Most people will hear that the average woman should aim for 1,800 calories per day, while the average man would need about 2,200 calories.
The problem is that those guides are wrong for almost everybody.
How many calories you need every day is dependent on so many factors - this is where a a Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculator comes in handy.
To use this (TDEE) calculator, put your statistics in:
What Is Total Daily Energy Expenditure About?
Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the amount of energy a person burns per day to cover all physical functions.
The number of calories per day largely depends on your sex, age, weight, height, and activity level throughout the day. But it also includes the energy needed for breathing, blood circulation, and digestion.
And because of the number of factors that influence the calories your body burns, the actual daily calorie needs can be vastly different even for an average person.
What a calculated TDEE value can tell is how many calories you’ll need to consume each day to maintain your current weight.
But there’s more to it.
Why Is It Important To Know Your TDEE?
Armed with the number of calories per day, you’re in a much better position to keep track of your current diet and find out whether it supports your health and fitness goal.
I’ve split this section into 3 parts to show you what I mean.
When you’re trying to build muscle and gain weight, you need to eat a lot more than the average daily calorie intake if you weren’t exercising a lot.
How many calories your body needs will then depend a lot on how often you exercise, as well as a few physical characteristics that we’ll explain below.
With a calculated TDEE, you’ll know what your calorie goal is per week and day so that you can gain muscle as fast as possible.
When you’re cutting, you don’t just want to lose weight. You need to reduce body weight in a controlled way so that you remove as much body fat as possible while not having too much impact on lean body mass.
That’s easier said than done.
What TDEE does is help you to gradually eat less to get to a calorie deficit and boost fat loss. But you’re also less likely to push it too far where you impact the muscle gain.
3. Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, then you have to focus on your macros, the quality of the food you eat, and the number of calories you consume.
“While the majority of food and training plans work by cutting calories overall, an approach that many neglect is counting the macros that form the calories themselves. It’s a key part of nutrition and weight management that is often overlooked.” – Edward Cooper, Editor at Menshealth.com.
TDEE can tell you what calorie intake your body needs to maintain your current weight. With that starting value, you can then either maintain the same activity levels and eat fewer calories or eat the same and introduce some cardio and strength training.
Ultimately, that approach will lead to a loss in body fat.
How Is TDEE Calculated?
TDEE is calculated using several different methods like the Harris-Benedict formula and the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.
What they all do is take certain input values like your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level to calculate the number of calories you burn.
Now, you could argue all day about which formula is more reliable. We decided to take our dietitian's word for it and stuck with this TDEE calculator.
The Harris-Benedict Formula
This TDEE formula is over 100 years old, but it has been slightly adjusted over the years. What it does is use a two-step process that starts with calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) .
This is the number of calories you burn per day just to keep you alive. It covers breathing, blood circulation, brain activity, and metabolism.
The next step involves layering on your non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which is how physically active you are when performing work tasks. A laborer would burn more calories than an office worker, for example.
The calculated TDEE is the calories you need to aim for to maintain your weight.
And for anyone interested enough in the actual formula, this is how you break it down:
Step 1 - BMR:
- Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 × weight in kg) + (3.098 × height in cm) - (4.330 × age in years)
- Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kg) + (4.799 × height in cm) - (5.677 × age in years)
Step 2 - Activity Levels:
- Low to light activity: Step 1 x 1.53
- Active job and/or moderate exercise: Step 1 x 1.76
- Very active job and sporting activity: Step 1 x 2.25
What Does This TDEE Calculator Not Take Into Account?
Our dietitian did mention that this isn’t a 100% accurate formula for weight loss or bulking but should be taken as a starting point where you make adjustments to your diet.
The reason is that there is something called the thermic effect of food .
This describes how much energy your body needs to digest certain foods. For example, sugary treats have hardly any thermic impact, but raw nuts would require almost half of their contained energy just to break down and absorb.
That’s where a healthy diet comes into play to avoid those foods that have a low thermic impact.
Have You Worked Out Your TDEE?
I highly recommend starting with the TDEE calculator on this page before you come up with a diet plan to lose weight or bulk up.
You have to know how many calories you burn every day and then make sure you adjust your intake as needed.
You also need to know that your intake may change depending on how hard you’re training. Keep that in mind when working out your calories per week, and make adjustments quickly.
So, let’s calculate your TDEE right now, and come back to us in a few weeks about how it has impacted your fitness goals and diet.