How To Find Your TDEE.
I know what you’re thinking right now. What is a TDEE? TDEE refers to your total daily energy expenditure. All of the calories that you burn every day, regardless of how they are burned counts towards your TDEE. Understanding your TDEE and making efforts to adjust it is a crucial step to effective weight loss.
Metabolism is a nebulous term that is used to describe the cumulative chemical processes that constantly occur in your body. All of these processes use our stored resources like fat. Even if we aren't active and are just resting, or even asleep, these processes are still whirring away constantly burning fat. Having a higher metabolism means you burn fat much faster.
Unfortunately, your metabolism cannot be easily changed, and genetics play a large role in it. Instead of trying to change it, we use it as a frame of reference to see how much our body is equipped to handle and make adjustments around it.
How to calculate your TDEE
Importance of TDEE
Calculating your TDEE is vital to understanding what direction you need to go with your weight loss. The first step to effective planning is to calculate your TDEE. This information will let you find out how your calorie expenditure lines up with your calorie intake. Ideally, your intake is near parity with your expenditure.
Calculate your TDEE with an app
You can make life significantly easier for yourself by using an app to help you with the calculations. If you use a calorie tracker app it will use a predictive equation to guess what your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is. This is the energy you use sitting on your bum all day (plus a couple of other things like the thermic effects of food).
After RMR a calculation to estimate your physical activity levels (PAL) then gives you your presumed calorie requirement for each day factoring in exercise.
This calorie calculator does the maths for you.
However, the equation is only an estimate and the actual number could be very slightly inaccurate, the human body is extremely complicated and can be hard to accurately record. Plus, PAL is highly inaccurate given that we never really know how much energy we are spending during any given activity or exercise.
I have used equations like this with many clients and always have to tweak the numbers to get their true TDEE and even then there’s a margin for error, but so long as you are consistent, that becomes less of an issue.
How to track your calories
One method that’s a little easier and requires a lot less number crunching is to track a week or, maybe, two weeks’ worth of food on your app. Be mindful during this period. Do not make any changes during this period, keep your diet as accurate to your normal diet as possible to improve how accurately your reading reflects reality. Do not starve yourself.
Be honest, weigh and track everything you eat and double check the numbers you input into the app. If you are misreporting this won’t work. Weigh yourself at the same time on the same scale each week, for example on Monday morning before breakfast at 7 am.
Ignore the targets and alerts in the app, these will be wrong and you’re not aiming for weight loss at this point anyway. You’re trying to find your maintenance calories. The goals will be inaccurate until you have your recorded data to help set your goals.
After you have collected 7 or 14 days’ worth of information you need to total it all up and then divide by either 7 or 14 (depending on how many days you tracked) and this will give you your TDEE. Again, this will be slightly inaccurate due to how short of a time frame we are recording, but it's accurate enough for our purposes.
If your body weight remains unchanged then you are at maintenance and now you can calculate your energy deficit by reducing your TDEE by 10-20%. Make sure you make realistic adjustments and plan out achievable goals, your body needs to change gradually for the healthiest results.
Example of calculated TDEE
After 7 days your total is 18,900 kcal. Divide this by 7 which gives you 2,700 kcal a day. This is your calculated calorie intake, comparing this against your TEED lets you make reasonable, achievable changes to your lifestyle. For example, if we reduced our intake by 10% we can figure out what effect that will have against our TEED.
2,700 x 0.9 (10%) = 2,430 kcal a-day to lose 1 lb of body fat per week (more or less). Through this method of tracking our calorie intake and cross-referencing with our TEED, we can make a personalised plan of action.
This will only work if your training is consistent each week. If you trained 5 times during the week you tracked but usually only train twice the numbers will be wrong. The initial tracking period will also work as a learning experience for you to better understand the energy density of your food and the nutrient content too.
It may take you two or three attempts to get it right but that’s all part of the learning process. This is also a great time to be more mindful about your food and activity. How do the foods you eat make you feel, how is your energy, your satiety, your exercise, recovery, and sleep? These health factors give you clues as to whether you are eating the wrong foods, eating too much or too little. Using a calorie tracker and keeping track of these health factors are a great way of ensuring that everything is going well. Listen to your body, it wants to be heard