4 Feb

Sounds scientific, right?  Well, it is.  But it’s not that scary.

Different from your BMI, BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) measures the number of calories you expend per day while your body is at rest.  Your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) tells you how many calories you burn per day, taking into account your activity levels.  These are both useful pieces of information, especially if you are trying to lose weight.  Even if you’re not, however, I think it’s nice to have an understanding of what your body is outputting each day, and how much you need in order to fuel it properly.

The first step in determining your TDEE is calculating your BMR.  A good online tool is

Or, you can calculate it manually by using the following formula:


BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)


BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches  – (6.8 x age in years)


Now that you have your BMR, multiply it by your activity calculator to find your TDEE.  Figure out which of the activity levels below describes you best; the corresponding number is your activity multiplier.

Sedentary (little or no exercise)  = 1.2

Lightly Active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) = 1.375

Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) = 1.55

Very Active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week) = 1.725

Extra Active (hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x daily training) = 1.9


Example: female, age 27, 5’5”, 140lbs, lightly active

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 140) + (4.7 x 65) – (4.7 x 27) = 1,442

TDEE = 1442 x 1.375 = 1,984


Your TDEE tells you how many calories you burn in a day.  In general, you should try to match the number of calories you consume with your TDEE in order to give your body the energy it needs to operate properly.  Keep in mind, however, that  this is not an exact science; the number of little movements you make in a day will never be fully accounted for, nor will every single calorie of everything you eat.

In order to lose weight, you need to expend more energy than you consume.  In other words, your TDEE needs to be higher than the number of calories you eat. The safest approach is to cut 500-1,000 calories per day (1-2lbs per week) by manipulating your diet, cardio, and strength training.  Remember that 1lb of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.  If you want to gain some weight, you should consume more than your TDEE.



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