Difference Between Active and Total Calories (With Table)

Every activity we undertake necessitates the expenditure of energy by our bodies to complete the task. Every activity, whether it’s walking, standing, or simply relaxing in the lounge, requires energy. The food that we eat provides us with energy, which we then expend in a variety of ways.

The body saves a portion of the energy for later use. To quantify the amount of energy expended, we use a calorie unit to determine how much we spend on a particular process. These calories are obtained from the food we consume.

Calories are divided into two categories based on the activity we engage in and the normal functioning of our bodies. The first is active calories, while the second is total calories.

Active vs Total Calories

The main difference between active and passive calories is that active calories account for all energy expended during physical activities such as jogging, swimming, and running. On the other hand, total calories provide an individual with a number representing the quantity of energy expended by our body for any and all activities.

Difference Between Active and Total Calories

Active calories are the calories burned by the body while we engage in any type of external work. The task may be as simple as walking or climbing stairs, or it could be more complicated, such as lifting weights. The total caloric intake by the body for its own routine functions is the total amount of active calories as well as other calories consumed.

Total calories are the number of calories consumed during the daily functions of the body. Respiration, food digestion, and thinking are examples of routine functions. Our bodies perform certain functions throughout the day, such as breathing and delivering energy to all body parts. The calories consumed during these activities are added to the total calories, which is the unique aspect of it.

Comparison Table Between Active and Total Calories

Parameters of ComparisonActive CaloriesTotal Calories
MeaningIt is the energy that our bodies use to carry out the physical exercise that we do on a daily basis. It represents the total amount of energy expended by the body for any and all physical and regular functions.
UnderstandingIt’s one of the most crucial aspects of losing weight and maintenance. It’s one of the most crucial aspects of losing weight and maintenance. It represents the amount of energy we expend on daily tasks.
Activities falling under the categoryAn individual is responsible for all physical labor. Running, jogging, swimming, and other activities are examples. Respiration, thinking, digestion, and other bodily functions
Measurement unitJoulesJoules
Calculation= calories burnt during physical labor.= active calorie + basal (relaxing) calories.

What is Active Calorie?

Active calories refer to the energy used by our bodies to perform various physical activities that we do on a daily basis. Let’s pretend we need to choose an object. As a result, our hands use energy to select a specific object. The energy expended in this process is classified as active calories.

Similarly, the energy consumed by an individual for all physical exercise falls under the category of active calories. A calorie is a unit of measurement for the amount of energy expended during a specific process. 4.184 joules is equal to one calorie. Calories are obtained by the body from the food we consume.

The calorie content of different foods varies. Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice, potatoes, and whole grains, are high in calories. Chicken Protein-rich foods such as chicken, meat, and pork are also calorie-dense. The body eventually breaks down all of these carbohydrates and proteins, and the resulting energy is distributed throughout the body.

The energy is consumed in accordance with the requirements. Whenever the body is performing a physical task, muscles require energy. In a nutshell, active calories account for all energy expended by the body during physical activities. There are devices that assist in calculating active calories. Smart wristbands, for example, can evaluate both active as well as total calories.

What is Total Calorie?

The sum of all caloric intake by the body is known as total calorie. It’s the sum of active calories as well as calories being used by the body to function normally. Some bodily functions take place without our knowledge. Breathing, for example, is an involuntary activity. Though we can practice authority by retaining our breath for a short period of time, the activity occurs naturally.

There are still other functions in our bodies that are necessary for our survival. Another example is digestion. The proper functioning of these functions necessitates the use of energy. Total calories are a measure of the amount of energy used by the body to perform these essential and normal functions.

The body might well cease to exist if it lacked energy. Basal calories are those calories that are required for the body’s normal functioning at rest. Basal calories are calculated by adding active and basal calories together. A person’s total calorie consumption varies depending on factors such as weight, activity level, and health status. This even means that basal calories differ from person to person.

Main Differences Between Active and Total Calories

  1. Active calories are the calories used by the body to perform physical activity. Total calories refer to the total amount of energy expended by the body for both physical exercise and normal bodily functions.
  2. Active calories could be used as a weight management criterion, whereas total calories provide a picture of the individual’s basal calorie requirement.
  3. Active calories may aid in determining the amount of energy expended on physical activities, thereby indicating a person’s overall health.
  4. Less combustion of active calories suggests a decrease in physical activity, but a decrease in total calories does not imply a decrease in basal calories.
  5. Active calories give an indication of basal metabolic rate, whereas total calories don’t.


The amount of activity, as well as total calories consumed, will differ from individual to individual. They serve as a health bar and assist us in determining our level of physical activity. There are a plethora of personal devices available to assist us in determining the number of calories burned.

These devices measure calories burned by counting the number of steps taken, distance walked, and how long we are physically active effectively dictating our activity levels, which in turn determine the number of calories burned.


  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199212313272701
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2008-16943-002