What Is TDEE and how to calculate total daily energy expenditure?

In the quest for a healthier lifestyle, managing our weight plays a crucial role. Whether you’re looking to shed a few pounds or gain some muscle, understanding your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) can be a game-changer. Let’s break down the basics of TDEE in simple terms and explore how it can help you achieve your weight goals.

Table of Contents

What is TDEE?

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. It’s the total number of calories your body needs in a day to maintain your current weight, considering all your daily activities, from breathing to exercising. Knowing your TDEE is like having a personalized roadmap for your body’s energy needs.

Components of TDEE

Your TDEE is made up of three main components:

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): This is the number of calories your body needs at rest to perform basic functions like breathing and maintaining body temperature. It’s like the energy your car engine needs to idle.
  2. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): This represents the calories burned during the digestion and absorption of food. Different foods require different amounts of energy for processing.
  3. Physical Activity: This includes the calories burned through all types of activities, from walking and cleaning to structured exercise like running or weightlifting.

How to calculate TDEE?

Calculating your TDEE involves a bit of math, but fear not – it’s not rocket science. There is a popular and accurate TDEE calculator that can help you estimate your TDEE based on factors like age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. These calculators use equations to give you a ballpark figure of the calories you need each day.

Weight Loss and TDEE

If your goal is weight loss, understanding TDEE is essential. Weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories than your TDEE. This creates a calorie deficit, prompting your body to tap into stored energy (fat) to make up the difference.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • Calorie Intake < TDEE = Weight Loss

For example, if your TDEE is 2,000 calories and you consistently eat 1,800 calories a day, you create a deficit of 200 calories daily. Over time, this adds up, leading to weight loss.

However, it’s crucial to create a sustainable calorie deficit. Extremely low-calorie diets can be harmful, depriving your body of essential nutrients and energy.

Weight Gain and TDEE

On the flip side, if you’re aiming to gain weight (in the form of muscle, ideally), you need to consume more calories than your TDEE. This is known as a calorie surplus.

  • Calorie Intake > TDEE = Weight Gain

Let’s say your TDEE is 2,000 calories, and you consistently eat 2,200 calories a day. This surplus provides your body with extra energy to build muscle mass.

Remember, it’s not just about eating any calories; focus on a balanced diet with sufficient protein to support muscle growth.

Adjusting TDEE for Goals

TDEE isn’t static; it can change based on various factors like age, activity level, and body composition. As your weight changes, so does your TDEE. Therefore, it’s crucial to reassess and adjust your calorie intake as needed.

  1. Weight Loss: If you hit a plateau in your weight loss journey, you might need to reassess your TDEE and create a larger calorie deficit by either reducing your calorie intake or increasing your physical activity.
  2. Weight Gain: If your goal is to gain weight but progress is slow, consider increasing your calorie intake slightly. This might involve adding more healthy snacks or incorporating an extra meal into your daily routine.


In the journey towards a healthier weight, TDEE is your trusty guide. By understanding and managing your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, you gain control over your body’s energy balance. Whether you’re striving to shed a few pounds or bulk up with muscle, TDEE provides the foundation for effective and sustainable weight management. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers; prioritize a balanced diet, stay active, and make choices that support your long-term well-being.

About the author

Balram Saw

My name is Balram Saw and by profession, I am a lecturer. I did my masters in M.sc Zoology. On this blog, I share all the information related to biology.

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