TDEE Calculator - Total Daily Energy Expenditure

By Joanna Michałowska, PhD candidate
Last updated: Sep 03, 2020

TDEE calculator allows you to estimate your total daily energy expenditure, and helps you to find out how many calories you burn every day. You can use this information to plan your meals, or to decide if you want to eat that chocolate bar or not 😊. In the article below you will discover the TDEE formula, and you will learn what exactly total daily energy expenditure is.

What is total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)?

Total daily energy expenditure is the energy burnt on average during an entire day. It reflects the average amount of energy spent during a typical day, but it is not the same each and every day. It is because our TDEE depends on many different factors, including:

  • Basal metabolism, which depends on many factors itself, including: age, sex, height, weight, fat free mass, fat mass. Depending on those factors, BMR represents 45 to 70 percent of TDEE.
  • Metabolic response of food, which is the energy needed to ingest and digest food. It is usually estimated to be 10% of total caloric intake.
  • Physical activity, which can vary every day. After BMR, this is the second-largest component of TDEE.
  • Physiological state: growth, pregnancy, lactation, etc.

How to measure TDEE?

The total daily energy expenditure can be measured using various methods, including:

  • the doubly labeled water technique (DLW),
  • direct and indirect calorimetry,
  • accelerometry,
  • heart rate monitors,
  • pedometers,
  • self-report methods.

The first five methods are not available to everyone, as they require using specialist equipment. Therefore, we created this total daily energy expenditure calculator to help you calculate your TDEE using just basic information.

TDEE formula

There is no one universal TDEE formula for estimating total daily energy expenditure. Estimation of TDEE is usually undertaken by assessing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and then multiplying it by the appropriate physical activity level (PAL). Researchers have developed several equations that predict basal metabolic rate. Different formulas require using different variables, and despite some limitations, they are used as a simple and affordable method of calculating energy requirements.

The physical activity level is a way to express a person's daily physical activity. Different PAL values have been derived by researchers using direct methods of assessing TDEE, and have been validated in many studies. Typical PAL values in adults range from 1.20 to 2.40.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure Calculator

As mentioned in the paragraph above, our total daily energy expenditure calculator is actually a combination of a BMR calculator and a TDEE calculator.

1. Choose a formula to calculate your basal metabolic rate. You can choose from the 5 most popular equations:

  • Mifflin-St Jeor - one of the most popular BMR equations recommended by US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To use it, you need to know the following variables: sex, age, height, and weight.
  • Harris-Benedict - historically, this is the most notable BMR formula, and was created in 1919. To use it, you need to know the following variables: sex, age, height, and weight.
  • Revised Harris-Benedict - a revised version of the previous formula, altered by a group of researchers in 1984. To use it, you need to know the following variables: sex, age, height, and weight.
  • Katch-McArdle - the only formula taking lean body mass into account. This is actually the only value you need to know to use it.
  • Schofield - equation used by WHO in their reports. To use it, you need to know the following variables: sex, age, and weight. This formula comes with a standard error of estimation, so the obtained BMR value can be adjusted according to the following rules:
    • Leaner subjects usually require more energy, while obese subjects have lower energy requirements.
    • Young subjects usually require more energy, while older people tend to require less energy.

2. Choose your physical activity level:

  • little/no exercise (sedentary lifestyle): 1.2,
  • light exercise 1-2 times/week,: 1.375,
  • moderate exercise 2-3 times/week: 1.55,
  • hard exercise 4-5 times/week: 1.725,
  • physical job or hard exercise 6-7 times/week : 1.9,
  • professional athlete: 2.4.

TDEE Calculator - an example

Let's try calculate the total daily energy expenditure for a female, who is 45 years old, 165 cm tall and weighs 60 kilograms.

  1. We need to choose a BMR formula - let's use Mifflin-St Jeor.

You can find the formula below:

BMR (kcal/day) = 10 * weight (kg) + 6.25 * height (cm) – 5 * age (y) – 161

When we input the values from our example, we can solve the equation:

BMR (kcal/day) = 10 * 60kg + 6.25 * 165cm – 5 * 45 years – 161

BMR (kcal/day) = 600 + 1031 – 225 – 161

BMR (kcal/day) = 1245

  1. Now we need to choose a physical activity level (PAL) - let's assume our female exercises moderately 2-3 times a week (PAL = 1.55)

  2. Multiplying BMR and PAL together will allow us to determine the total daily energy expenditure:

TDEE (kcal/day) = BMR * PAL

TDEE (kcal/day) = 1245 * 1.55

TDEE (kcal/day) = 1930

  1. Our graph will help you to visualize the components of TDEE. In this case the values are as follows:
  • BMR = 1245.25 kcal/day, which is 65% of the total energy burnt throughout a day.
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF) depends on the composition of food, but can be assumed to equal 10% of TDEE. It's 193 kcal/day in our example.
  • Exercise and nonexercise physical activity that represents energy burnt while performing different activities throughout a day. That includes workouts, walking, cleaning etc. In our example it equals 492 kcal/day:

exercise and nonexercise PA = TDEE - BMR - TEF

exercise and nonexercise PA = 1930 kcal/d - 1245 kcal/day - 193 kcal/day

exercise and nonexercise PA = 492 kcal/day

I know how many calories do I burn - what now?

You just found out how many calories your body needs to maintain your body weight. If your body weight is with in a normal range, that's great, just remember that if you want to lose/gain body mass you will need to eat less/more calories respectively. Here are some tools that may help you plan your diet:

Joanna Michałowska, PhD candidate
BMR formula
Mifflin-St Jeor
Mifflin-St Jeor formula for men
Mifflin-St Jeor formula for women
light excercise 1-2 times/week
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