When you’re sick, your body needs extra energy to fight off the illness and facilitate recovery. It’s common to burn more calories when sick due to a fever and increased metabolic activity, though the exact amount of extra calories burned depends on your temperature, metabolism, and the severity of the illness. This heightened calorie burn typically lasts 24 to 48 hours and decreases as the sickness subsides.
While a headache does not significantly increase calorie burn, some illnesses like the flu may cause an increased metabolism and a rise in body temperature that can result in the burning of more calories than normal. Some studies indicate that for every one degree Celsius your temperature rises, the body burns 7 – 10% more calories as it enters a hypermetabolic state to fight off infection.
It’s also important to remember that a healthy diet is key when sick. Avoid eating junk food that will make you feel worse, and instead choose nutrient-rich foods to support your immune system. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
Lastly, it’s best to stay home as much as possible while sick, to minimize the risk of infecting others. If you must leave the house, be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing to prevent spreading the virus. If you’re feeling bored while staying at home, try picking up a new hobby to stimulate your brain and keep you from snacking out of boredom. For example, try knitting or crocheting, fold some origami, or learn how to paint or draw.