What is Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)?
TDEE is, without exaggeration, the most useful tool you’ll come across for weight management, weight loss and muscle building. It stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure, and it’s the amount of calories that you need per day in order to maintain your current bodyweight once exercise and lifestyle have been factored in.
Why Does TDEE Matter?
By calculating your TDEE, you know exactly how many calories it takes per day to maintain your bodyweight. Since maintaining a healthy bodyweight is linked with improved health across a range of markers, TDEE can be a useful tool for looking after your health. Knowing your TDEE also means that you can easily calculate how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight or gain weight. Typically…
- For weight loss: Calories per day = TDEE minus 500.
- For weight gain: Calories per day = TDEE plus 500.
So if your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or even maintain your current weight, TDEE is a fantastic tool for you to use.
How to Calculate TDEE
The calculation for TDEE actually builds on the calculation for BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) which we’ve talked about here, but also factors in how active you are (Physical Activity Level or PAL). Therefore…
TDEE = BMR x PAL
How Do I Know My Physical Activity Level?
Luckily, numbers have been well-established over the years, and fall into these guidelines…
|Light Exercise (1-2 days per week)||1.375|
|Moderate (3-5 days per week)||1.55|
|Heavy (6-7 days per week)||1.725|
|Athlete (2x per day)||1.9 +|
Now, you might have noticed one small issue with the numbers; they only factor in activity through exercise, whereas activity through occupation also plays a significant role. For example, if you’re a construction worker or a farmer, you might find yourself in the moderate category, even if you never do any formal exercise or training.
To estimate your physical activity level successfully, you need to be honest with yourself about the amount of exercise your work involves, as well as being honest with yourself about how hard your training sessions are. If in doubt, take your best estimate and adjust over time.
An Example TDEE Calculation
Let’s say that you’re a 31-year-old male, 180cm tall, weighing 85kg. You work in an office, and you go to the gym twice per week, where you train hard.
BMR = 10 x Weight (KG) + 6.25 x Height (CM) – 5 x Age (Years) + 5
BMR = 10 x 85 + 6.25 x 180 – 5 x 31 + 5 = 1825
TDEE = BMR x PAL
TDEE = 1825 x 1.375 (light exercise 1-2 times per week) = 2509 kcal per day
Our Advice – Use a TDEE Calculator
As you can see, whilst it is possible to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure manually, it’s quite long-winded (which is pretty much it’s only major drawback)
Instead, your best bet is to save yourself loads of time and energy and use the calculator that we’ve pre-made for you above. That way you can quickly find out your maintenance calories and make any adjustments you need to suit your health and fitness goals.