For those of you who are looking to drop a few pounds, or perhaps a significantly larger amount, one thing you need to realize is that the process is not quick.
In fact, it can last for what may seem like an age, even with the use of a TDEE-Calculator.
You see, when it comes to losing weight, there is often a lot of guesswork involved.
We’re told to aim for a certain amount of exercise each day and to consume a certain amount of calories, yet the thing to remember is that everybody is different.
A 6ft 4, 280-pound bodybuilder’s caloric intakes, for example, will need to be much higher than a 5ft 7, 170-pound man who works a sedentary job and isn’t very physically active.
The thing to remember about losing weight, though, is the fact that it is actually much simpler than some diet creators and personal trainers would have you believe.
It basically boils down to calories in versus calories out.
That’s where a TDEE-Calculator can prove to be so useful.
Here’s a detailed guide on the subject.
Table Of Contents
First thing’s first, we’ll get you started off today, by looking at what a TDEE calculator actually is.
TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure and as you might have guessed from the name, it is the total amount of calories that you have burnt off each day.
Remember, a calorie is a unit of energy and we are constantly burning them every second of every day.
Even something as seemingly basic as breathing requires calories, as well as countless other physiological processes.
Your TDEE can be calculated by looking at your basal metabolic rate, or BMR for short, and your levels of activity.
Now your total daily energy expenditure isn’t just applied when you exercise and are physically active.
It applies 24/7, 365 days per year.
You use energy to breathe, you burn calories when you sleep, you burn calories when you eat, you burn them when you digest food, and you certainly burn them when you’re physically active.
TDEE is sometimes known as your calorie maintenance level.
Basically, this means that the total number of calories that you burn is what you should aim for to maintain your physique in its current form.
Consume fewer calories and you’ll lose weight.
Consume more calories, and you’ll gain weight.
When you begin any new fitness regime, whether it be to lose weight, build muscle, or just get healthy, you need to know your TDEE before you advance any further.
Do you want to know more about your basal metabolic rate?
Okay, no problem.
You remember we mentioned BMR and how you need to know that before you can make use of a TDEE-Calculator?
Well, here’s what you need to know about your BMR.
Your basal metabolic rate is the minimum amount of calories (energy) that your body requires in order to keep you alive.
BMR is basically the number of calories that you are burning constantly, every second of every day, when in a rested state.
As mentioned, you require calories to perform a whole variety of physiological functions and processes from breathing to pumping blood around the body and synthesizing red blood cells.
As you can see, you aren’t just burning calories when exercising, you burn them all of the time.
Granted, you don’t burn as many calories as you do during a circuit training workout, but you are still burning them in order to keep yourself alive, and this is what your BMR is.
The thing to remember is that everybody’s BMR is different.
A 25-year old male athlete, for example, will have a much different BMR to a 75-year old retired woman.
Sex, weight, age, and height are just some of the variables that can affect BMR.
Calculating your TDEE is essential for a whole bunch of different reasons.
It helps to give you an idea of how hard you need to work to meet your fitness goals, it helps show you how much you need to diet, and it can be useful in assessing your overall fitness levels as well.
In order to calculate your TDEE, you can make use of a TDEE-Calculator.
Basically, you will multiply your BMI (Body Mass Index) with an exercise factor and an activity factor.
Some calculators are more advanced than others, and generally, the more advanced and detailed the calculator is, the more accurate your reading will be.
You might be wondering what an activity factor is, and why it is included along with an exercise factor.
After all, they’re both the same thing, aren’t they?
Well, actually, no they aren’t.
An activity factor measures how active you are on average in your daily life.
A few of the different options to select include:
If you select sedentarily, this basically means that you are inactive, you barely exercise, if at all, and you spend much of your day stationery, perhaps sat working at a desk.
If you select lightly active, this means that you do the bare minimum in terms of exercise.
Perhaps you’ll clean the house once a week, and walk up and down the stairs a few times per day.
You may even do some very moderate exercises a few times each week.
If you are moderately active, you’ll likely walk each day for around 45 minutes, or vigorous exercise for up to 50 minutes per day.
If you are very active, this means that much of your day is filled with physical activity.
Not only will you exercise for around 60 – 90 minutes per day, you may also work a physically demanding job which requires you to be on your feet, moving around, lifting things, carrying things, and generally being physically active rather than sitting at your desk in front of a laptop.
