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Calculate Your TDEE 

Total Daily Energy Expenditure

What Determines Whether I Lose, Maintain or Gain Weight?

The answer is very simple...CALORIES.

Calories are energy. You get calories from food. If you don't burn that energy during the day, your body will store the energy in the form of muscle and fat.

What determines whether you gain muscle or fat is what your eating and your exercises.

To Gain Weight: You must eat more calories than you expend.
To Lose Weight: You must expend more calories than you eat.

How Many Calories Do I Need to Consume to Gain or Lose the Weight I Want?

No matter if your goal is to maintain your weight, lose weight or gain weight, you must go through the process we are about to together, which is to find out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is the amount of calories you burn in a day. It could also be thought of as your number of calories you will need to consume to maintain your current weight.

If you want to lose weight, consume less calories than your TDEE (caloric deficit). By causing a caloric deficit you force your body to used its stored energy (fat).

If you want to gain weight, consume more calories than your TDEE (caloric surplus).

Calculate Your Personal TDEE

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure consists of three components:
  1. The energy (calories) needed to maintain the body's basic functions like breathing, heartbeat, nervous system, circulatory system etc. (aka Resting metabolic rate (RMR) or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)) 
  2. The energy your body needs to perform your daily physical activities (e.i., walking, typing, exercising in the gym etc.) 
  3. The energy your body needs to digest your meals and convert it to immediate fuel or fat (fuel for future use) 
To calculate your TDEE we must calculate each of these three components and then add them together. We will calculate your total daily energy expenditure using the popular Harris-Benedict Formula.

For this example, we will use our long-time friend, Freddie McFly.

Age: 35
Weight: 190 lbs (which equals 86.4 kg [divide 190 by 2.2] )
Height: 5'9" (which equals 175 cm)
Activity Level: He loves to sing and dance 3 to 4 times a week

Step 1: Calculate You Resting Metabolic Rate

Men use this formula:

Men's RMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)

Women use this formula:

Women's RMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years)

Freddie McFly's RMR = 66 + (13.7 x 86.4) + (5 x 175) - (6.8 x 35
= 66 + 1,183.7 + 875 - 238
= 1,887 calories (rounded up)

So Freddie McFly's needs approximately 1,887 calories to maintain his basic body functions such as breathing, heartbeat, nervous system, circulatory system etc...

Step 2: Calculate You Activity Multiplier

Pick your activity level from below and multiple it against your RMR:
  • Sedentary (e.g., you do no exercising and have a desk job) = 1.2
  • Lightly active (e.g., you participate in light exercise or sports 1 to 3 times per week) = 1.375
  • Moderately active (e.g., you participate in moderate exercise or sports 3 to 5 times per week) = 1.55
  • Very active (e.g., you train hard 6 to 7 per week in exercise and/or sports) = 1.725
  • Extremely Active (e.g., you exercise or play sports hard everyday & have physical job or  2X day training, i.e. marathon, contest etc.)

RMR Calories x Activity Level Multiplier

Back to our Freddie McFly example.
Freddie likes to sing karaoke and dance three to four times a week. So we will use the "moderately active" activity multiplier of 1.55.
= RMR x Activity Multiplier
= 1,887 x 1.55
= 2,925 calories (rounded up)

Step 3: Calculate Your Energy Requirement for Digestion
We will now add 10% to account for the amount of energy it takes to digest every meal.

Calories Calculated Up to Now + 10%

Freddie McFly's Total Daily Energy Expenditure
= Calories calculated up to now + 10%
= 2,925 + 293
= 3,218

So Freddie McFly's Total Daily Expenditure is 3,218 calories (RMR = 1,887; physical activity = 1,038; digestion of meals = 293).

Now That I have my TDEE, How Many Calories Should I Consume to Reach My Goals?

Goal Amount of Calories to Consume to Reach Your Goals
Maintain my Current Weight Consume the same amount of calories as your TDEE each day
Lose Weight Consume 200 - 300 less calories than your TDEE each day
Gain Weight Consume between 5% - 20% on top of your TDEE each day. 20% is for hardgainers.

Divide this daily calorie amount by the number of meals you plan to have in a day, and you'll come up with the number of calories you need to consume each meal to achieve your goal.

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