What is TDEE & How It Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

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Do you ever feel like you’re doing everything right – eating healthy, exercising regularly – but still not seeing the results you want?

Well, we’ve got a secret weapon for you: TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

It’s not just another boring acronym – understanding your TDEE may be your answer for ultimately reaching your fitness goals.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure: Defined

Let’s get straight to it – TDEE refers to how many calories you need to eat in exchange for the amount you use in your daily activities.

Energy expenditure is the energy your body requires to perform necessary bodily functions, physical activities, and other things you do daily.

Whether you’re trying to lose fat, gain weight, or build muscle, knowing your TDEE is fundamental to properly fueling your body to accomplish what you want.

Before we go ahead and calculate total expenditure, you first need to understand the four major components and their function in your body.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the minimum calories required to fuel the body’s most basic functions, such as breathing, eyes blinking, blood circulation, food digestion, body temperature moderation, etc.

These are the factors that contribute to your Basal Metabolic Rate:

  • Weight
  • Height
  • Gender
  • Body Composition
  • Age

Note: Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or Resting Energy Expenditure is sometimes used interchangeably with BMR.

Although they have similar fitness expenditures, they’re not entirely the same. RMR is the calories your body burns or consumes while at rest, such as eating or using the bathroom. Meanwhile, BMR is the minimum calories for basic functions while the body is at rest.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

TEF accounts for the calories your body uses to absorb and digest food. It amounts to 10% of the total calorie intake of a healthy adult. However, it may vary depending on other factors, such as food composition and diet.

Exercise Energy Expenditure (EEE)

The variable in TDEE responsible for any physical activity is the EEE. If you’re working out, the intensity of your gym routines can change your EEE counts. Higher workout intensity means a more significant amount of calories burned.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

As the name suggests, NEAT refers to your daily activities outside of exercising, such as walking through the grocery store, taking the stairs, and cleaning the house. According to a study in 2007, NEAT is essential in maintaining healthy body composition and understanding obesity’s effective treatment.

How is TDEE Calculated

Now let’s go to calculations. It’s just a bit of math, promise!

First, let’s start by determining your BMR. You can’t remove it from the equation as it sustains body functions.

BMR is calculated differently for men and women. However, both include age, height, and weight. To get a more accurate calculation that uses all of these factors, let’s use the Harris-Benedict BMR equations:

BMR (men) = 66 + (12.7*height in inches) + (6.2*weight in pounds) – (6.76*age in years)

BMR (women) = 655 + (4.7*height in inches) + (4.35*weight in pounds) – (4.7*age in years)

TDEE According to Activity Level

Once you calculate your BMR, it’s now time to determine your activity level.

It accounts for the number of activities you do daily or weekly. It can be your typical daily activities at home, on-site jobs, or deliberate exercise routines. These are combined measurements of the TEF, EEE, and NEAT.

Your activity level can range from sedentary to extra active, as given by the standard measures below:

  • Extra Active (1.9): extensive exercise or gym/sports with a one-week duration, including a physical job
  • Very Active (1.725): extensive exercise or gym/sports with a one-week duration
  • Moderately Active (1.55): three to five days a week, moderate exercise or gym/sports
  • Lightly Active (1.375): three to five days a week, light exercise or gym/sports
  • Sedentary (1.2): less than three days of light exercise or no exercise at all.

Once you pinpoint where your activities fall, multiply it by your computed BMR. The equation is as follows:

TDEE = BMR * Activity Level

How many calories do you burn daily?

The United States National Institutes of Health provided an estimated calorie intake for different activity levels.

For male:

Age in yearsActivity Levels
51 and above2400-28002200-24002000

*The measurements are in calories.

For female:

Age in yearsActivity Levels
51 and above2000-220018001600

*The measurements are in calories.

Harvard Medical School also released a list of estimated calories burned daily. However, it is only limited to those who weigh 125 lb, 155 lb, and 185 lb.

Here is the summary:

General Weightlifting90108126
High-Impact Aerobics210252294
Dancing (slow-paced)90108125
Walking (3.5 mph)107133159
General Soccer210252294
Running (5mph)240288336
Standing in line283541

Calculators Available

There are many formulas that can be used to calculate BMR and TDEE, such as the Harris-Benedict equation presented above. You can also use the Katch-McArdle and Mifflin St Jeor equation.

You can also use online calculators like the IIFYM Calculator for your TDEE, that’s explicitly designed for those who want to lose weight. You just need to be sure to input the correct data to generate accurate results.

Example Calculation:

To better understand how the calculations work, consider the data below:

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Weight: 78 kg or 171 lbs

Height: 178 cm or 70.08 inches

Assume Activity Level: Extra Active = 1.9

Gender: Female

Age: 28

Weight: 78 kg or 171 lbs

Height: 178 cm or 70.08 inches

Assume Activity Level: Extra Active = 1.9

Let’s use the Harris-Benedict equation:

BMR (men) = 66 + (12.7 70.08 in) + (6.2 171 lbs) – (6.76 * 28)

BMR (men) = 66 + 890.016 + 1060.2 – 189.28

BMR (men) = 1826.936

BMR (women) = 655 + (4.7 70.08) + (4.35 171 lbs) – (4.7 * 28)

BMR (women) = 655 + 329.376 + 743.85 – 131.6

BMR (women) = 1596.626

Plugging the value into the TDEE equation:

TDEE (men) = BMR * Activity Level

TDEE (men) = 1826.936 * 1.9

TDEE (men) = 3471.1784 calories

TDEE (women) = BMR * Activity Level

TDEE (women) = 1596.626 * 1.9

TDEE (women) = 3033.5894 calories

Challenges in Estimating TDEE

The two major concerns are the estimation devices and faulty calculations. However, these can be solved with the proper use of equipment, accurate readings, and correct inputs.


