Using TDEE vs. BMR for Weight Loss
As you start studying weight loss grammar, you will come across some confusing new terms.
Three of the most common are. . .
- Total daily energy consumption (TDEE)
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR)
- Energy balance
What do these phrases mean and how can they help you lose weight? What's the difference between tdee vs. bmr? How is your TDEE or BMR related to the energy balance?
You will find the answers to all of these questions in this article. It also tells you how to calculate your TDEE and BMR, the best equations to predict your BMR, and more.
Let's start by defining and demystifying TDEE.
What is TDEE?
TDEE stands for Total daily energy consumption, and it's a mathematical estimate of the total calories you will burn during the day based on your weight, height, age, and activity level.
Once you know your TDEE, this number can be used to determine how many calories you should be consuming each day to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.
For example, I'm 36 years old, six feet, and weighs 195 pounds, and I lift weights and do for about 5 hours Steady state cardio for about 3 hours a week (I'm switching to High intensity interval training when cutting) and my TDEE is around 2,800 calories.
TDEE is closely related to the concept of Energy balance, this is the ratio between the amount of energy (calories) you put into your body and the energy it uses up.
If I ate an average of 2,800 calories a day for an extended period of time (usually at least a week or so), I would be sticking to what researchers call neutral energy balance– consume and use the same amount of energy – and therefore would not gain or lose weight.
Of course, some days you eat more than your TDEE (positive energy balance) and less other days (negative energy balance), but these daily fluctuations will generally even out over time.
Once you know your TDEE, you can make effective dietary decisions based on three premises:
- If you eat more than this amount of calories each day, you will gain weight.
- If you eat less every day, you will lose weight.
- If you eat this much on a regular basis, you will maintain your weight.
It doesn't necessarily have to be count calories Losing weight, but it does mean that you need to understand how calorie intake and expenditure affect your body weight, and then regulate your intake according to your goals.
Would you like a free tool for individual meal planning?
Quickly calculate your calories, macros, and even micros to lose fat and build muscle.
Your free stuff is on the way!
Looks like you've already subscribed!
What is BMR?
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the average amount of calories your body needs each day to perform important functions such as breathing, blood pumps, hormone production, etc. Basically, it is about how many calories you would burn in a 24 hour period at rest.
You can accurately estimate your BMR based on your gender, weight, height, and age. Once you know your BMR it can be used to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which you can then use create a meal plan to help you lose, gain or maintain your weight.
This brings us to the main difference between BMR and TDEE:
BMR is a component of your TDEE (usually the largest), so it will always be smaller than your TDEE. For example, many people have a BMR of around 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day and a TDEE of around 2,200 to 2,600 calories per day. Hence, your BMR is typically around 70% of your TDEE.
The other three components of your TDEE are. . .
- The calories you burn while digesting food are known as thermal effect of food (TEF).
- The calories you burn during structured exercise, sometimes called. designated Locomotor activity thermogenesis (EAT).
- The calories you burn from doing any other activity during the day, such as: B. fidgeting, getting on and off your chair, doing chores, etc. are designated Thermogenesis without physical activity (ORDINARY).
Although your BMR tends to stay fairly constant, the other components of your TDEE can vary widely depending on your exercise routine, diet, and lifestyle.
Fidget, for example increase Metabolic rate by 25 to 50%, a high protein diet can increase the thermal effect of food by several hundred calories a day and adding just a few Cardio workouts Adding to your weekly routine can help you burn more than 1,000 calories a week.
Because of this, it's generally best to base your calorie intake on your TDEE, which takes all of these factors into account, rather than your BMR, which doesn't.
How To Use Your BMR & TDEE To Lose Weight
Research shows you must be in a calorie deficit to lose fat, but how big should that deficit be? Ten percent? Twenty percent? Greater?
In other words, should you be eating 90% of your TDEE every day to lose weight? Eighty percent? Fewer?
