TDEE stands for total daily energy expenditure and is a mathematical estimate of the total calories you burn during the day based on your weight, height, age, and activity level.
Calculating your TDEE accurately is important because once you know how many calories you burn each day you can create a nutritional plan that will allow you to systematically lose, gain or maintain your weight depending on your goals.
In other words, once you have your TDEE, you can use that information to manage yours Energy balance correct.
For example . . .
- If you want to lose weight, you need to eat around 20 to 25% less than your TDEE.
- If you want to gain weight, you need to be eating roughly 110% of your TDEE.
- If you want to maintain your current weight, you need to be eating around your TDEE.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about calculating your TDEE, the best equations for estimating your TDEE, how to use your TDEE to lose fat or gain muscle, and much more!
What is TDEE?
Total Daily Energy Use (TDEE) is exactly what it sounds like:
The total amount of energy you use every 24 hours.
It is often expressed in calories, which is a measure of energy. A calorie is the amount of energy required to heat one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (also known as a kilocalorie).
For example, I'm 36 years old, 6-1 and 195 pounds, and I lift weights for about 5 hours and do that Steady state cardio for about 3 hours a week (I'm switching to High intensity interval training when cutting), and my TDEE is about 2,800 calories.
"Wouldn't that number change over the course of the week depending on what you do each day?" You may be wondering.
Yes. Our total daily energy expenditure is a moving goal for a variety of reasons, including exercise, non-physical activities, calorie intake, and even length of sleep.
Fortunately, we don't have to worry about the daily fluctuations. For our purposes we only need to know ours average The total daily energy expenditure that we fitness people actually refer to when we talk about TDEE.
Once you know your TDEE, there are three things you can do to make effective food choices:
- If you regularly eat more than this number of calories per 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.
How to use your TDEE to lose weight
The thing that most determines whether you gain weight or lose weight is Energy balance.
The energy balance is the relationship between the energy you put into your body and the energy it uses up.
You see that scientifically validated, "Boring" reality is this:
- For weight loss to be meaningful, you need to expend more energy than you expend.
- And sensible weight gain (both fat and muscle) requires the opposite: more consumption than effort.
Don't take my word for it. Just look at every single one that is checked Weight loss study Conducted over the past 100 years – including countless meta-analyzes and systematic reviews – all of which have concluded that significant weight loss requires energy expenditure that exceeds energy intake.
So the bottom line is: a century of Metabolic research has proven beyond a doubt that energy balance is the basic mechanism that regulates weight gain and loss.
However, all of this evidence does not mean that you need to count calories to lose weight, but rather that you need to understand how calorie intake and expenditure affect your body weight, and then regulate your intake according to your goals.
Fortunately, it's not difficult.
How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Fat?
As you know, 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 the calories you burn every day? Eighty percent? Fewer?
Some fitness people advocate a "cut slowly”Approach in which you use a mild calorie deficit and a relaxed exercise plan to reduce fat reserves over many months.
The benefits of this are said to be less Muscle loss, More pleasant workoutsand fewer issues related to hunger and Cravings. And something is right here.
Slow cutting is at least slightly easier and in some ways forgiving than a more aggressive approach, but the benefits aren't too significant for most people and come at a high price: duration.
Because slow cutting is good. draggingand for many dieters this is more worrying than eating a little less every day.
For example, if you all calories are the same and you cut your calorie deficit from 20% to 10%, you will cut the amount of fat you lose each week in half and double the time it takes to complete your cut.
This is a problem for most people because the longer they stay in a calorie deficit of any size, the more likely they are to fall off the cart due to life turmoil, poor diet, planning snafus, etc.
Knowing what you are doing can help you maintain a significant calorie deficit that results in rapid fat loss without losing muscle. Suffer in the gym or with rings metabolic hobgoblins.
This allows you to get faster results without sacrificing anything other than calories, and this in turn allows you to spend more time doing the more pleasant things (maintenance and Lean bulking).
Therefore, my recommendation is an aggressive but not reckless calorie deficit of around 25% when cutting.
In other words, if you are cutting, I recommend eating around 75% of your TDEE. For most people, that's 10 to 12 calories per pound of body weight per day.
I didn't pick that 25% figure out of thin air either. Studies show that it works great when combined with fat loss and muscle maintenance Strength training and high protein intake.
For example a study Carried out by scientists from Jyväskylä University (Finland), national and international athletics jumpers and sprinters with low body fat percentage (at or below 10%) divided into two groups:
- Group one was 300 calorie deficit (about 12% on TDEE).
- Group two had a 750 calorie deficit (about 25% on TDEE).
After four weeks, the first group lost very little fat and muscle, and the second group lost an average of about four pounds of fat and very little muscle. None of the groups had any significant negative side effects.
These results also agree with my experience thousands of people.
In combination with a high protein diet and strict Exercise programA calorie deficit of around 25% allows for rapid fat loss and substantial muscle gain without serious side effects.
You can calculate this number by multiplying your TDEE from the calculator by 0.75, or you can use a formula on the back of the envelope to get that number:
10 to 12 calories per pound of body weight per day.