When dealing with estimations, human errors or device inconsistencies are unavoidable.

For instance, when you try to read the weighing scale or measure your height, every action has to be precise. Your activity level also relies on your discretion and how you perceive the work you’ve put in.

Faulty Calculations

Although the formulas are straightforward, there may still be calculation mistakes. We sometimes overlook signs or wrong inputs in the calculator.

How to Increase Daily Energy Expenditure

Increasing your daily energy expenditure can be complicated.

While taking in more calories into your body is easy, burning them is more challenging, especially if they come in huge amounts.

But you don’t have to worry. The key to achieving this is knowing and understanding factors affecting your energy expenditure and the simple ways to counter them while increasing your TDEE.

Factors Affecting Your Energy Expenditure

The general factors that affect your energy expenditure are:

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body Composition
  • Hormones and hormonal influences
  • Genetics
  • Muscle Mass
  • Lifestyle
  • Metabolism
  • Diseases

TDEE typically decreases as we age. This is the same with lower weight, a sedentary lifestyle, greater body fat than muscle mass, and low metabolism.

Simple Ways to Increase Your TDEE

The most straightforward way to increase your TDEE is to engage yourself in daily activities, such as:

  • Do more household chores, like cooking, cleaning the car, or mowing the lawn
  • Take a walk every morning or walk your pets
  • Walk going to the grocery store and push a food cart
  • Stand in line instead of sitting
  • Carry boxes and move household furniture
  • Play and run around with your kids or nephews
  • Plant some flowers or decorate your garden
  • Use a bicycle instead of driving when going to short-distance destinations
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevators

How to Calculate Macros Using TDEE

Knowing your TDEE means you can also now determine the percentage of macronutrients in your food intake. These macros include protein, body fat, and carbohydrates. Knowing their breakdowns are essential for people who want to gain lean body mass and lose weight.

Check out our “How To Track Macros” article to learn more about macros.

We’ll use the same data from above.

We’ll also use the standards the National Library of Medicine sets, where every gram of protein and carbohydrates contains 4 calories. In comparison, fat per gram is equivalent to 9 calories.


TDEE (men) = 3471.1784 calories

TDEE (women) = 3033.5894 calories

Assume a food ratio of 40-30-30 (carbs-protein- fat percentage)


Protein Content (men) = 3471.1784  30% (1 gram/4 calories) = 260.34 grams of protein per day

Protein Content (women) = 3033.589  30% (1 gram/4 calories) = 227.52 grams of protein per day


Fat Content (men) = 3471.1784 30% (1 gram/9 calories) = 115.71 grams of fat per day

Fat Content (women) = 3033.589 30% (1 gram/9 calories) = 101.12 grams of fat per day


Carbs Content (men) = 3471.1784  40% (1 gram/4 calories) = 347.12 grams of carbs per day

Carbs Content ( women) = 3033.589* 40% * (1 gram/4 calories) = 303.36 grams of carbs per day

That’s it!

You now know how to break down your TDEE and acquire the percentage of each macronutrient.

From now on, you can check whether you’re consuming fewer calories than your TDEE or taking more than needed to maintain your diet.

How To Use TDEE To

Lose Weight

To achieve weight loss, you need to lessen your calories.

Once your intake exceeds your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, your body will switch to using fats to produce energy for your daily workouts and activities.

In our example, we’ve calculated that the TDEE for men is approximately 3471 calories and 3034 calories for women. That means you must consume fewer calories than these to lose weight.

Remember this simple equation:

Calories In – Calories Out = Change in Weight

Gain Muscle

You must take in more calories than your Total Daily Energy Expenditure for muscle gains. Just be sure that as you gain weight, you match it with resistance training to convert these extra gains into muscle mass.

Note: Most training experts and bodybuilders get their surplus from carbohydrates because these calories can enhance performance while training and prevent muscle breakdown.


Now that you know all about Total Daily Energy Expenditure, it’s time to put it into practice and see the results for yourself. Remember, TDEE is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to take into account your individual lifestyle and activity level.

So, grab a pen and paper, do the math, and start tracking your calories and macronutrients. But remember – life is about balance, and sometimes indulging in your favorite treat or skipping a workout is okay. Use your newfound TDEE knowledge to help you make informed decisions and reach your health and fitness goals, but also remember to enjoy the journey and have fun along the way!


What is a normal TDEE?

TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, is unique to each person and can vary depending on factors like age, gender, weight, height, and activity level.

Generally speaking, a TDEE of around 2,000-2,500 calories per day is considered “normal” for a moderately active adult. However, it’s important to remember that there is no one definition of “normal” when it comes to TDEE, and the best way to figure out your own TDEE is to calculate it based on your own individual factors.

What is the best TDEE Calculator?

There’s no one “best” TDEE calculator – it all depends on what works for you. Some calculators may consider more factors than others, such as your body fat percentage or exercise intensity. However, as long as you’re using a reputable calculator and plugging correct information, you should get a relatively accurate estimate of your TDEE.

Remember, TDEE is just a starting point, and it’s important to track your progress and make adjustments as necessary to reach your health and fitness goals.

What should TDEE be to lose weight?

To lose weight, you’ll want to create a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than your body burns daily. Generally speaking, a safe and sustainable calorie deficit is around 500 calories per day, which can result in a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

To figure out what your TDEE should be to lose weight, simply subtract 500 calories from your TDEE. However, it’s important not to go too low with your calorie intake, as this can slow your metabolism and lead to muscle loss. Aiming for a moderate calorie deficit while still getting adequate nutrition and exercise is the key to successful weight loss.

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