Determining TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)

Figuring out your TDEE is very important whether aiming to lose fat, maintain current weight, or gain mass. Even if you are not counting calories it is good to know. Total Daily Energy Expenditure consists of RMR (resting metabolic rate/energy expended while resting or sleeping), EAT (exercise-associated thermogenesis, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis/energy used from daily tasks like walking to car and brushing your teeth), and TEF (thermic effect of food/calories used to digest and absorb the food you consume).

Note: There is another, much simpler and relatively accurate way to find your fat loss, maintenance and muscle growth calories that is very close to the second more thorough method (the recommended way by NFPT/National Federation of Personal Trainers). In this way you simply multiply your current body weight by 12, 14, or 16. Using the first example of the 175 lb man as an example, calculating for maintenance calories….. 175×14=2,450. As you can see this is only 63 calories off the NFPT method calculation of 2,387. Below are two examples using the 12, 14, 16 method.

Example 1: 175 lb individual

Fat Loss-175×12=2,100


Muscle Gain-175×16=2,800

Example 2: 145 lb individual

Fat Loss-145×12=1,740


Muscle Gain-145×16=2,320

Steps for second method:
1st-Determine body fat percentage. (You can do this using the anthropometric measurement found on the internet through several sites. Though a skinfold caliper test would be the most accurate, the anthropometric measurement method is much simpler and relatively accurate).

2nd-Subtract body fat in lbs from total body weight (=lean body mass/LBM)

4th-Determine activity level from chart

You can also add 10% of total to account for TEF (thermic effect of food) for a even more accurate number.

Activity Factor Chart


Lightly active-1.375

Moderately active-1.55

Very active-1.725

Extremely active-1.9

Example 1: For 175 lb lightly active male with 18% body fat







TDEE=2,387 calories

Example 2: For 145 lb lightly active female with 25% body fat


145-36.25=108.75 (LBM)



1,645×.10 (TEF)=164.5



Goal Calculations

Fat loss– Subtract 500 from TDEE

Weight Maintenance– Follow TDEE

Muscle gain– Add 350-500 calories to TDEE


– If not losing fat, maintaining weight, or not gaining muscle add or subtract calories slowly. If you are aiming to maintain weight and are losing weight, add 200-250 calories to TDEE. If you are aiming to gain weight and are not, increase calories by increments of 200-250 not 500. The slower you gain mass the more likely it will be muscle as opposed to fat. As with fat loss, the slower you go the better. If you are gaining more than 1 lb a week you may want to re-evaluate your calorie intake.

– Never eat below your RMR. This is not healthy and will only lead to negative consequences. Generally speaking, the quicker you lose weight the more lean mass you will lose. Go slow and…

– Aim to lose no more than 1% of your total body weight a week and preferably aim for a 1lb loss a week.

– Aim to reach your energy deficit with exercise AND lowering calories as opposed to lowering your food intake alone (half from exercise, half from calorie decrease). To lose weight you need to take in 500 calories less than your TDEE. It would be best to aim to burn half (250) of those calories from further exercise. Lower your daily intake by 250 and add in one or two more exercise sessions a week. Instead of more cardio sessions you could add a 15-20 minute light cardio session immediately after your resistance sessions to burn some more calories. Listen to your body, however, and make sure you are getting ample rest (at least 24-48 hours between resistance exercise sessions) as well as sufficient sleep (7-9 hours) at night.

– If you are eating at your deficit and not losing weight, do not be so quick to lower calories further. First, check to see if you are truly eating the amount of calories you think you are. Many times people miscalculate their daily calories and eat much more than they think. If you re-evaluate and find that you are indeed eating your recommended daily fat loss calories, and not losing fat, lower your calories by 200-250 instead of by 500 again.

– If you are in any disease state you should always seek the advice of your physician when starting any new exercise regimen and a dietician when adjusting your calorie intake. Put safety first.

– These are all general guidelines and will vary from person to person and from situation to situation.

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