This may seem unsophisticated, but it's what most connoisseurs use to set their cut calories.
This simple formula will give you a number that is about 75% of your TDEE without using a TDEE weight loss calculator.
Some pointers on using this formula:
- If you are a woman, new to weight lifting, and / or exercise less than 3 hours a week, I recommend multiplying your body weight in pounds by 10.
- If you are a man or woman, you will need to exercise for two to three years and / or you will exercise 3 to 6 hours a week. Then multiply your body weight in pounds by 11.
- If you are a man, you have more than 4 years of lifting experience and / or you exercise more than 6 hours a week. Then multiply your body weight in pounds by 12.
For example, using the TDEE calculator, we found that my TDEE is 2,800 calories. So when I cut, I should cut my calories down to around 2,100 (2,800 x 0.75).
This is what the math looks like with the simpler method:
I've been exercising for over 15 years and I exercise about 5.5 hours a week. So I want to multiply my body weight by 11 to estimate my daily calories.
195 x 11 = 2,145 – almost exactly what I get if I multiply my TDEE by 0.75.
Because of the accuracy and ease of use of this formula, I now recommend this in my books Men and Women.
Remember, however, that all formulas, including this one, are estimates only. Regardless of what a TDEE formula tells you, if you experience difficulty losing weight, you will need to adjust your diet or activity level.
In this article, you will learn how:
The definitive guide to why not lose weight
How To Use Your TDEE To Build Muscle
To build a significant amount of muscle, you need to maintain excess calories over time.
This was confirmed in a number of Studies that shows a calorie excess increases Muscle protein synthesis, increases anabolic and lowers catabolic hormone levels and improves exercise performance.
All of that adds up to significantly better muscles and Strength gains over time.
However, you don't want to eat too many more calories than you burn because increasing your food intake after a certain point no longer promotes muscle growth, it only promotes fat gain.
How big should your calorie surplus be to maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gain?
Much less than you can imagine.
A study The study, carried out by scientists from the Norwegian School of Sports Science, provides a vivid example of why. The researchers divided 39 top athletes from different sports (rowing, soccer, ice hockey, etc.) into two groups:
1. Group 1 followed a diet plan created by a nutritionist to achieve a 0.7% increase in body weight per week.
This resulted in the participants increasing their caloric intake from around 2,800 to 3,600 calories per day, which translates into an average caloric excess of 28%. I will refer to this group as the "30% surplus group".
2. Group two were encouraged to eat more calories than they burned each day but did not follow a strict diet. This group essentially used intuitive eating to maintain a slight excess of calories.
In the end, they increased their calorie intake from about 2,900 to 3,200 calories per day, which is an average calorie surplus of 10%. I will refer to this group as the "10% surplus group".
Both groups also lifted weights four times a week and continued their sport-specific training, with each major muscle group being trained twice a week. They all followed their diet and exercise plans (depending on how much weight they wanted to gain) for 8 to 12 weeks.
The researchers measured the weight and body composition of the participants before and after the study using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
Both groups gained almost exactly the same amount of muscle, but the 30% excess group increased their body fat by about 20% while the 10% excess group lost a small amount of body fat.
Here is a table showing the body fat levels of both groups during the study:
(The dotted line represents the 30% excess group and the solid line represents the 10% excess group).
And here is a table that shows the muscle growth of both groups during the study:
As you can see, the 10% excess group built as much muscle as the 30% excess group even though they gained almost no body fat.
The results of this study also agree well with what I have experienced with my own body and working with thousands of others:
The point of decrease returns when Lean bulking is somewhere around 110% of your average TDEE.
That said, if you eat around 110% of your average TDEE, you will likely gain as much muscle as you would eat 120 or 130%, but a lot less fat.
And here is my recommendation for Lean Bulking: Eat about 110% of your average TDEE. For most people, that's 16 to 18 calories per pound of body weight per day.
For me, that would mean eating around 3,100 calories (2,800 x 1.1) a day. And again, this is exactly what I do when I want to start a lean phase of gain, and it results in slow and steady muscle gain with minimal fat gain.
Instead of using the TDEE calculator, you can also use a back-of-the-envelope formula from. . .
16 to 18 calories per pound of body weight per day.
Some pointers on using this formula:
- If you are a woman, new to lifting and / or exercising less than 3 hours a week, I recommend multiplying your body weight in pounds by 16.
- If you are a man or woman who has exercised for two to three years and / or training 3 to 6 hours a week, multiply your body weight in pounds by 17.
- If you are a man, you have more than 4 years of lifting experience and / or you exercise more than 6 hours a week. Then multiply your body weight in pounds by 18.
I'm in the middle. This is how math works for me:
195 x 17 = 3,315
I know from experience that this number is a bit high for me, so I usually go with the more conservative multiplier of 16 calories per pound of body weight when starting my bulks.
This is how it looks:
195 x 16 = 3,120 – again almost exactly what I get if I multiply my TDEE by 1.1.
And that's it!
After you've determined your daily caloric intake for cutting or lean bulking, the next step is to set your macros for cutting or bulking.
In this article, you will learn how:
A Simple and Accurate Macronutrient Calculator (And How To Use It)
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