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is overly restricting their calorie intake, often referred to as a "crash diet". Usually this means limiting calories to 70% or less of the TDEE, or maintaining a calorie deficit greater than 30%.
While this causes short term faster weight loss, it usually Results if you are extremely hungry, Binge eating, and subsequent weight gain over a long period of time.
On the other hand, some fitness people advocate a "slowly cutting”Approach, where you use a light calorie deficit and a relaxed exercise plan to reduce fat stores over many months.
The benefits of this are said to be less Muscle loss, More comfortable workout, and less hunger and cravings, but that comes at a price. Slow cutting is namely very slow, which can feel demotivating and increase the risk of falling off the cart. It also requires meticulous control of your caloric intake, which is frustrating and unsustainable for most.
So I advocate a middle ground between these two extremes: Maintain a moderate (but aggressive) calorie deficit of 20-25%.
In other words, when you cut, you are eating around 75% of your TDEE. For most people, this equates to 10 to 12 calories per pound of body weight per day.
This formula may seem simple, but it usually gives very accurate results that are on par with more complex equations.
However, if you want a slightly more accurate formula for estimating your BMR, TDEE, and the number of calories you should be eating per day to lose weight, read the Legion TDEE calculatorwho does all the math for you.
What is the best BMR equation?
Lots of people mess themselves up trying to figure out what the "best" equation is to estimate their BMR, but it's a waste of time.
No BMR equations are 100% accurate for all people under all circumstances. Your lifestyle, genetics, diet, and daily habits make your actual BMR a moving goal that formulas are unlikely to achieve. Additionally, they all tend to get results that are within 100 to 200 calories of each other, which is too little of a difference to warrant cracking hairs across different formulas.
Fortunately, BMR equations don't have to be spot-on to serve their intended purpose – they just have to be good enough for you to know where to start.
Then you can increase or decrease your calorie intake depending on how your body is actually responding to your diet. When you find that you do not decrease You can subtract 100-200 calories from your daily caloric intake at any time as fast as you want to pick up the pace.
Because of this, you're probably still curious about how the various BMR equations compare, so let's quickly review their pros and cons.
One of the most commonly used BMR equations is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation, the produced very accurate results on par with other equations, but doesn't require a lot of math or yours Body fat percentage.
One catch with the Mifflin-St Jeor equation is that it assumes you are a relatively normal one Body composition (normal muscles and 10 to 20% body fat in men and 20 to 30% in women).
Hence, the equation can underestimate the BMR of people with above average muscle mass (especially if they also have below average body fat levels) and overestimate the BMR of people in the opposite boat.
So why not use a BMR equation that includes lean body mass, like the Katch-McArdle equation?
You can, but there are two reasons why I usually recommend the Mifflin-St Jeor equation instead:
- Most of them have a hard time accurate estimate of your body fat percentage, and relatively small mistakes can negate all of the possible benefits of the equation. That is, if the equation is 5% more accurate, but your estimate of body fat percentage differs by 20% (relatively), this is a wash.
- The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is simpler and provides estimates that are almost identical to the Katch-McArdle equation for most people.
(That is, the Legion TDEE calculator now you can choose which equation to use to estimate your BMR. If you feel like you know exactly your body fat percentage, use the Katch-McArdle equation!).
The first point is self-explanatory: Many people think they are significantly slimmer than they are, which, using the Katch-McArdle equation, leads to an overestimated BMR.
The second point, however, requires a little more explanation.
Although muscle burns more calories than body fat, the differences are not important in practice.
research shows that a pound of muscle burns around 6 calories a day (not 50 as many fitness gurus claim) and fat burns around 2 calories a day. That is threefold relative Difference, but trivial absolutely Difference that has little impact on your TDEE.
For example, I have about 40 to 50 pounds more muscle than most guys my size (6-1, 195 pounds, ~ 10% body fat, and 36 years old) and the Mifflin-St.-Jeor equation fixes my BMR at 1,872 calories per day.
