantastic news for weight loss, however this is why the food component is so important here and I’m loathe to call it your diet because the word diet always conjures up feelings of starvation and deprivation, where as it’s just supposed to mean ‘what you eat.’

Popping up everywhere now I see little info graphics where they are showing how long you would have to exercise to burn off treats, for example:-

“…. To burn off an extra 500 calories is typically an extra two hours of cycling. And that’s about two doughnuts.” Dr Susan Jebb

 “For 2 cupcakes you’d need to run 5k”

 “You would have to walk for more than 45 minutes to burn off the 300 calories from eating just three cookies.”

So the myth of eating whatever I want or splurging because I can just burn it off, is totally busted. Well not totally – if you are prepared to do the 90 mins plus a day that is required depending on how many calories in your splurge. But note, this is to just burn it off to stay the same weight.

How many extra hours of exercise do you have to do to actually lose weight on this poor diet plan?

A comprehensive 2013 literature review by Amy Luke, a public health scholar at Loyola University of Chicago, concludes that “numerous trials have indicated that exercise plus calorie restriction achieves virtually the same result in weight loss as calorie restriction alone.”(1)

Or you could just alter your diet and exercise for fun.

So now you know! And while I wanted to elaborate more on how to rearrange your diet to achieve the weight loss without starvation, counting calories or the exercise, I will save it for another post.

Happy exercising for fun!


Kristy xxx

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One thought on “How many calories do we use just living?

  1. Pingback: 5 reasons why your weight loss program isn’t working… | slim birdy

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