The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy needed while resting in a moderate environment when the digestive system is inactive. It is the equivalent of figuring out how much gas an idle car consumes while parked. In such a state, energy will be used only to maintain vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin. For most people, upwards of ~70% of total energy (calories) burned each day is due to upkeep. Physical activity makes up ~20% of expenditure and ~10% is used for the digestion of food, also known as thermogenesis.
The BMR is measured under very restrictive circumstances while awake. An accurate BMR measurement requires that a person’s sympathetic nervous system is inactive, which means the person must be completely rested. Basal metabolism is usually the largest component of a person’s total caloric needs. The daily caloric need is the BMR value multiplied by a factor with a value between 1.2 and 1.9, depending on activity level.