If you are extremely active, this means that the vast majority of your day is filled with very physically demanding exercise.
Not only will you exercise very intensely, but once you finish you’ll also be physically active and will work very hard.
You might, for example, be in the military. Soldiers are extremely active from the moment they wake up, pretty much until the moment they go to sleep.
So, we’ve looked at your activity factor, but now it’s time to look at the exercise factor category to see which one best suits you.
The options you can choose from include:
No explanation needed really, but we’ll give it to you anyways. If you select ‘none’ for your exercise factor, this means that you get no exercise at all. It means that the vast majority of your day is spent sitting down.
If you select the light exercise category, this means that you are on your feet for a good portion of the day, walking around the home, etc, and it means that you engage in light exercise once or twice each week.
If you select the moderate exercise category, this means that you are physically active for a good portion of the day, I.E doing chores, walking around the house or the office, and that you engage in physically demanding exercise around 3 – 5 times each week.
If you select the difficult exercise category, this means that you really push yourself when training, and you train intensely 6 – 7 times per week.
Finally, we have an intense category.
This one should be selected if you train like an athlete and really push yourself and don’t know what it means to have a rest day (which you really should, as they are hugely beneficial).
You’ll work out every day, sometimes twice per day, for several hours at a time.
For each activity and exercise factor, you will burn off a certain amount of calories.
If you combine this amount of energy with the amount of energy your body requires to keep you alive (BMR) this gives you your TDEE.
This total daily energy expenditure is the total amount of calories that you are burning off each day.
If you were to try to figure this out in your head, it would take a fair amount of time unless you’re a mathematical genius.
Thankfully, with a TDEE-Calculator, you don’t need to worry.
Most people utilize a TDEE-Calculator in order to help them to lose weight.
Just remember, though, these calculators don’t do the physical work for you, they simply tell you the numbers.
Once you have the numbers, it’s down to you to put in the hard work in order to shift the weight.
Here’s a look at a few handy ways of using TDEE to lose weight.
Okay, so you’ve decided to use the calculator to lose weight.
Once you have your TDEE, experts recommend that you aim to stick as close to that number as possible, to begin with.
The temptation is there to jump in head-first, but the problem is that doing so would come as a shock to the system and could slow things down.
Eating at maintenance will allow your body to get used to eating this amount of calories before you switch things up and reduce caloric intake slightly.
Just remember to recalculate energy expenditure levels each week after you’re taking in fewer and fewer calories.
Once you have your magic number, you can then go about creating a caloric deficit in order to lose weight.
The thing to remember is that you need to create a slight deficit, to begin with, and aim for around 300 – 400 calories below maintenance.
Anything more could be dangerous and would also not be sustainable.
So, if your TDEE is 3100, to lose weight, you might aim to consume 2700 – 2800 calories per day instead.
At the end of the week, this would give you a healthy and sustainable weight loss.
In order for you to reap the rewards of using a calculator, you need to make sure that you are honest with yourself when estimating your activity levels.
The thing to remember is that you need to estimate how active you are outside of the gym.
If you work a sedentary desk job, drive everywhere, and do virtually no walking or physical activity in and around the home and garden, this needs to be logged when calculating your activity levels.
It might hurt the ego, and it might make you feel lazy, but if you lie or overestimate how active you are, the reading you get won’t be accurate.
You might actually wind up gaining weight, or at the very least, not losing it.
Now, when it comes to exercise intensity, you need to know that time at the gym is NOT a measure of exercise intensity.
A person could go to the gym for 3 hours, spend a good 90 minutes of those 3 hours glued to their phone, and do very little activity when training.
On the flip side, an individual could train for jus 40 minutes, move from one exercise to the next, at a fast pace, a high tempo and a high intensity, and burn off hundreds upon hundreds of calories more than the person that “trained” for 3 hours.
Be honest with how intensely you exercise, otherwise, you could get an inaccurate reading, which again might result in weight gain, or stalled weight loss.
Some people when losing weight, don’t like to weigh themselves regularly as they want it to be a nice surprise at the end of their journey.
When using a TDEE calculator, though, you need to weigh yourself because you have to enter your weight to get a reading.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.