TDEE Calculator – Total Daily Energy Expenditure

TDEE, total daily energy expenditure, is the amount of energy in calories you burn per day. TDEE is best calculated by factoring in your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, and your activity level. BMR is the number of calories you would burn per day at rest.

Your total daily energy expenditure includes all the energy you burn sleeping, working, exercising, and even eating. It is important to know your TDEE when trying to set up a proper bulking or cutting diet.

Your TDEE is often referred to in fitness articles as your calorie maintenance level. This is the number of calories that is required per day to keep you are your current weight. After you know your total daily energy expenditure you can either add calories per day to gain bulk or lower calories to cut fat.

TDEE Calculator – Find out how much energy you burn.

Calculate Your TDEE

To calculate your TDEE, simply input your height, weight, age, and current activity level. If you are not sure how active you are, use these guidelines.

  • No exercise – You are very sedentary. You have a desk job and get little to no exercise per day.
  • Light exercise – Light exercise or performing a sport 1-3 times per week.
  • Moderate exercise – Moderate exercise or performing a sport 3-5 times per week.
  • Heavy exercise – Hard exercise or performing a sport 6-7 times per week.
  • Extreme exercise – Intense daily exercise and/or difficult physical labor.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
 ft.  in.

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TDEE – Digging Deeper

When it comes to losing weight, it can feel like there is a lot of guesswork.

Calculating your TDEE — or total daily energy expenditure — will give you a close estimate of how many calories you burn throughout the day. TDEE is calculated by taking into account your basal metabolic rate and activity levels. We will cover more in-depth later about BMR, but it’s essentially the calories your body uses for daily functions like keeping your heart beating, digestion, and other basic functions that keep you alive and healthy.

Your total daily energy expenditure takes a look at how many calories your body burns at rest and also takes into account the calories you burn at work, exercising, or eating. It’s important to calculate your TDEE so you can set up a proper bulking or cutting diet.

Many professionals refer to your TDEE as your calorie maintenance level. Your calorie maintenance level is essentially the number of calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight with your current activity levels. Once you calculate your total daily energy expenditure, you can start adding calories to build muscle, or removing calories so you can burn fat. This is a helpful tool to get you on the path to your fitness goals.

Things You Should Know About TDEE

Calculating your TDEE gives you a good indicator of how many calories you burn. This gives you an idea of how many calories you need to consume so you can maintain your current weight.

This number is pretty important because it is somewhat tailored to you by your BMR and your specific activity levels — calculating your BMR takes into account your sex, height, weight, and age. To find your TDEE, that number is then multiplied by a constant that represents an activity level. Fortunately, you can simply plug your numbers into the calculator and it will take care of the rest.

Knowing your TDEE is great, but there are a few things you should know about it.

#1 – Your Daily Activity Levels

An important aspect of calculating your TDEE is your activity levels. The more activity you perform daily, the higher the number your BMR is multiplied by. The problem is many people overestimate their activity levels.

This is why it’s important to evaluate your activity levels outside of what is carried out in the gym. When it comes to choosing a sedentary versus a moderate activity level, there isn’t a specific difference between the two — and that can make it tricky. The important part about choosing your activity levels on the calculator is being real with yourself. If you have an easy job, go home and relax on the couch to play video games, and then hit the gym… you’re still somewhat sedentary.

Just because you go beast mode in the gym doesn’t mean you are a highly active person.

#2 – Your Exercise Intensity

Another important factor in calculating your daily energy expenditure is your exercise intensity. This is where you take into account all of the activities performed at the gym. There is a big difference between moderate and intense activity, so you need to be careful when choosing your intensity levels.

Choosing the wrong one will lead to an overestimation of how many calories you burn and will slow your progress towards your fitness goals.

#3 – You Need to Work Up to It

One thing that helps you lose weight is easing into your plan. If you want to effectively lose weight, you should start by logging your food and consistently hitting your TDEE for a few weeks before you start reducing calories.

