Calculating Daily Energy Expenditure

Losing or gaining body weight is a matter of getting the right balance between energy in and energy out. The 'energy in' component is determined by the food you eat. The 'energy out' component is determined by the energy expenditure of the cells of your body. There are two primary components that make up your body's energy expenditure, the energy you use at rest (basal metabolic rate, BMR) and the additional energy that is expended during physical activity (METs).

See the specific pages on BMR and METs to understand and determine your daily energy requirements. On top of your resting energy expenditure, you need to adjust for the amount of activity performed. There are many ways to estimate your total daily energy expenditure. If you are after just a simple rough estimate, there are some example formula below. Be aware that the range for calculated total daily energy expenditure is highly variable. It depends on many factors, including: activity level, age, gender, size, weight and body composition. Using a pedometer is another simple way of estimating daily energy expenditure.

A Simple Formula

You can roughly estimate your daily calorie requirements using the following simple formulas:

The Harris-Benedict Principle

Use the following table to calculate your recommended daily calorie intake to maintain current weight. To estimate your total energy expenditure, you first need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Exercise Level Details Calorie Calculation (Daily Needs)
Little to no exercise   BMR x 1.2
Light exercise 1-3 days per week BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise 3-5 days per week BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise 6-7 days per week BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise twice per day, extra heavy workouts BMR x 1.9


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