Why Your TDEE is Important for Weight Loss

(Last Updated On: August 11, 2011)

istock_000008078422xsmallHi Everyone, as promised, this is the second segment of my two part article concerning weight loss. In last week’s article I explained why your BMR is important to you and how it accounts for 60% to 70% of calories you burn each day. I also discussed ways to increase your BMR and how weightlifting should be embraced and never feared by anyone trying to lose weight. This week I want to get more specific on helping you plan a safe weight loss program and this means first educating you about your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is also called and known as your “maintenance level”. TDEE is the total sum of all the calories you burn in a day and includes calories burned by your BMR, daily activities and exercise. Accurately determining and knowing your TDEE is the most important factor in designing a successful weight loss program. This is why we have now added a TDEE calculator to our free Workout Manager online software that will help you to estimate your TDEE. Notice I used the word “estimate”. This is because even though our calculator uses your age, sex, height and activity level to determine your TDEE, many factors, including your genetics and thyroid function can cause your TDEE numbers to be off. So basically speaking, if your goal is to maintain your weight you need consume the same amount of calories as your TDEE. If your goal is to lose weight then you will need to consume fewer calories than your TDEE and finally, if you are wanting to gain weight you will need to consume more calories than your TDEE. Since the only difference between weight gain programs and weight loss programs is the total number of calories consumed and burned, knowing your correct TDEE is extremely important.

Ok, since this article is about weight loss, let’s keep our focus on the best way to help you accomplish your weight loss goal safely. As I mentioned last week The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that the daily calorie level consumed for woman should never drop below 1200 calories per day and 1800 calories per day for men. In some cases this may still even be too much of a reduction and could cause your BMR to drop significantly.

The average TDEE for women in the United States is about 2050 calories and for men is around 2800 calories. Generally speaking reducing your daily calories consumed to 75% – 90% of your TDEE is considered by most to be safe and effective for a weight loss program. When combined with aerobic exercise and strength training you can safely lose 1 to 2 pounds per week following this guideline.

Though weight loss has become a multibillion dollar industry with all kinds of products and services you can purchase, your success in losing weight still comes down to just one thing – consume less calories than you burn each day and you will lose weight – 100% of the time! Now that’s sounding good aready!!! So again, the key is finding your truest to accurate TDEE and making sure you’re consuming less calories than you burn. If you have figured your TDEE or your calories consumed incorrectly you may be consuming more calories than you are burning and this will result in weight gain. And if you’re still having trouble losing weight when you have given this a seriously fair chance, then you may want to look into other areas that could be keeping you from losing weight such as your thyroid levels and function. In fact, many people, especially women in their mid 40’s to 50’s, have been known to experience some form of thyroid condition after finally being tested but were completely unaware of it because the symptoms run so closely with menopause. And did you know that an underactive thyroid may have your BMR slow down by as much as 40%. So after finding your TDEE and following it to the “T” (ha, no pun intended), and you are still having no success with your weight loss, I encourage you to have yours thyroid levels checked.

Hopefully by now I have made you realize how very important it is to establish your TDEE. But there is still two more things you have to do to lose weight. One is to design an attack plan to create a calorie deficit and the other is to increase your lean muscle mass as this will help you to increase your BMR and burn extra calories all day long. Yes, you might be thinking you could just focus on your diet, but understand that by reducing your calorie intake too much you can lower your BMR and destroy hard gained lean muscle that will result in lowering your BMR even further. Not good! Therefore my suggestion for the best approach to lose weight is to incorporate improvements in your diet as well as participate in a well balanced fitness program that includes cardio and strength training. Your goal should be to create a calorie deficit of about 200 to 800 calories (75% to 90% of your TDEE) each day. Since there are 3500 calories in one pound this will result in a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. And please note, at no time should your caloric intake fall below the minimum requirements as established by the ACSM.

I hope you have found this article on TDEE very helpful. Next week I’d like to focus on debunking the many unfounded myths that concern lifting heavy weights since unfortunately I feel that these myths persuade many of you not to strength train. So be sure to join me for next week’s Fit Tip article.

Cathe Friedrich

4 thoughts on “Why Your TDEE is Important for Weight Loss

  1. Cathe,
    Can you advise if, for the TDEE, should I be selecting the moderate or very active level based on doing your workouts 5-6 days/week, burning about 2100 calories? It’s a big difference in the TDEE number.

    I currently consume 1600-1700 calories every day and sometimes I can lose, sometimes not. I just cant get under 1600 calories without being hungry. Maybe I need to increase my calories? Your help is appreciated!

  2. I have the same question. I have a sedentary job, but I work out a minimum of 6 times a week, usually for 1 – 1.5 hours. Summer time my activity level increase substantially. What activity level should I choose?

  3. Same questions for me. I sit at a desk all day but do exercise 6 days per week. Some days it is cardio and other days just strength training. Not sure if I should be in the moderate or very active category either.

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