The fitness and nutrition world is full of confusing terms and acronyms that some of us can’t quite get our heads round.

Body weight management is already hard enough, particularly weight loss, without having to understand the fitness lingo!

Though, this is why education around this topic is super important for understanding how our bodies work and how we can make changes to our body weight if we choose to.

This article aims to shed light on what total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is and why it’s important for body weight management. We also cover:

  • Calories
  • Managing body weight: weight loss and weight gain
  • Ways to boost energy expenditure (calorie burn)
  • The role of fat-burning supplements

Read on to find out all you need to know about TDEE!

What are Calories?

Put simply, our bodies use chemical energy to do anything - from moving to surviving.

The energy we use to do this is measured in calories.

We get calories from the food we eat, and the quantity of food we eat largely determines our body weight.

You will see calories listed under the nutritional information on all packaged food, or as the focus of many diets such as Keto and intermittent fasting.

Each of us burns a different number of calories each day unique to our personal factors, and this number is known as our total daily energy expenditure!

What is Total Daily Energy Expenditure?

Our total daily energy expenditure is the number of calories we burn daily for energy.

It is influenced by 3 main factors:

1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Roughly 70% of our TDEE comes from our BMR, also known as resting metabolic rate (RMR).

This is influenced by our weight, height, age and sex, and is simply the energy cost of survival. The energy we use each day for everyday bodily functions, such as breathing, blinking, and thinking, is part of our basal metabolic rate.

2. Thermic Effect Of Food (TEF)

About 10% of the energy we burn daily is simply from digesting and absorbing food. Believe it or not, even these subconscious influences burn energy. Protein is actually the most energy-demanding nutrient, taking a longer time to digest and absorb compared to carbs and fat.

3. Activity Energy Expenditure (AEF), which is split into a further two factors:

- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Our NEAT refers to the energy we burn doing any activity or movement that isn’t strictly exercise. This includes any subconscious act of daily life, such as walking, commuting, cleaning, and gardening.

- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)

Our EAT refers to the energy we burn doing exercise. This covers any physical efforts at the gym, going for runs, partaking in sports, etc.

Altogether, our AEF makes up around 15-50% of our TDEE, all depending on how active you are during the day.

There are many online calculators that can calculate your personal estimated TDEE based on the above factors (weight, age, activity levels, height, and sex). You can also use formulas or check your data on a smart watch you may wear.

So, why does TDEE matter for body weight management?

Body Weight Management: Energy Balance

To understand how TDEE affects our bodyweight, we must be familiar with energy balance.

Energy balance is the fundamental concept of body weight regulation, also referred to as “calories in vs calories out”.

Simply put, when we take in less energy (food) then we burn, we lose weight. And when we take in more energy than we burn, we gain weight.

This is why a combination of a poor, high-calorie diet and lack of physical activity often leads to weight gain, and a reduction of calorie intake paired with an increase in physical activity is the simple answer to weight loss (eat less, move more).

This means that to achieve weight loss, we must be in an energy (calorie) deficit. Let’s elaborate on this further!

Weight Loss 101

One pound of fat is equal to approximately 3,500kcal.

So, in order to lose 1lb of fat, we must be in a 3,500kcal deficit over the course of a week. This is equal to a 500kcal deficit per day.

For example, if you consume 2000kcal per day and maintain your weight overtime, you will need to consume 1,500kcal per day over a period of time to lose roughly 1lb of fat per week.

Obviously, this is grossly simplified, but it is the fundamental concept of fat loss and often the most recommended approach to doing so.

Many other diets focus on over-restriction and cutting out certain food groups, which typically is not a sustainable method and would only offer a quick fix.

Believe it or not, all diets you come across are largely based on the principle of a calorie deficit, they are just marketed as something fancy!

There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach to fat loss, which is why education around this topic is key.

The more knowledge you have on fat loss and how it works, the better off you’ll be as you can make more informed choices about your personal diet and lifestyle and find an approach that works best for you.

The best diet is the one you can adhere to!

Now, let’s look a bit closer at some more practical strategies around increasing our calorie expenditure, thus helping us burn more calories!

How to Boost Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Exercise would be the most obvious way to boost your energy expenditure. A training program you enjoy and consistently partake in would be highly beneficial for energy burn, growing lean muscle, improving your cardiovascular fitness, among many other benefits.

However, there are also a couple more strategies you could implement to further increase calorie expenditure:

  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

As we have established, our NEAT is the energy we burn doing the subconscious acts of daily life, or any activity that isn’t strictly exercise.

If you think about it a bit deeper, this would actually be a more effective factor to manipulate compared to exercise considering the fact that NEAT contributes more to our daily energy burn than exercise.

Exercise typically lasts for around 1 hour, and often not every day of the week. So, what could you be doing with the remaining 23 hours of the day?

Here’s where you could be implementing daily activity habits to increase movement and energy expenditure. For example:

  • Standing at every opportunity
  • Walking instead of transport, when possible
  • Setting a daily step count goal
  • Taking up active hobbies, such as gardening
  • Pacing while on the phone

These are all minor strategies which can make a major difference to the number of calories you burn daily!

  • Thermic Effect of Food

As we know, a small percentage of our daily calorie burn comes from digesting and absorbing food.

There are some foods that take a bit more energy to break down and absorb, one example being protein.

When on a weight loss program, it’s often recommended to increase protein intake. Not only is this to support muscle growth and repair, but also because it’s the most satiating macronutrient, which keeps us fuller for longer.

This means that when we increase the protein intake, we typically reduce cravings and hunger as a result.

Additionally, we would burn more calories digesting this macronutrient. While marginal, it all helps when it comes to fat loss!

  • Fat Burners

Fat burners or other weight loss supplements may also help increase calorie burn.

This could be through many means, such as aiding the oxidation of fat, increasing energy, or improving training performance and recovery, thus enabling you to train harder and better, burning more calories.

Burn Lab Pro is a good example of a clean, effective fat burner that helps increase energy expenditure, control appetite, and promote lean muscle gains.

Key Take Homes

  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories we burn daily for energy
  • Our TDEE is influenced by our weight, age, height, sex, and physical activity levels
  • The fundamental concept of weight loss is energy balance, or calories in vs calories out
  • To lose weight, we must be in a calorie deficit over a prolonged period of time
  • We can boost our energy expenditure by increasing out daily activity, exercising more, and potentially taking a fat burner such as Burn Lab Pro