TDEE Calculator : A Tool for Weight Loss That Trumps ALL Else

Use this calculator to quickly find your Total Daily Exercise Expenditure (TDEE).

Age

Gender

Weight

Height

Formula ?If you know your body fat %, Lean Mass formula may be more accurate.

Activity Level

Your TDEE is:

Not sure how to use this? Read on and find out!

As I’ve mentioned before my journey towards health (and looking like a greek god) is not an easy one.

Despite there being more information on health and fitness today than ever before, I’ve found myself getting confused and frustrated by all the mixed messages.

After what feels like 100’s of hours of research (I’m a geek), I’ve found a few principles that seem to be the “keys” to effective and sustainable weight loss. One of them is the importance of building healthy habits into your life. Another one is having the belief you can actually do it.

In this brief post we’ll talk about what I feel is the most important one of all.

TDEE – The Science Behind Weight Loss

Every day your body burns a specific number of calories just by existing. This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate. The BMR is based on your weight, height, and age. (Calculate your BMR here)

When you exercise or simply expend energy through physical activity, you burn additional calories. When you combine your BMR with the calories you burn through physical activity, you get your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

This is what is known as your maintenance calories. If you eat this amount of calories you will maintain your weight.

So How Do I Lose Weight?

You lose weight by having a calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit is eating less than your body needs to maintain itself and thus creating a deficit. Ever had more bills than you had money? You had a financial deficit. A calorie deficit is having less energy than you need to stay the same weight.

Let’s say that based on your age, weight, and height your BMR is 1700 calories and through some physical activity you end up with a TDEE of 2300 calories. To maintain your weight you simply eat 2300 calories every day.

To gain weight you eat more than your TDEE and to lose weight you eat less.

Of course, you can also achieve a deficit through burning more calories through exercise.

Every effective diet I’ve come across, whether it’s high fat, low fat, high carb, low carb, uses a calorie deficit to achieve weight loss.

how many calories to eat

How Many Calories Are We Talking?

Technically you can eat nothing all day and achieve weight loss through having a calorie deficit.

Many “miracle diets” claim incredible results through eating specific magical foods or using unique protocols. Unfortunately many diets out there are nothing more than glorified Crash Diets. These diets put you into severe caloric deficit resulting in, yes weight loss (usually short-term), but they can also cause health complications and damage to your metabolism.

To avoid doing damage, the general recommendation I’ve found and used is 500 calories less than your TDEE. Some people advise more, but I’ve found that to be unnecessary.

Also, having any more than a 500 calorie deficit makes it likely that along with losing fat you will lose lean muscle, which is not ideal as lean muscle helps burn additional calories.

There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so at 500 calories a day you will lose a pound in a week. (See how much exercise burns a pound of fat here.)

Note that your body can become conditioned to the same repeated exercise. This can affect your TDEE (see more about this).

get started

How Do I Get Started?

I suggest that you use Macro Counting to accomplish the goal of creating a calorie deficit in order to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.

Counting Macros (a.k.a. flexible dieting) is non-restrictive and allows you to eat all of your favorite foods as long as they fit within your TDEE and macro goals.

You could eat unhealthy foods and still achieve weight loss (as demonstrated by The Twinkie Diet). but weight loss and health are not mutually exclusive. My advice would be to fill the majority of your diet with fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. This way you can feel great AND achieve weight loss.

We have a multitude of Macro tracking resources on this site, plus a comprehensive program that you can buy and get started straight away.

Don’t get bogged down by the latest and greatest research coming out of universities you’ve never heard of. All the conflicting diets and controversial advice from health gurus are enough to give anyone a headache.

Focus on your TDEE, which has proven time and time again, to be the most important tool for weight loss and getting healthier.

Just remember that whatever you decide to eat – the above information is enough for the majority of the population to get started losing weight.

You'll Love Our Macro Solution Program

Step-by-step ebooks, or fully customized personal macros coaching. Now with complete vegan edition.