The Katch-McArdle equation, which accounts for my extra muscle mass and low body fat percentage, puts my BMR at 2,089 calories per day – about 200 more calories. In the scheme of things, this is too little to matter.
It is possible that the Mifflin-St Jeor equation slightly underestimates my energy needs and the Katch-McArdle equation slightly overestimates my needs. I will never know my true BMR with absolute certainty (even fancy devices to measure it.) are not 100% accurate), so it just matters that I eat the same amount every day and adjust my calorie intake as needed.
So if you cut and a TDEE equation (which does the BMR calculation) says you should be eating 2,500 calories a day to lose weight and you aren't losing weight, then regardless of the math says you need to eat less.
Likewise if you lean filling, and one formula says that you should be eating 3,000 calories a day to gain weight, but you are not gaining weight, then you need to eat more.
And what about the Harris-Benedict equation?
This is also a workable formula that produced Results similar to the others but most researchers Consider the Mifflin-St Jeor, to be a little more precise. There's also the revised Harris-Benedict equation, which is believed to be a bit more accurate than the original.
Finally, I want to share one more equation with you that is handy because of its simplicity: The Lyle McDonald Resting metabolic rate (RMR) equation. Here it is:
Male RMR: 11 times body weight in pounds
RMR for women: 10 x body weight in pounds
Yes it is, regardless of your body composition.
RMR is slightly different from BMR, but for our purposes here they are basically interchangeable.
(The BMR is an estimate of the minimum number of calories your body needs to sustain life, while the RMR is the actual number of calories you burn at rest, influenced by factors such as previous activity, sleep, and food consumption. )
My general recommendation is to use the Mifflin-St Jeor or Katch-McArdle equation if you have a calculator that does the heavy lifting for you (like the Legion TDEE calculator) or you want to be as precise as possible, and the Lyle McDonald equation if you want a quick and dirty solution that is almost as accurate in practice.
All BMR equations are estimates of your actual BMR, not precise measurements. Use them to set a starting point for your caloric intake, then adjust it up or down depending on your body's response.
+ Scientific references
- Frankenfield, D., Roth-Yousey, L. & Compher, C. (2005). Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolism in Healthy, Non-Obese, and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105 (5), 775-789. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.005
- Schöffelen, P. F. M. & Plasqui, G. (2018). Classic experiments in whole-body metabolism: Open-Circuit-Repirometry – systems with a diluted flow chamber, hood or face mask. In European Journal of Applied Physiology (Vol. 118, Issue 1, pp. 33-49). Springer publishing house. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-017-3735-5
- McClave, S.A. & Snider, H.L. (2001). Dissect the body's energy needs. In Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care (Volume 4, Issue 2, pp. 143-147). Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.https: //doi.org/10.1097/00075197-200103000-00011
- Amirkalali, B., Hosseini, S., Heshmat, R., & Larijani, B. (2008). Comparison of the equations of Harris Benedict and Mifflin-ST Jeor with indirect calorimetry in the evaluation of the energy expenditure at rest. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 62 (7), 283-290. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5359.42024
- Lowe, M.R., Doshi, S.D., Katterman, S.N. and Feig, E.H. (2013). Diets and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. In Frontiers in Psychology (Volume 4, SEP Edition). Frontiers Media SA. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577
- Jacquet, P., Schutz, Y., Montani, J.P., & Dulloo, A. (2020). How Dieting Could Make Some Fatter: Modeling the Weight Cycle Towards Obesity from a Body Composition Autoregulation perspective. International Obesity Journal, 44 (6), 1243-1253. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-020-0547-1
- Pesta, D.H. & Samuel, V.T. (2014). A High Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats. In Nutrition and Metabolism (Volume 11, Issue 1). BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
- Levine, J.A., Schleusner, S.J. & Jensen, M.D. (2000). Energy consumption of non-sporting activity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72 (6), 1451-1454. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/72.6.1451
If you enjoyed this article, we will send you weekly updates. It is free.
Large! You are subscribed.
100% privacy. We do not rent or share our email lists.