This allows you and your body to get conditioned to eat at a certain level before you start eating less. This process may seem counter-intuitive, but it is easier to get conditioned to eating your current calories consistently than it is to jump into what will feel like a restrictive diet. You will be more consistent and you’ll be able to modify your intake much easier.

The same goes for those wanting to bulk. Personally, it is easier to eat more food than it is to eat less food, but consistency is key to losing fat or building muscle.

Once you have consistently hit your calories for a few weeks, it’s time to start manipulating calories.

For weight loss, start by removing 250 calories from your diet for two weeks, and after that another 250 calories for a total of 500 calories lower than the TDEE you calculated. For building muscle, start by adding 150 calories from your diet for two weeks, and after that another 150 calories for a total of 300 calories lower than the TDEE you calculated. The slow removal or addition of calories helps ease you into your plan.

Once you have successfully eased into a 500-calorie deficit or a 300-calorie surplus, it’s time to recalculate your TDEE and see your progress.

#4 – Weight Loss is About Balance

Losing weight is about fueling your body with the fuel it needs to run. Once you know your TDEE you know how many calories you need to eat to maintain weight, lose weight, or build muscle. In order to lose weight, you’ll need to eat less, exercise more, or both. In order to build muscle, you’ll need to eat more, and lift weights.

Your TDEE is what your body needs to work in order to keep your basic functions going while you perform physical activity. Drastically reducing your calories to the point your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs won’t help you at all. This will slow the process, cause damage, and could result in an unhealthy lifestyle.

Knowing your TDEE gives you the tools to lose weight, build muscle, or maintain weight. You’re essentially taking the guesswork out of achieving your personal fitness goals.

Use it wisely and you can create a sustainable healthy lifestyle you enjoy.

How is TDEE Calculated?

Every day you burn a specific number of calories just existing. If you were to lay in bed all day and sleep, you will still burn calories. As your activity level increases, you start burning additional calories. TDEE is calculated by taking the calories you burn for simply existing and combining that with your physical activity levels.

There are actually several factors that factor into the math to calculate your TDEE.

These include:

  • Your basal metabolic rate
  • Thermic effect of food
  • Thermic effect of activity
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

Basal Metabolic Rate

We’ve talked a little bit about your basal metabolic rate, but here’s where we dive a little deeper.

There are a few different methodologies for calculating your BMR, so let’s take a look at them.

Harris-Benedict Original and Revised Equations

The most notable and widely-used formula is the Harris-Benedict equation published back in 1919. A revised equation was published in 1984 using new data. When compared to actual energy expenditure, the revised equation has been found to be more accurate.

Harris-Benedict Original Equation

  • The original equation for men is BMR = 66 + ( 6.2 × weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 × height in inches ) – ( 6.76 × age in years ).
  • The original equation for women is BMR = 655.1 + ( 4.35 × weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 × height in inches ) – ( 4.7 × age in years )

Harris-Benedict Revised Equation

  • The 1984 revised equation for men is BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kg) + (4.799 × height in cm) – (5.677 × age in years)
  • The 1984 revised equation for women is BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 × weight in kg) + (3.098 × height in cm) – (4.330 × age in years

Mifflin St Jeor

Mifflin published an equation more predictive of modern lifestyles in 1990.

  • The equation for men is BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
  • The equation for women is BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Katch-McArdle Equation

The Katch-McArdle Equation takes the Harris-Benedict formula but also takes into account lean body mass.

The formula looks like this:

  • BMR = 370 + (21.6 x Lean Body Mass(kg) )
  • Lean Body Mass = (Weight(kg) x (100-(Body Fat)))/100

Thermic Effect of Food

The calories your body burns through processing food for use and storage is known as the thermic effect of food. Studies suggest this is typically somewhere in the 10% to 15% of your TDEE.

Each macronutrient has a different thermic effect — proteins have 20-30%, carbs have 5-15%, and fast have 3-4%. That means if you eat four calories from protein, around one calorie will be burned through the digestion process.

