Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Calculator

The total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator estimates the number of calories you burn per day. TDEE calculator provides a number that can be used to identify how many calories you should eat every day to lose, gain or maintain your weight.

Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current composition you must know the number of calories you need to consume to achieve that goal.

Use the TDEE calculator below to calculate how many calories you should eat every day to maintain your current weight at your current activity level.

What is TDEE?

TDEE refers to total daily energy expenditure. It is the total amount of calories you burn every day. Therefore, it is a good indicator of how many calories you should eat daily to maintain your current body weight.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is difficult to measure very accurately as it varies every day depending on various factors.

Typically, TDEE is estimated using the three main components of energy expenditure:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR)
  • Thermal effect of food (TEF)
  • Physical activity thermogenesis

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the amount of energy your body uses in a fasted and rested state. Simply put, it’s the minimum amount of energy your body needs to perform basic life functions.

This excludes daily activity of any kind, as well as energy your body expends while digesting food.

The BMR is the primary component of total energy expenditure comprising 60 – 70% of your TDEE.

For each individual BMR is different, as it depends on variables like height, weight, age, and gender. Therefore, the taller you are and/or the more you weigh the higher your BMR is.

Thermal Effect of Food (TEF)

This, so-called, “diet-induced thermogenesis” takes up around 10 – 15% of total energy expenditure (TDEE). It is the energy required to store, digest, and absorb the food you consume.

The consumption of different nutrients is also known to increase energy expenditure. The studies concluded that measured thermic effects of nutrients are:

  • 0 – 3% for fat
  • 5 – 10% for carbohydrates
  • 20 – 30% for proteins

In other words, your body requires more energy to digest, absorb and store proteins, than carbohydrates or fat.

Physical Activity Thermogenesis

Lastly, physical activity thermogenesis can comprise about 6 – 20% of the total energy expenditure.

This component is also the most variable as it encompasses both:

  • Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT)
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)

Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) is the energy expended doing all sorts of intentional exercises.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended doing any kind of activity excluding sleeping, eating, or sports-like exercise. It could be the energy expended climbing the ladders to work, performing tasks in your household, even fidgeting.

Illustration of the main total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) components

How Do I Calculate My TDEE?

TDEE calculation begins with an estimation of your basal metabolic rate (BMR). After that, calories burned from digesting food and physical activity are added. This way you can identify an estimate of your TDEE.

Now, let’s discuss it in a bit more detail.

The BMR equation typically includes variables like weight, height, gender, and age.

There are multiple equations for estimating BMR. Some of the most common ones are the Harris-Benedict equation, Katch-McArdle Formula, and Mifflin St. Jeor Equation.

All are very similar in their result output, even though some are more complicated than others, and require additional input variables.

The equation used by the TDEE calculator above is the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation.

MIFFLIN ST. JEOR EQUATION

Men: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5

Women: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

After you calculate your BMR, the next step is to multiply the number by an activity level factor. That is how much you workout every week, and whether you have a sedentary or a very active job.

ACTIVITY LEVEL FACTORS

  • None (little to no physical activity) – 1.15
  • A little (1 to 3 hours of exercise or sports per week) – 1.3
  • A moderate amount (4 to 6 hours of exercise or sports per week) – 1.5
  • A lot (7 to 9 hours of exercise or sports per week) – 1.7
  • A TON (10 or more hours of exercise or sports per week) – 1.9

In terms of the thermal effect of food (TEF), it’s typically not factored into the calculation.

It’s also not included in the TDEE tool above, as it has a relatively smaller impact than the other main components – BMR and activity level.

Overall, here is how the full TDEE formula, used in the calculator above looks like.

TDEE = BMR × ACTIVITY LEVEL FACTOR

How to Use TDEE to Lose Weight?

TDEE that you calculate provides an estimate of how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, you will have to eat below your TDEE.

How much below your TDEE should you eat?

Research shows that a calorie target that is 20 – 25% below the TDEE is a good target for weight reduction without hampering hormonal balance.

Such a calorie deficit would allow you to lose weight at a recommended rate of about 0.7% of your body weight per week.

This is a good weight loss pace, as it should not cause a crazy level of hunger and help you to lose fat without losing muscle.

How to Use TDEE to Gain Weight?

On the other hand, if your goal is to gain weight, you will need to eat above your TDEE.

How much above your TDEE should you eat?

Research shows a calorie intake for building muscle is around 10 – 20% above your TDEE with a target weight gain of about 0.25 – 0.5% of body weight per week. This can be a good target, especially for novice/intermediate athletes.

Advanced athletes should aim for an about 5 – 10% calorie increase above their TDEE and for a target weight gain of 0.25 – 0.5% of body weight per month.

This should be enough to build lean muscle while putting on very little body fat.

Are Online TDEE Calculators Accurate?

As I mentioned above, this TDEE calculator is meant to be used as an estimate of what your actual TDEE could be. Moreover, it is literally impossible to determine your exact total daily energy expenditure, as it varies day by day.

What I can say is that the calculator above can provide you with a number that is within 10 – 15% margin of error, in most cases. Given that you are being honest about your activity level and track your calorie intake correctly.

A good way of testing your TDEE is by following this step-by-step approach:

  1. Calculate your TDEE, using a TDEE calculator
  2. Eat around your TDEE calories daily, and track your food intake using apps like My Fitness Pal, FatSecret, and Lose it
  3. Weigh yourself daily, and compare median weight week to week
  4. Adjust calories accordingly – increase or decrease calories to identify the calories necessary to maintain body weight
Illustration of a step-by-step approach to see how many calories your burn daily

If you see that you are losing weight, it means you are eating below your TDEE. Weight gain indicates that you are probably eating above your TDEE. If your weight stays the same, you are eating around your TDEE.

Frequently Asked Questions About TDEE Calculator

How Can I Increase My TDEE?

The main components of TDEE with the largest impact are BMR and your total activity level. Thus, to increase your TDEE you want to build more muscle and be more active.

Simply put, by building more muscle mass and being more physically active your body will expend more energy. This means you will get to eat more calories, in order to maintain your current weight.

Should I Eat My TDEE to Lose Weight?

To lose weight you should eat below your TDEE. Research suggests a calorie target 20 – 25% below your TDEE. With a target weight loss of about 0.7% of your body weight per week. For most people that would be a calorie deficit of anywhere between 500-1,000 calories a day.

What Are TDEE and BMR?

BMR is the number of calories your body needs to perform basic life functions. On the other hand, TDEE is the number of calories you burn every day performing all your daily activities not just being at rest. To calculate your TDEE you need to identify BMR first.

Which Calorie Calculator Is Most Accurate?

TDEE calculator estimate of what your actual TDEE could be. It is impossible to determine your exact total daily energy expenditure, as it varies day by day.

In numbers, the calorie estimation should be within 10 – 15%, in most cases. Given that you are being honest about your activity level and track calorie intake correctly.

Final Thoughts

The TDEE calculator above can be used to calculate the number of calories your body burns every day.

The calculator gives a good estimate within 10-15% if you are honest about the activity level and track calorie intake correctly. Thus, I strongly recommend testing your TDEE by eating the number of calories and monitoring body weight daily.

When you know what is your TDEE creating a diet plan specific to your goal is that much simpler. Simply eat 20 – 25% below your TDEE to lose weight or around 10% above your TDEE to gain weight.