Whether you’re trying to lose weight, bulk up and build muscle, or just want to maintain your current physique, there’s a lot of confusion out there about the numbers involved in meeting those goals.
How many calories should you eat? How many calories should you burn? Why can you eat the exact same amount as someone else and not see the same results?
A lot of these questions can be answered by first calculating a number known as your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.
If you’re now wondering, “what is TDEE?” keep reading.
Everything you need to know about calculating your TDEE is explained below, along with some other tips on how to use this information to achieve your specific fitness goals.
What is TDEE?
TDEE is an acronym that stands for total daily energy expenditure. This is the total number of calories that your body burns on a daily basis.
Calculating your TDEE can help you figure out how many calories you should eat each day depending on your goals. For example, to maintain your current weight, you would need to eat the same number of calories that you’re burning. To lose or gain weight, you would need to eat less or more calories than what your body naturally burns.
Components of Your TDEE
Your TDEE calculation takes into account several sources of calorie burning, including the following:
- BMR (basal metabolic rate): The number of calories you burn by performing basic functions like breathing and maintaining a stable heartbeat.
- TEF (thermic effect of food): The number of calories you burn by digesting food.
- TEA (thermic effect of activity): The number of calories you burn as a result of your daily activities, including your exercise
- NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis): The number of calories you burn when you’re moving but not exercising (when you’re cleaning, cooking, walking around your house, fidgeting, etc.)
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into your body’s total calorie expenditure for the day. Changes in these components can significantly impact your TDEE without you even realizing it.
Other Factors that Influence TDEE
There are several other factors that can influence the number of calories you burn per day, including the following:
Men tend to have greater energy (calorie) needs than women do. This is why a woman and her male partner can eat the same amount and the woman will gain weight and the man won’t.
Men usually burn more calories than women because they are, in most cases, larger, more active, have larger organs, and have less body fat and more muscle mass.
People who are younger also tend to expend more energy than their older counterparts. It’s not clear exactly why this is, but many researchers believe the changes have to do with a loss of muscle mass and lifestyle changes (being more sedentary).
Heavier people also have higher metabolic rates, in most cases, than lighter people. This might seem counterintuitive at first, but it actually makes sense upon closer inspection.
It requires more energy to move a larger body, and heavier people also tend to have larger organs and muscles.
Tall people also burn more calories than short people, generally speaking. This has to do, in part, with the fact that their bodies have a larger surface area, even if they’re not overweight.
Finally, the amount you move throughout the day plays a big part in how many calories you burn. Many people these days are sedentary for large parts of the day, which means they don’t burn many calories.
At the same time, some people burn lots of calories without realizing it. They may fidget a lot, for example.
How to Calculate TDEE?
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you can figure out what your TDEE is. There are a couple different ways you can go about calculating it:
This first option is very basic and can be a good starting point for people who are brand new to the world of calorie counting.
All you have to do is take your current bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by either 14 or 16. Men, and/or those who think they have a fast metabolism, should multiply their weight by 16. Women, and/or those who think they have a slow metabolism, should multiply their weight by 14.
This will give you a rough idea of your TDEE. It’s not highly accurate, but it’s enough to get you started.
Try eating at maintenance (consuming a number of calories that is equal to your TDEE) for a couple of weeks and see if the scale goes up or down as a result. This will help you know if your calculation was too high, too low, or just right. From there, you can add or subtract calories to meet your goals.
The more accurate way to do this is to first figure out your BMR. Then you will multiply your BMR by a certain number depending on the amount of exercise you do each week.
To calculate your BMR, you’ll need to follow on of the following equations:
- Males: 66 + (13.75 x your weight in kilograms) + (5 x your height in centimeters) – (6.8 x your age in years)
- Females: 655 + (9.6 x your weight in kilograms) + (1.8 x your height in centimeters) – (4.7 x your age in years)
Once you’ve calculated your approximate BMR, you’ll need to multiply by the number that corresponds to your weekly exercise:
- For people who work out 1-3 hours per week, multiply by 1.2
- For people who work out 4-6 hours per week, multiply by 1.35
- For people who work out more than 6 hours per week, multiply by 1.5
This approach is slightly more accurate, but it is still an estimation at the end of the day. As with option 1, try eating at maintenance for a couple weeks after doing your calculation and add or subtract depending on whether the number on the scale goes up or down.
Tips for Increasing Your TDEE
If your TDEE is low, there are things you can do to increase it. Increasing your TDEE can allow you to eat more calories throughout the day without gaining weight.
There’s not much you can do about your age, gender, or height, all of which are factors that influence your TDEE. But, there are still some things you can do to increase the number of calories you burn per day.
A few steps you can take to increase your TDEE include:
- Exercise more
- Increase your NEAT (walk more throughout the day, clean your house, etc.)
- Eat more dietary fat (this boosts testosterone production, which, in turn, can increase metabolism slightly)
It’s also helpful to work on increasing your muscle mass. This increases your metabolism, which boosts your calorie burn. It can also help you alter your body composition (which is helpful for people who are “skinny fat“).
Looking for More Advice?
You now have a clear answer to the question, “what is TDEE?” But, you might still be confused about what you need to do to increase your energy expenditure and see results from your workouts.
Check out the fitness and exercise-related articles on the site today to learn more about the right workouts to do to change your body composition and reach your fitness goals.