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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172 Comments

  1. Stephanie 2 hours ago

    28 yo female, at 196 and 5’4″. I’ve been stuck at this weight since starting a new job, which is rather sedentary (previously did a similar job but took the train to the city so I walked a lot before and after work). I’ve increased my caloric intake from 1500 to 1750 (now 500 below my needs) I was exhausted and always starving. I’ve started a new workout routine. (previously warm up, weights pyramid lifts, and stretch 4 days a week | now 30-minute cardio, with 20-second high-intensity intervals every 5 minutes 3 days a week) Wish me luck. Anyway, one of my concerns was that my caloric intake was too low, and impacting my metabolic rate. Any insight on this?

    Reply
    • James 1 min ago

      Yes, you’re previous intake was too low. You are at the right amount now. Persevere with this over the next few weeks and see how you go.

      Reply
  2. Elena 8 hours ago

    I am a female , 36 years old . I train 5 to 6 days a week, 35-40 min a day( 4 days weight training + 2 HIIT ) for the last one and a half year . I eat around 1700 like 97% of the time . The thing is, I lost Nothing , not even one pound in tha last 14 months . I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am 87 kg and I am stuck here no matter what …

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 4 hours ago

      Hi Elena, That sounds frustrating. It could be a number of things. But I imagine it has to do with over-estimating your calorie burn. If you need some expert help in determining what you should be eating, please consider one of our coaching options here.

      Reply
  3. Brad 5 days ago

    I’m 36yr Male and really struggling to figure out how to lose weight. Currently weighing in at 93kgs and 6ft tall. I would say my work is lightly active and after it I weight at the gym 5days/week for approx 1.5hrs, includes warm up and cool down on treadmill. My Fitbit calculates my TDEE at approx 3500-4000cals per day on average. I continue to add weight or maintain 92kgs unless I eat about 1750cals per day. This doesn’t seem to match any of the advice or calculates online and it’s really messing my my progress. I feel like there something else causing the issues. My Doc has done blood tests and all come up in tip top shape. I count calories religiously and still just cant figure it out. Is it possible that I need to still eat less? Please help im close to giving up on my weight loss goals!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 5 days ago

      Hi Brad, There’s probably a few things going on. If I were to coach you, I’d have to delve into your eating/dieting history and look at your macro percentages. I would also look at your muscle to fat ratio. If you’re hitting the gym heavy, you are probably gaining some muscle. Since it’s nothing medical, the answer is how you are eating and how you’re exercising. However, it’s a bit more involved than what I can offer here in the comments. Please consider one of our coaching options here.

      Reply
  4. Ulises 1 week ago

    Hi i am 18yrs old and usually do martial arts for 1hr and 30mins then head to the gym for 30-45mins. My bmr is 1690cals/day… I don’t know what kind of activity level i should put if im only training for about 2hours a day and should i take away calories from my bmr?!? I tend to eat at 1400cals a day and dont really get hungry but i am also at 18% body fat and 47% muscle mass… Only problem is that i dont know if im cutting out calories correctly!!! Please help im so lost!!!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 1 week ago

      It sounds like you are undereating. It also seems like you would be very active based on your exercise. I suggest that you have a look at our macro calculator which will let you choose 20% deficit or 10% deficit. It seems like at your stage you would want just a 10% deficit.

      Reply
  5. Kristy 1 month ago

    Hi im a 34 yr old female 166cm and 105kg i am breastfeeding and have an office job 5 days a week i try get to the gym at least twice a week. My tdee is 2089 and my bmr is 1747 so to lose weight does that mean i should be eating less than my bmr or around 1800 calories a day??

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 1 month ago

      Hi Kristy, If your TDEE is 2089 after factoring for breastfeeding and exercise, you would then deduct 20% of those calories for weight loss. This would be 418 calories for a weight loss TDEE of 1671 calories per day.

      Reply
    • Mandy 1 month ago

      Kristy- you should look up IIFYM & Breastfeeding group on Facebook. The moderator is certified in calculating macros for breastfeeding women. She says that you should be eating 1800-2200 calories (at a minimum) so that your supply doesn’t tank. If you go with thr 1600 suggested here, as soon as you stop breastfeeding you would have to cut lower than the 1600 to lose anymore weight. As you stated your BMR is 1747. So, eating 1600 isn’t enough to sustain your basic bodily functions at rest.

      Reply
  6. Sam 2 months ago

    This could possibly be the most vauge and misleading calculator i have ever seen. The thing doesnt even ask for a body fat percentage ! Oh lord.

