The secret to weight loss isn’t much of a secret as it is a simple formula: Calories In – Calories Out = Net Calories. If you’re eating fewer calories than you expend each day, you’ll lose weight—it’s as simple as that!
But how do you know if you’re burning more calories than you’re eating? You’ll need to do a little math, to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Bad at math? Don’t worry: there are dozens of apps and spreadsheets out there designed to do the work for you! This TDEE calculator is specific to the ketogenic diet. All you need to do is plug in the information.
Here are the variables you need to calculate TDEE.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Your body burns calories all day, every day. It needs to generate energy for life-sustaining functions (like breathing). And while these processes don’t require a lot of energy, they still consume calories. The sum total of calories burned from these life-sustaining processes is called your Basal Metabolic Rate.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate represents how many calories you’ll burn each day if you do nothing at all—just stay alive. The rate is different for everyone, and it depends on your age, weight, height and gender.
Thermic Effect of Food
When you consume food, your body immediately starts breaking it down. This requires energy; but it also creates energy. Some foods, like protein, take longer to break down. As a result, our bodies spend more energy and store less. Other foods are quick and easy to break down, like sugars—which means our bodies store whatever energy isn’t immediately needed. This is the thermic effect of food.
When calculating TDEE, thermic effect matters. Eating cheap foods all day means a lower thermic effect: our bodies store calories instead of using them. Effective diets are those that focus on high-thermic-effect foods, which force our bodies to burn calories to digest foods.
Non-Exercise vs. Exercise Expenditures
The last and most crucial component in calculating TDEE is activity. It breaks down into two categories: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and Exercise-Related Activity Thermogenesis (EAT):
- NEAT are calories burned below an active heart rate, through movements considered normal. Walking, for example.
- EAT are calories burned at or above an active heart rate, through aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Running and weight lifting, for example.
Both NEAT and EAT activities will burn calories; however, the latter will result in faster calorie burn than the former. Both are important as part of a bigger concept: the Thermic Effect of Physical Activity (TEPA). TEPA is the sum of calories burned from all activities, used when calculating TDEE.
Putting it all Together
Remember our simple weight loss equation: Calories In – Calories Out = Net Calories. Calories In is easy to track based on the caloric values of food. When it comes to Calories Out, TDEE is the best measure. To find it, you need to consider everything mentioned above: Basal Metabolic Rate, thermic effect of food and TEPA (NEAT+EAT).
Once you’ve calculated the total calories your body uses to sustain itself each day, you’ll have a benchmark for how many fewer calories you need to eat each day to achieve weight loss. It all goes back to that one simple equation. Be sure to consult with your doctor or certified professional to see what they recommend before making changes to your diet.
Tired of the diet yo-yo? Check out our Keto Challenge!