Journal of Applied Physiology

Resting metabolic rate is lower in women than in men

P. J. Arciero, M. I. Goran, E. T. Poehlman


This study examined gender differences in resting metabolic rate (RMR) across a broad age spectrum after controlling for differences in body composition and aerobic fitness. Three hundred twenty-eight healthy men (17–80 yr) and 194 women (18–81 yr) volunteers were characterized for RMR, body composition, physical activity, peak oxygen consumption (peak VO2), anthropometrics, and energy intake. Measured RMR was 23% higher (P < 0.01) in men (1,740 +/- 194 kcal/day) than in women (1,348 +/- 125 kcal/day). Multiple regression analysis showed that 84% of individual variation in RMR was explained by fat-free mass, fat mass, peak VO2, and gender. After controlling for differences in fat-free mass, fat mass, and peak VO2, a lower RMR (3%; P < 0.01) persisted in women (1,563 +/- 153 kcal/day) compared with men (1,613 +/- 127 kcal/day). Adjusted RMR in premenopausal (P < 0.01) and postmenopausal (P < 0.05) women was lower than in men of a similar age. Our results support a lower RMR in women than in men that is independent of differences in body composition and aerobic fitness.