    Citations:

  • Rising, R., Harper, I. T., Fontvielle, A. M., Ferraro, R. T., Spraul, M., & Ravussin, E. (1994). Determinants of total daily energy expenditure: variability in physical activity. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 59(4), 800-804. study link
  • Schulz, L. O., & Schoeller, D. A. (1994). A compilation of total daily energy expenditures and body weights in healthy adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 60(5), 676-681. study link
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132 Comments

  1. sanjeev kapoor 2 weeks ago

    I started with 5000 steps over 2 months I have graduated to 17000 steps
    lost 12 kg , now I consume 2300 calories daily and burn 1300 calories
    feel low on energy some times please advise as i want to loose 12 kg more
    I am 6 feet tall male 49 years was 112 kg at present after 2 months 100 kg target is to reach 85 kg

    Reply
  2. Sharon 2 weeks ago

    I want to clarify something… is the TDEE calculation just based on everyday movement, or are we supposed to include exercise? I normally am sedentary at my job, but I do 30-45 min of cardio + 30 minutes of training at least 4 days per week.

    Reply
    • James 2 weeks ago

      TDEE stands for TOTAL daily energy expenditure. So therefore includes all activity – both intentional exercise + normal daily movement.

      Reply
      • Sharon 2 weeks ago

        So, would you say that my workout routine falls into moderately active or lightly? I’m totally confused – too many years of dieting for starvation! I’m currently eating about 1950-2000 cal per day. My TDEE is calculating 2409 for light, and 2716 for moderate. I tend to burn anywhere from 2500-3000 calories depending on the intensity for the day.

        Reply
        • James 2 weeks ago

          Probably falls into Moderate level.

          Reply
        • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

          Hi Sharon, Your TDEE seems really high to me. Are you sure that’s correct? If you are using an activity tracker, they have been shown to greatly over-estimate calorie burn. Unless you are a very tall woman with a lot of muscle mass and have a very active job, I don’t think it’s likely that you are burning 2500-3000 calories a day.

          Reply
          • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

            Are you eating enough? What does this calculator tell you?

  3. Maria 2 weeks ago

    Hey Ted, thanks for posting these, I find the resources very useful. I am 36y, 168cm, 75kg, and cross fit 4-5 times per week for the last 6 months. I’ve had a hard time figuring out what the maintenance and weight loss calories level are for me. In 2015-2016 I went from 99kg to 69kg (during one year) with keto. Right now I want to go from 75kg to 65kg without losing muscle mass, and I try to aim for 55-60% fat, 30% protein, and the rest carbs (broccoli and spinach, basically). I try to eat between 1200 cal and no more than 1800 cal (I use my fitness pal and log workouts, but this are not net calories). I am so confused by all these measurements, though. I’ve done the fat loss calculator using waist measurement and got approx 20% body fat (although visually I estimate I am more between 25% and 30% at the moment, while the BMI tells me I am overweight (at 27). What I really would appreciate is if you could help me figure out what to eat and when. I assume a cycle diet is best, where I can eat less on my rest days (Mon & Fri) when I do not do Cross fit. I tend to walk quite a bit as well, as the only other form of exercise. I’ve had some injuries (light) last month because I was severely under-eating (1200-1400 cal on avg, total cal not net cal) and now I am trying to eat more and especially more intelligently.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

      Hi Maria, Glad you appreciate and find the resources helpful. Because of what you’re asking is a little more involved than what can be addressed in a comment, I suggest you consider coaching with me. That way I can fully evaluate your situation and calculate your optimal macros for you.

