Figuring out the amount of calories your body requires on a daily basis is a very important piece of information to know whether your goal is weight loss, weight maintenance or weight gain.

Energy balance is key to these weight-related goals (e.g, if you want to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit) and forgetting that crucial fact leads many to a path of failure.

Even if you’re not precisely counting calories, knowing how many your body requires is definitely a number worth knowing.

If you’ve struggled to lose weight, maintain weight, or add lean mass in the past or you just want to learn more about energy balance and TDEE, keep reading!


What is Total Daily Energy Expenditure?

Total Daily Energy Expenditure is the amount of calories your body expends on a daily basis.

TDEE consists of 4 key components; Resting Metabolic Rate, Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and the Thermic Effect of Food.

4 Components of TDEE:

  • 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)
  • TEF (thermic effect of food/calories used to digest and absorb the food you consume).

Each of these components make up your energy expenditure and therefore affect your weight related goals.

For more specific details on these components, see this article here.

Often times many of us simply think of our resting metabolic rate and exercise expenditure as the whole of our “energy out” but NEAT and TEF have their place as well and therefore must be considered.

Let’s get to the numbers!


How to Calculate your Daily Calorie Needs

There are several different ways that you can calculate an estimate of your TDEE, though the most accurate way is by use of an online calculator such as this one here.

Below I’ll briefly go over how to use a fairly simple calculation (Body weight x 12-17 or 11-16) to get a quick estimate of your daily calorie needs.

Men should use the numbers 12-17, while women should use the 11-16. 

11 and 12 being inactive, 16 and 17 being very active, and 13.5 and 14.5 being moderately active.

Below are two examples using this method for a very active, 175 lb male and a very active, 145 lb female. 

Example 1: Very active 175 lb male 

TDEE-175×17= 2, 975

Example 2: Very active 145 lb female

TDEE-145×16= 2,320

Remember, that these are simply estimates of what an individual requires and can very well be off by several hundred calories, as is also true for an online calorie calculator, though again, they would be much more accurate.

The goal is to use this simple formula (or an online calorie calculator) to get an idea of what your body requires so that you can begin to find a more accurate number.

After eating at the estimated calorie calculation for several weeks you will be able to determine how close the calculation is to your true calorie needs.

For example, if you eat at the projected maintenance calories and notice you are either losing or gaining weight, you can alter them from there.

You will increase or decrease your calories based on whether or not you lost or gained weight and by how much.

If you eat at the maintenance calories and find yourself gaining weight

It must be noted too, most individuals miscalculate their daily calorie intake. Fort his reason, your first action must be to reevaluate your caloric intake, not alter the calories.


Common Issues and Solutions:

– Whether you are not losing fat, not maintaining your weight, or not gaining muscle ensure that you add or subtract calories slowly.

If you’re aiming to maintain your weight and instead are losing weight, add 100-150 calories to your daily intake.

If you’re aiming to gain weight and are not, increase calories by increments of 100-150 not 300 or more. Many tend to get impatient and misplace logic with the thought that the faster you add or subtract calories the quicker you’ll reach your goal.

What ends up happening, however, is the opposite. The one wishing to add lean mass puts on just as much fat, leaving them unsatisfied with their results.

Likewise, the one wishing to lose weight, loses just as much lean mass as fat and is left with an unchanged body composition (they are smaller but their fat mass to lean mass ratio did not change much).

The slower you gain weight the more likely it is that fat gain will be at a minimum. As with fat loss, the slower you go the better the results.

If you’re gaining more than 1 lb a week you may want to re-evaluate your calorie intake and possibly lower it. Generally speaking, you should aim for about a 0.5 lb gain each week. Anymore than that and it is likely not from lean muscle gain but fat.

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 and the less likely it is that you will put the weight back on.

– Aim to lose no more than 1% of your total body weight a week.

– If you’re 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 we miscalculate our daily calorie intake and eat much more than we think. Snacking alone can easily add several hundred calories, so keep that in mind. If you re-evaluate and find that you are indeed eating your recommended daily weight loss calories (i.e, you’re truly in a deficit), and not losing weight, lower your calories by 200-250 instead of by 500 again.



Figuring out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is a very important piece of information to know whether your goal is weight loss, weight maintenance or weight gain.

Energy balance is key to these weight-related goals and forgetting that crucial fact leads many to a path of failure.

It can be fairly simple to get an accurate estimation of what your TDEE is by simply multiplying your body weight by 12, 15, or 18 (as we discussed above).

It must be remembered, however, that this number is just an estimate and some further evaluating and tweaking of calories will be required.

Whether you’re precisely counting calories or just eyeballing them, knowing the amount your body requires is definitely a number worth knowing if you want to be successful in specific weight-related goals.

I hope you found this article helpful in better understanding Total Daily Energy Expenditure and how to get a accurate starting number to work from.


Please like, share, and/or comment if you liked the article and feel that someone else may benefit as well.

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep pushing towards that leaner, stronger, healthier version of yourself.

Michael Cruz