    Reply
    • James 2 months ago

      Perhaps instead of taking the time to write your hyperbole, you might have noticed that by clicking the Lean Mass formula, a box for entering your body fat percentage appears…

      Reply
  7. Cricket 2 months ago

    Hi there, Im a 38years old mother of two. I currently weigh 118kg. My TDEE is 2279 amd BMR is 1900. I have my food calculator set at 1900 cals/day and usually burn around 400cals on my elliptical 5 times a week…yet this week I gained 4lbs….Last week I was eating approx 2200-2700 cals a day but would workout for an hour on the elliptical at a 20 incline for an hour..burning approx. 830cals…I dont understand what Im doing wrong to cause this weight gain…PLEASE HELP

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Cricket, A couple things. Since you have excess fat tissue (>50 pounds/25 kgs), it is likely skewing the formula which is recommending you to eat more than you should be. Secondly, you need to deduct 20% from your TDEE to put yourself in a calorie deficit. Thirdly, you are overestimating your calorie burn for an hour on an elliptical. This means last week you were in a calorie surplus. I’d be happy to calculate everything correctly for you if you feel led to chose one of our coaching options. I think it would be beneficial for you since you won’t have success with traditional calculations.

      Reply
  8. Jennifer 2 months ago

    Hello,
    I am a 39 y/o female. I am currently 171 pounds. I have a desk job. I walk at a brisk pace for 2.5 hours at least 4 times a week for 2-3 miles. My TDEE is 1776 and my BMR is 1336. I use an app to track my food intake. I am currently eating around 1500 calories a day (this is up from 1300). I follow a LCHF lifestyle. My issue is I am getting light-headed every day. My Carb/Fat/Protein levels are as follows 20/120/94 which is 5%/25%/70%. Could you offer any advice on why I am light-headed and not losing weight? Additionally, my blood sugar stays in the high 60 to 80 range and I do not have diabetes of any sort.

    Reply
    • Jennifer 2 months ago

      The 2.5 hours on the first line was a mistake. It is less than an hour. My average pace is 17’07” MI.

      Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Jennifer,
      You aren’t eating enough carbs and too much protein. Your body is actually burning protein for energy which is not what you want. Protein is expensive and not an efficient energy source. I suggest you go with a more balanced approach. Check out our macro calculator and use “light” for the exercise setting. On a day you don’t walk you should be eating at sedentary levels. Don’t be afraid of carbs, they do not make people fat unless you eat them in excess.

      Reply
  9. Taz 2 months ago

    Hi, I am 37 years old, 173cm and 75kg, I work from home, 3 times a week I weight train (compound movements) followed by a 3 HIIT Cardio session, the rest of the day, until sleep I am just sat down working. I walk for 1 hour, 4 times a week to burn 300 calories. Apart from that I am sat down all day or doing very basic things. In the calculator would I put that down as Moderately Active? I am trying to burn belly fat and for the past 3months have not lost more than 3 pounds. My calories are 1840 with protein at 45% (207 grams) Fat 20% (41 grams) and Carbs 35% (161 grams). I was originally eating 2000 calories but I just was putting on more weight doing the same exercises.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 2 months ago

      Hi Taz, What you described sounds like light activity to me. This is probably why you aren’t losing very fast. You are in too little of a deficit and you are eating way too much protein! The only thing you are doing there is spending too much money and putting a strain on your kidneys at that amount.

      Reply
  10. Kirsty 3 months ago

    Hi, I’m a 25yr old girl, I have a office job but I do a combination of classes (AMRAP, boxing) and weight lifting around 5 times a week.. I am 5ft5 and weight 66kg currently. My BMR is accordingly 1480 I aim to eat 1500 but struggle to hit that at days. I currently do intermitting fasting so I have an eating window between 12-9 ish.. I am currently eating low fodmap due to unknown stomach issues (suspected colitis..?!)..

    In October I weighed 63kg and I went to 69kg.. I have only been gaining. I lost the recent weight due to illness.. I am baffled as to why I can’t loose any?!

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Hi Kristy, Remeber your BMR is how many calories your body uses to keep your body alive without any skeletal movement. So, if you are eating barely 1500 and doing the intense type of exercise you described, you are not eating enough. Give this article a read. You have to support your exercise with the right nutrition.

      Reply
  11. Dee 3 months ago

    My TDEE is 1412. I am 5’2″, 66 years old, sedentary at the moment due to multiple issues, and currently weigh 151.8. I have been stalling for a month (lost 1/3 of a pound). I do low carb due to diabetes, i.e. have 30 or below carbs per day, 80 or below fat, and around 60-75 protein. I have lost 37 pounds since January but it slowed down considerably in the past 3 months, and now it is a snail’s pace. My goal is 127 or so and I was hoping to get there by the end of the year (in 5 months) but I don’t think that is going to happen. I have about 1050-1200 a day but sometimes go above a bit because it’s hard to do that and it screws with metabolism.

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      Hi Dee, There can be many reasons for a plateau but do try to eat at least 1200 calories per day. Eating too little can slow down your metabolism. Also, it’s a good idea to have a look at your thyroid function and other hormone levels.

      Reply
      • Dee 3 months ago

        I’ve had those checked recently (not sure if I’ve had all checked,but many)and they are ok.I know eating too little can slow down metabolism which why it becomes harder to lose each time or to keep weight off. I try to stay between 1100-1200-mostly I am closer to 1200 with some days higher so it probably averages out to 1200. I wish I knew the reasons for my plateau though! I’m getting upset as I also want my diabetic numbers down and I have sleep apnea and struggling with a minimal mask. Stress isn’t helping but I lost with stress before!

        Reply