Thermic Effect of Activity

The thermic effect of activity is what it sounds like — the calories you burn through intentional exercise. This could be walking, running, hiking, lifting weights, or boxing.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Your body burns calories by moving, even when you’re not exercising. Fidgeting, twitching, walking around the house, cleaning, and even shivering burn calories.

In our easy-to-use calculator, you need to choose the activity level that best describes you. If you are extremely sedentary, that’s okay. What’s not okay is saying you are active when you have a desk job, game for hours a day, and train three times per week.

Choosing the proper activity level will give you a closer estimate of the calories you actually burn.

Activity Levels

  • Sedentary – desk job, work from home, very little activity
  • Light Activity – teacher, host, usher, some standing and moving
  • Active – server, trainer, nurse, mostly standing and moving
  • Very Active – construction worker, farmer, mostly moving and lifting

Using Your TDEE to Lose Weight

Calculating your TDEE gives you an estimation of how many calories you burn per day. This is some handy information to have if you want to make consistent progress towards your fat loss goal.

In order to lose weight after you calculate your TDEE, you’re going to need to start logging your food and holding yourself accountable. Ideally, most of your food should come from nutritious sources, but simply sticking to logging your food and eating smaller portions is a good start.

As you start logging your food, you can start slowly decreasing the calories you eat per day, exercising more, or a combination of both. Start by decreasing your daily calorie intake by 250 calories and assess your progress. Consistency is important, so a slow decrease in calories makes the change sustainable.

If your calculated TDEE is 2,000 calories, start logging your food and maintaining a 2,000-calorie diet. After a couple of weeks of not going over your calories, start eating 1,750 calories and maintaining that.

If you are having trouble getting enough nutritious foods into your diet, you’ll need to upgrade your cooking skills and start utilizing an 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is where 20% of the calories for the day can come from anything you’d like — ice cream, some tortilla chips, and cheese, whatever — and 80% comes from nutritious whole foods.

If you are eating 1,750 calories, 1,400 calories should come from nutritious foods like chicken, beef, pork, rice, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The remaining 350 calories can come from a Snickers bar, some ice cream, or whatever your favorite is.

Showing restraint and enforcing the 80/20 rule can make flexible dieting much easier.

Using Your TDEE to Build Muscle

If you want to build muscle, you’ll need to know how much food you need to eat to maintain your weight. Once you know what it takes, you’ll need to start eating more.

That doesn’t mean piling on the junk food, either.

Once you have your TDEE, it’s time to start logging your food and consistently hitting the calories you are supposed to. Many people have a problem building muscle because they simply don’t eat enough. They think they are eating enough, but not logging what they eat means they don’t really know.

Start logging your food and start increasing your calorie intake by 250 calories. Ideally, you should start by improving the quality of the foods you eat first. Sure, you can have 2,000 calories of Burger King… but 2,000 calories coming from some, apples, a banana, chicken breast, ground beef, bell peppers, jalapenos, brown rice, broccoli, and olive oil will provide more nutrition and keep you full.

Start making better nutritional choices, and start eating the extra 250 calories in protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Your body will thank you if you eat five ounces of chopped chicken breast instead of eating a Snickers bar.

How Accurate is TDEE?

Without going to a lab and having tests run by professionals, TDEE is extremely accurate.

The problem with the perceived accuracy of TDEE relies heavily on the individual. That is, if you consistently and accurately track your calories, it will help. In most cases, the calorie estimation should be within 10% if you are honest about your activity levels. That means if you need 2,300 calories per day, you could see around a 230 calorie variance.

Over the course of one month that can equal around 7,000 calories. Many people often overestimate their activity levels and this is where some individuals claim “it doesn’t work.”

The idea about TDEE I want you to take home with you is calculating your TDEE gives you a start. If you can consistently log and eat the calories that your TDEE calculation says, you can tweak your intake accordingly. If you honestly consistently eat less food than your TDEE, you may have overestimated your activity level or you aren’t accurately logging your food.

Hold yourself accountable, start logging your food, eat healthier foods, and start exercising more.



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