Does Donating Plasma Burn Calories? – Perform A Good Deed, Shed A Few Pounds!

Plasma Dontaion - Everything You Should Know

Donating plasma is a noble act that can save lives, but it also raises an interesting question: does this process burn calories?

In this detailed exploration, we’ll dig into the scientific mechanisms behind plasma donation and analyze whether or not it has an impact on calorie expenditure. Let’s start with a brief overview of what plasma donation entails.

Plasma Donation Process

The process of donating plasma is an intricate one that involves multiple steps. This procedure ensures the safety of both the donor and the recipient of the plasma, and it typically takes about 1 to 1.5 hours. Let’s dive into the details:

1. Screening

Medical Examination and Health History: The process begins with a thorough screening to ensure the potential donor is healthy enough to donate. This includes a questionnaire about medical history, lifestyle, recent travels, and a mini-physical examination that checks temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin levels.

Why Is It Important? Screening ensures that the donation process is safe for the donor and that the plasma collected will be safe for use in medical treatments.

Does It Burn Calories? While the screening process itself doesn’t significantly burn calories, the body’s normal metabolic functions continue during this time.

Screening - Plasma Donation Process

2. Donation

Preparation: The arm is cleaned, and a new, sterile needle is used to draw blood. The blood is then passed through a special machine that separates the plasma from other blood components.

Separation Process: The machine uses centrifugal force to separate the plasma, allowing it to be collected into a container while the other components are returned to the body.

Does It Burn Calories? The physical act of donating doesn’t burn many more calories than sitting and resting. However, the body will start using energy to replace the lost plasma almost immediately, leading to calorie expenditure.

3. Return of Components

Mixing and Returning: The remaining red and white blood cells and platelets are mixed with a saline solution to replace the volume of the removed plasma. This mixture is then returned to the donor.

Why Is It Important? Returning the blood components helps with the recovery process, preventing issues like dizziness or fainting.

Does It Burn Calories? This process doesn’t lead to significant calorie burn, but it is crucial for maintaining the donor’s well-being.

Return of Components - Plasma Donation Process

4. Recovery

Immediate Recovery: After donating, donors are encouraged to rest in a waiting area and enjoy some refreshments. This helps the body begin to recover and replenish the donated plasma.

Long-Term Recovery: It takes about 24-48 hours for the body to replace the plasma fully. During this time, the body works harder to produce new plasma, leading to an increase in calorie expenditure.

Does It Burn Calories? Yes, the recovery process does burn calories, both in the immediate recovery phase and the longer-term replenishment of plasma.

Connection to Burning Calories

Though the physical acts of screening, donation, and returning components don’t significantly contribute to calorie burning, the body’s internal efforts to produce and replenish plasma do result in caloric expenditure.

Therefore, donating plasma does have a connection to burning calories, mainly through the metabolic processes required for plasma production and recovery.

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

The human body is continually burning calories, even at rest, through the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the energy needed for vital functions like breathing, blood circulation, and cell production. Any additional physical or mental activity adds to this basic level of caloric expenditure.

The Energy Cost of Plasma Production

The Energy Cost of Plasma Production

Plasma is mainly body water but also contains proteins and other substances. The production of these compounds requires energy, and thus, the body burns calories to manufacture them.

How Many Calories?

Estimations vary, but studies suggest that around 650 calories are required to produce a liter of blood. Since plasma is about 55% of blood volume, it would then roughly consume 350-400 calories for a liter of plasma.

However, during a typical plasma donation, only around 600-800 milliliters are collected, translating to approximately 210-320 calories burned.

The Energy Cost of Recovery

After donating plasma, the body needs to replace what has been lost. This recovery process requires additional energy, translating into more calories burned.

How Much More?

Recovery energy costs depend on factors like the individual’s size, metabolism, diet, and more. On average, it could be an additional 50-100 calories burned in the 24-48 hours following donation.

The Physical Act of Donation

Physical Act of Donation

It’s worth noting that the physical act of sitting in a chair and undergoing the procedure itself doesn’t contribute significantly to calorie burning. The real expenditure comes from the body’s internal efforts to produce and then replenish plasma.

Benefits and Risks

Plasma donation has numerous benefits, including the satisfaction of potentially saving lives. It can also have some risks and side effects, such as dizziness, fainting, or infection at the injection site. These risks are minimal and rare, especially when donating through a reputable organization.

Should You Donate to Burn Calories?

While plasma donation does burn some calories, it is not a significant amount and should not be considered a weight loss strategy. The primary reason for donating plasma should always be to help others in need.


Are there any risks associated with plasma donation?

Risks are minimal and rare but can include side effects like dizziness, fainting, or infection at the injection site. Donating through a reputable center and following their guidelines minimizes these risks.

How often can someone donate plasma?

Typically, you can donate plasma as often as twice a week with at least 48 hours between donations. It’s important to follow the guidelines of the specific donation center, as regulations can vary.

Can anyone donate plasma?

Not everyone can donate plasma. There are specific eligibility criteria, including age, weight, health conditions, and lifestyle factors. A thorough screening is performed to assess eligibility.

How long does it take for the body to recover after donating plasma?

The body usually replaces the donated plasma within 24-48 hours. Donors are often encouraged to rest, hydrate, and eat well to aid in recovery.

What happens to the donated plasma?

Donated plasma is used for life-saving treatments, including for patients with clotting disorders, burns, or immunodeficiency diseases. It can also be utilized in medical research.

Does the donation process hurt?

Most donors only feel a slight pinch from the needle during the donation process. Any discomfort is usually minimal and short-lived, with attentive care provided by medical professionals throughout the process.


Does donating plasma burn calories? Yes, it does, but not in large amounts. The caloric expenditure in plasma donation comes from the body’s energy cost in producing the plasma and recovering afterward.

The act of donating plasma is a generous one that can save lives and contribute to medical research. If you’re considering plasma donation, consult with healthcare providers and reputable donation centers to ensure that you meet the requirements and understand the process fully.

Remember, the primary motivation for donating plasma should be altruism and the potential to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life, rather than a method to burn extra calories.