Day 10 – Calculate Your Daily Energy Expenditure

This is Day 10 of Live a Healthier Life in 21 Days Challenge.

I am not really interested in doing today’s task, so I am not even going to try it.

I can add, subtract, multiply and divide pretty well. But that’s all the math I can handle. Anything beyond that gives me a headache.

I do not like to calculate, to measure, to do statistics or anything that has to do with numbers. That’s all very dead boring to me.

The most boring class and the most boring professor I had in my whole life was the statistics class and the professor who taught it during my graduate study at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. It was a total waste of my time.

BTW, even though I didn’t do exercise today, I still felt really good, because I was working on interesting things at work. It shows that mental health contributes greatly to a person’s total well being.


The following is from the 21DHL Forum.


Day 10 – Calculate Your Daily Energy Expenditure

If you have weight loss/weight gain goals which you’re serious about achieving, then you have to know your daily energy expenditure (Thanks HotChildInTheCity for introducing this term to me!). Total Daily Energy Expenditure (or TDEE) is the total number of calories you burn in an average day, including all the activities you do.

If you remember, during Day 2 we talked about your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR stands for the minimum caloric requirement to sustain life in an individual, and doesn’t account for the exercises/activities you do. TDEE, on the other hand, takes into account our activity level, and is a closer measure to the calories we burn on an average day. Basically

TDEE = BMR (Calories burned at rest) + Calories burned from activities (This is a calorie expenditure that occurs on top of your BMR)

Consuming lesser calories than TDEE will lead to a weight loss. On the other hand, consuming more calories will lead to a weight gain. Consuming the same calories will lead to maintenance of your current weight.

To figure out how many calories you should eat a day to achieve your weight goals, we need to first know your TDEE. Hence, today’s task is on calculating your TDEE!

Step 1: Calculate Your TDEE

There are 2 general methods to calculate your TDEE:

  1. The first method is to calculate an overall TDEE, based on your activity level throughout the week. You can use the TDEE calculator here. The figure you get represents your average TDEE every day. Mine is 1740 calories, meaning I burn 1740 calories every day.
  2. The second method is tedious but precise. Calculate your BMR first via the BMR counter. This represents your caloric requirements purely to sustain your body. Multiply it by 1.2, which will give you your caloric expenditure on a day with minimal activity. (Thanks Jade for highlighting this!) Then, for whatever fitness activity you undertake, use this activity counter to measure that. Sum up the 2 figures and you’ll get your TDEE for the day.
    For example, if your BMR is 1400 and you went jogging today and burned 300 calories, your total energy expenditure will be 1400×1.2 + 300=1680 + 300 = 1980 calories for the day.

Step 2: Calculate your calories intake per day to achieve your weight goal

To lose/gain weight, you’ve to consume lesser/more calories than your energy expended every day (or if you prefer to exercise, you need to burn x more calories that day). It’s generally recommended not to set a calories difference bigger than 500. So if your daily energy expenditure is 1700, you should have a calories intake of less than 1700, between 1200 to <1700 calories.

By setting your ideal weight and the date you want to achieve this ideal weight, you can then work backwards and calculate your calories intake a day.

  1. Calculate the difference between your ideal weight and current weight. If your ideal weight is 60kg and your current weight is 63kg, the difference is 3kg or 6.6lbs (1kg = 2.2lbs).
  2. To lose 1 lb, you need to have a calorie deficit of 3500 lbs. Multiply the difference between your ideal and current weight in lbs by 3500. Example: If you have a 6.6lbs difference, that will be 23100 calories.
  3. When do you want to achieve your ideal weight? Calculate the number of days between now and your ideal date. If you want to achieve your ideal weight by end of Feb (it’s Jan 10 now), that’s 50 days left.
  4. Last but not least, divide your total number of calories/deficit by total number of days. Example: 23100 / 50 = 462 calories per day. This means you need to eat 462 less calories or burn 462 more calories (vs. your TDEE) to achieve your ideal weight of 60kg by end Feb.

Step 3: Design your ideal healthy living plans to fit your daily caloric target

Now that you know your daily caloric target, what is your ideal healthy living plan (incorporating ideal meal plan (Day 3) and exercise) that will help you achieve this target, while meeting your nutritional needs? Design a few healthy living plans (one for each week, so you have variety) and then start following these plans from today onwards!