      Reply
  4. Jen Sturm 2 weeks ago

    Started this program in November 2017. Have lost over 25lbs , but am struggling with the last 7lbs. 50yr female 5’7” 142 goal weight 135. CrossFit 3-5 days a week depending on work schedule. Been doing CrossFit for 2 years consistently. As my fitness level has gone up, I am able to do much more in CrossFit (I just did Murph without scaling any of the movements). My upper body is showing definition (shoulders, arms, abs, but lower body is not. I’ve switched to the lose 10% numbers instead of the “lose”. Should I continue with high protein, which is what I’ve been doing? Also, on days I work, I work 24 hour shifts. Should I plug in those days as sedentary days (I work in a hospital and sometimes am very busy others not so much). I’m just trying to figure out how to get myself more lean, and feel like progress has stalled. Would appreciate any input!!! Thanks

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 weeks ago

      Hi Jen, Great job on your success so far! It’s always good to have a rest day set of macros, especially if the movement of your job is just casually walking around or hit and miss. 10% might also be good since you are looking to add muscle. The high protein part is up to you. I’m not sure how much protein you’ve been consuming but you should really max out at around 140 grams per day. Other than that, I would have to evaluate how much you were eating and run new numbers for you which I could do as part of one of our coaching packages.

      Reply
  5. Harry 3 weeks ago

    Hi , My TDEE is 2300 Cal and My BMR is 1600 , I understand that I should not go less than my BMR and , now am following a diet plan with 1600 cal as per my BMR and additionally am burning approx. 400 Cal through workour 4-5 times a week. Here is my doubt, am I making a deficit of TDEE-BMR ? i.,e 2300 – 1600 = 700 cal plus 400 cal through workout.. so total 1100 cal ? or am just burning out those 400 cal ? Please help me understand.

    Reply
    • James 3 weeks ago

      Harry, your TDEE should be inclusive of all exercise undertaken. So if you are looking to lose fat, you need a deficit of around 20% (so 20% x 2300 = 460 cals). So, each day you are aiming for (2300-460 = 1840) around 1840 cals.

      If you need help with this, please take a look at our personal coaching packages here.

      Reply
  6. Patty 3 weeks ago

    Hi
    I dont know what to think…I’m hitting close to macros as I can…feeling great! I’m working for fatloss but I don’t see much 7 days later and the weight says I gained 1 pound? What is wrong 🙁

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 weeks ago

      Hi Patty, How did you estimate your exercise?

      Reply
  7. Jenna 1 month ago

    My TDEE is 1973, I’m a 26, 5’4 female. My BMR is about 1565. So if I take away 500 cal to create a deficit, I end up with 1390ish cals
    Mind you, each time I start a diet 1500/day I feel very very fatigued and cannot function. That’s why I fail each time. The diets I’ve tried were very healthy, just smaller portions and it did not work for me. I get so weak! Why?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 1 month ago

      Hi Jenna,

      Why are you deducting 500? It should be 20%, so from 1973 that would be a deduction of 395 calories. Anytime you diet you have to remember the “set point weight theory” This states that your body wants to remain the weight you currently are so when you start eating less, it tries to preserve itself by feelings of hunger and even fatigue. You really have to push through the first couple of weeks until your body adjusts.

      Reply
  8. Ashley 1 month ago

    What should I do if the TDEE is 1330…? Taking 500 off that isn’t reasonable and I’m already tired… I’m 71kg, 173cm, goal weight 62kg… and fast losing hope. I’ve been trying to do 1200 calories and that’s nearly impossible already to scrape down to! If my TDEE is really 1330 how do I ever lose the weight??

    Reply
    • James 1 month ago

      Have you tried using the calculator https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator
      Your calories seem too low.

      Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 1 month ago

      Hi Ashley, It looks like you entered your numbers wrong. Make sure you select kg. I got a TDEE of 1776 calories for a woman of your height and weight, age 30 (since I didn’t know your age)

      Reply
  9. Michele 2 months ago

    Is counting macros realistic for a vegan who eats very low fat due to heart issues? Think Bob Harper and the diet he’s prescribed now.

    Reply
    • James 2 months ago

      As far as I was aware Bob Harper is following the well-regarded Mediterranean Diet – which includes plenty of olive oil and oily fish. It is not a low-fat diet, and would fit perfectly with macros. However the whole idea of macro counting is to allow nutritional flexibility – which absolutely includes a low-fat vegan diet. Note that there is a vegan edition of the macro solution available here https://healthyeater.com/ebook – just choose the Basic edition and select the Vegan option.

