If you’re aiming to shed a few pounds before beach season you may want to know your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE.

Even if you are someone like me who doesn’t count calories, learning your daily needs can still be very useful.

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

For example, if you want to lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit. If you take in more calories than you need, you simply will not lose weight.

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, then 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”. However, NEAT and TEF have their place as well and therefore must be considered.

Let’s get into the numbers!

How to Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure

There are several ways that you can get an estimate of your TDEE.

One of the most accurate ways is by using 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, these are simply estimates and therefore can be off by several hundred calories.

The same is also true for an online calorie calculator, though again, they would be much more accurate because of the variables being used.

The goal is to use this simple formula (or an online calculator) to get an ESTIMATE of what your body requires.

Once you have that estimate you can begin to find a more accurate number through trial and error.

After eating at the estimated calorie calculation for several weeks you’ll be able to determine how accurate the calculation is.

If your calorie estimate is not producing your goal you can increase or decrease your calories based on whether or not you are losing weight.

If you eat at the maintenance calorie estimate and find yourself gaining weight you may need to decrease the estimate slightly.

It must be noted that most of us consistently miscalculate our daily calorie intake. For this 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. In other words, they weigh less 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. 

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.

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

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

Remember, however, that this number is just an estimate. Some further evaluating and tweaking of calories will be required to figure out your true number.

Whether you’re precisely counting calories or not, knowing your TDEE is definitely a number worth knowing.

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