Do You Burn More Calories When Sick?

- Written By

DR Mahnoor Chaudhary , Pharmacist

Updated on

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts. Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument. This article contains scientific references. Read more about our process.

do you burn more calories when sick
70 / 100

Within this article, we shall delve into a range of inquiries concerning about do you burn more calories when sick? Also relationship between sickness and its potential influence on energy expenditure. Lets understand that whether being sick leads to caloric burn, if the body’s calorie-burning rate increases during illness, whether heightened caloric intake is necessary while unwell, and whether fever plays a role in calorie combustion.

Does being sick burn calories? 

The only thing that’s exciting being sick is burning out your calories. 

Sweating Out Calories Is The Hidden Perk of Fighting Illness!

By Dr Mahnoor Chaudhary

The specific effects of sickness can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, but generally, some common occurrences when you’re sick include:

  • PhysicalsSymptoms: such as fever, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, body aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, or skin rashes.
  • Weakness and fatigue: due to increased metabolic activity in fighting off infections or repairing damaged tissues.
  • Disrupted sleep pattern
  • Changes in appetite: they may have reduced hunger due to nausea or loss of taste/smell sensation associated with certain illnesses.
  • Emotional impact: causes irritability, mood swings, and anxiety.
Related Article: The 20 Best Ways To Burn Fat Fast

Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Before resolving the query of do you burn more calories when sick? Let’s understand the concept behind burning calories within our body. 

Many of you would have heard of basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body needs to accomplish its most basic (basal) life-sustaining functions.

Normally, BMR ranges between 1000-2000. It means that we need to take around 1000-2000 calories per day to keep our body functioning.

Several factors influence BMR, including age, weight, gender, and muscle mass.

  • Age: As we age, our metabolic rate tends to decrease due to natural physiological changes and a gradual loss of muscle mass, contributing to weight gain.
  • Weight: Generally, individuals with higher body weights tend to have higher BMRs because it takes more energy for their bodies to maintain larger frames. 
  • Gender: Men typically have a higher BMR compared to women due to greater muscle mass. Following a greater metabolic rate, men burn more calories than women.
  • Muscle mass: Individuals with a higher proportion of lean muscle mass will generally have a higher BMR since muscles contribute significantly towards calorie burning even when at rest.

People often ask, does your body burn more calories when sick?, as they are concerned about their elevated BMR and subsequently compromised health.

How illness affects calorie burning?

When you’re sick, your body’s metabolism can increase, leading to a higher calorie burn compared to when you are healthy. This is primarily a best explanation of relevant concerns of do you burn more calories when sick?

Increased calorie burning is due to the immune system working harder to fight off infections or heal damaged tissues. Additionally, certain illnesses may cause symptoms like fever or increased heart rate, which can further contribute to an elevated metabolic rate and increased calorie expenditure. However, it’s important to note that the extent of increased calorie burn during sickness varies depending on factors such as the severity of the illness and individual differences in metabolism.

Do you burn more calories when fighting infection?

Following the question do you burn more calories when sick?, arises the query regarding infection. 

During infection, our immune system activates and elicits an immune response in the form of various immune cells and chemical messengers to detect and combat foreign substances like pathogens or infections.

One significant effect of immune response on energy expenditure is the increase in metabolic activity. Activated body’s defence mechanisms upregulates cellular activities which require more energy in the form of calories to fight off infections. Moreover, inflammatory responses at the infection site need further energy to promote healing.

While this heightened energy expenditure during immune responses may lead to increased calorie burn temporarily, it should be noted that chronic or prolonged activation of the immune system can have negative effects on overall health and metabolism. It is essential to support your body’s immunity through proper nutrition, restorative sleep patterns, regular physical activity, and adequate hydration while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Related Article: A Surprising Discussion: Can Constipation Cause Chest Pain?

Does a fever burn calories? 

When we hear the word sickness, the first thing that comes to our mind is fever. Meanwhile, the first health concern that strikes us is does a fever burn calories?

Fever is a common symptom of many illnesses and can have an impact on calorie burning. When the body experiences a fever, it raises its internal temperature to fight off infections or other underlying causes. This increase in body temperature requires more energy expenditure from the body, leading to an elevated metabolic rate.

Plus, individuals with a fever often have decreased appetite, which can result in consuming fewer calories than usual. Additionally, the body’s heightened metabolic activity during a fever may contribute to burning more calories even at rest.

It’s also important to note that fevers can cause dehydration due to factors such as sweating or increased fluid loss through respiration. This fluid loss can further impact weight by temporarily reducing overall body water content.

How many calories does a fever burn?

It is hard to determine the exact no. of extra calories that are burnt during fever, but studies suggested it to be 20% more than the normal amount of calories burnt.

Let’s assume, there’s a 25 years old lady having a BMR of 1550 calories per day. During fever, this count may increase to an extra 310 calories burnt per day, which is 20% of 1550 calories. 

Common misconceptions about increased metabolism during illness

Now, let’s clear up a few misconceptions about increased metabolism during illness. Here are a few common misunderstandings:

Being sick means I’ll burn more calories, so it’s an easy way to lose weight!” 

While it’s true that certain illnesses can temporarily increase calorie burn due to factors like fever or heightened immune response, relying on being sick as a weight loss strategy is neither safe nor sustainable. It’s crucial to prioritise rest, hydration, and proper nutrition for recovery rather than intentionally seeking illness-induced weight loss.

Since my appetite decreases when I’m sick, I don’t need to eat much.” 

While decreased appetite during sickness is common, it doesn’t mean you should starve yourself. Your body still needs adequate nutrients to support the immune system and undergo faster recovery. Focus on consuming nutritious foods that are easily digestible and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Having a higher metabolic rate while sick means I can eat whatever I want without consequences.” 

Even if your metabolism increases during illness, it doesn’t give you a chance to indulge in unhealthy eating excessively. Nourishing your body with nutrient-rich foods will better support healing and overall well-being.

Related Article: 5 Causes Of An Uneven Rib Cage With Treatment

Nutritious foods that are easy on the stomach and help support recovery

Remember, taking care of yourself during illness involves providing your body with proper nutrition, sufficient fluids for hydration, and rest for recovery purposes—rather than using sickness as an opportunity for massive dietary changes or weight loss attempts.

Certainly! When you’re sick and looking for nutritious foods that are gentle on the stomach and can aid in recovery, here are some options to consider:

Foods Benefits
Chicken and vegetable soupProvides hydration and electrolytes.
BananasRich in nutrients (potassium) and fast acting carbs 
RiceProvides carbohydrates that give you energy
Ginger teaHelp soothe nausea and aid digestion.
YogurtContains beneficial probiotics, which provide health benefits.
Honey Honey has some antibacterial properties
Green leafy vegetablesFull of vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Oatmeal Provides calories, vitamins, and minerals you need when you’re sick.

The bottom line

Do you burn more calories when sick? has always been a dilemma. Studies conclude that when you’re sick, your body’s increased metabolic activity in response to fighting off infections or healing damaged tissues can lead to a higher calorie burn compared to when you are healthy. Factors such as fever, immune response, and inflammation during illness contribute to this heightened energy expenditure. However, it’s important to note that relying on being sick as a means for burning calories is not advisable or sustainable for long-term weight management.

While temporary increases in calorie burn may occur during sickness, prioritising rest, hydration, and proper nutrition should be the focus for supporting your body’s recovery. It is always recommended to seek appropriate medical care and listen to your healthcare provider’s guidance regarding managing illnesses and maintaining overall health.

How we reviewed this article

Trend Of Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy



18 thoughts on “Do You Burn More Calories When Sick?”

Leave a Comment