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Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

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TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure is one of those terms that you hear thrown around pretty frequently when anyone is trying to lose weight or has joined a gym challenge.

I’ve seen and heard people explain this in a really confusing way so today let’s break this concept down so you can get a better understanding of how to change your body composition when you want to.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure is a calculation of how much estimated energy your body is burning on a daily basis.

This becomes very important if you are looking to make a change to how much body fat you have or how much muscle you walk around with.

First lets very quickly go through the idea of calories in and out.

Your body burns energy for everything that it does. This includes exercise obviously but also less obvious processes like maintaining the correct body temperature, breathing, digestion and keeping your blood circulating. Our bodies don’t respond to verbal commands and you can’t wish fat away, they respond to stimulus and input.

Fat is the way we have adapted to store energy long term when times are good for later, when food may become scarce. The issue we have now is that food is not very scarce anymore. A good way to think about it and the way it’s often explained is that you want to be in a caloric deficit if you want to lose fat, when there isn’t enough energy coming in, your body will catabolise it’s fat stores to meet the energy demands.

So if you want to lose fat, ensure you have less energy coming in than you have going out.

The opposite becomes true if you are looking to gain fat, have more energy coming in than what you need and your body will send it to long term storage.

Understanding this balance is also important if you are looking for muscle gains.

While you need stimulus to grow muscle, your body also needs the building blocks required to create the muscle itself. So an energy surplus will help a great deal if you are looking to stack on some size.

While there are some exceptions to these rules, I am talking about optimal circumstances to give clear examples. These conditions are why bodybuilders so often work in bulking and cutting cycles.

When you get this balance just right, we call it maintenance calories.

So now that we understand a bit of that, let's get back to TDEE.

So as we covered your body burns energy for everything it does, a coma patient still needs calories to survive, and if you’re on the lounge all day watching netflix you are still burning calories.

We call the maintenance calories for your body at complete rest your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. This is your basic metabolism. It’s calculated using your age, height, weight and gender.

To get to your TDEE you multiply your BMR by the amount of exercise you are doing, the end result is an estimate of how many calories you are going to burn each day.

Now muscle is expensive so a jacked bodybuilder sitting on a lounge at rest will burn more calories than someone without much muscle tissue and this also needs to be factored in.

Essentially you want your TDEE to be a starting point that you then test and tweak until you work out exactly what is going on in your own body.

Understand that your TDEE isn’t something you set and forget, I was sick last week and didn’t do much exercise. I didn’t lose any of my appetite though so I gained a kilo or two for the week.

This is important information for anyone tapering into a race week, you also want to lower your caloric intake to suit.

To make things easy, I’ve created a free TDEE calculator at the OMR site, you can find it at

This is the first of a few posts regarding nutrition this month, to line up with the OMR 28 Day Nutrition Reset I have currently running, so let me know what you would like to see next!


Matt Moore

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