      Reply
  10. Ann 2 months ago

    I am not losing any weight. I’ve been eating about 1600 calories a day for over three weeks. It just won’t budge. I weigh 178, female, 5’3” (I carry most of my weight in my legs and butt). I lift weights 2-3 times a week for ~20 minutes, and swim 2 days a week for 30 minutes.
    Any tips or advice? Should I lower my calories more??? Or should I try to increase and reset it? How does that work?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Do you know how many calories you had been eating prior to starting?

      Reply
  11. janorius 4 months ago

    Thank you very much for the infomation…….

    Reply
    • Antonio Escobedo 3 months ago

      I’m 5’5 150 pounds im trying to lose 20 pounds and only consume 1800 calories a day I walk 2 miles every morning and train in a boxing gym for two hours a day but I feel like I’m getting weaker and not losing weight is this because I’m not eating enough calories am I to active to only eat 1800 calories?

      Reply
      • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

        Yes, you need to eat more. You want to be in no more than a 20% calorie deficit and this is really important for you because you don’t have much weight to lose and are exercising heavily.

        Reply
  12. mohammad khalid 4 months ago

    sir if drink a nutritional shake with milk mix up(approximately having 240 calories of fat pro and carbs)having all micronutrients ….is it enough for me for fat lose effectively…instead of 240 calories…i eat only 760 calories from my normal diet…i mean i complete 1000 calorie diet ,..although my bmr with lightly active is 2300 calorie….and plz tell me how much i can go on deficit calorie intake..for fat lose…if i m a male and for female .?

    Reply
  13. Mary 5 months ago

    I had my BMR tested and it said my BMR is 1710. I do yoga three days a week and HIIT three-4 days a week. But I have a sedentary job and other than my workouts, am pretty sedentary. Should I put light activity level or moderate for my TDEE calculation?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 5 months ago

      It also depends on the duration of the exercise, so I couldn’t advise based on what you described.

      Reply
  14. Michelle 5 months ago

    How should I adjust the calories and macros if I am breastfeeding ?

    Reply
  15. Carolina 5 months ago

    Hi! I have a doubt regarding level of activity to select. I weight 141 pounds and are 5.4´ and want to go down to 121 pounds. I do weight training 3 times a week and spinning the other 3 days. Is this light or moderate? I´m asking because in light exercise I will have to eat 1350, isn´t this a bit low? Thanks so much for your help!

    Reply
  16. Auburn 5 months ago

    So my tdee is 1619 calories. I’m 5’5 and weigh 125. I’m trying to lose weight (maybe 7-10 pounds) so should I go 500 under that? 1,119 calories a day? That seems a little low to me so I’m just checking.

    Reply
    • Samantha 5 months ago

      I could be wrong but to avoId what I went through don’t go under the magic 1200 calories. I went on about 1000 calories a day (I’m 5’2) to lose 6 kgs and ended up with a low heart rate, didn’t lose any weight, was always tiredwhich ceased my training. Guess what got fat and became anxious.
      Hope you get a professional answer here

      Reply
      • Alison simms 1 day ago

        Hi! I’m 5ft1 and1/2, female, 38yrs and 148lbs. I’ve list 5 lbs over the last 6 weeks by increasing my workouts and decrease calorie intake. So I follow the BMR and use 1.2 for activity because I have a desk job. I exercise 3 days/week, usually only cardio for 45 mins. My TDEE is 1554 and BMR IS 1300 according to my calculations as of current. I know the basic rule says 500 calories times 7 days a week to lose a lb a week. I find it hard to follow this. Weight is slow coming off at this point and I’d like to eventually be down to 135 lbs at least. What should I do? Eat 1300 cals a day and 250 calories burned from exercise? How many calories a day do i eat if I burn 500cals through exercise? What about if I don’t exercise any given day?
        Thanks

        Reply