How many calories should I be eating a day?

by | Aug 10, 2021 | Blog, Fitness & Wellness, Nutritional Education

Energy expenditure is the amount of energy that a person needs to carry out physical functions such as breathing, circulating blood, digesting food, or exercising. Energy is measured in calories, and your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories you burn each day. It also helps you to determine how many calories should I be eating a day.

To lose weight, your body must use more calories than you eat. That means that you either need to increase your energy expenditure, decrease your calorie intake, or, ideally, do a combination of both to create a calorie deficit. Most experts recommend creating a total calorie deficit of 3500–7000 calories per week to lose 1–2 pounds of body fat per week.

The same goes for weight gain. To gain weight, your body must intake more calories than you burn on a daily and weekly basis.

So, what determines a TDEE?

Your TDEE is determined by four key factors:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (calories burned to keep you alive).
  • Thermic Effect of Food (calories burned while eating and digesting food)
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT- nonexercise calories burned daily)
  • Thermic Effect of Activity (calories burned as a result of exercise)

How do I figure out my Total Daily Energy Expenditure?

First you must learn your BMR first. Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating your BMR using the Harris-Benedict Equation:

  • Women BMR = 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
  • Men BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in yrs)

Next step to determine your TDEE is calculating the thermic effect of food as well as your nonexercise and exercise caloric expenditures. The next step in figuring out TDEE would be to calculate the thermic effect of food as well as the nonexercise and exercise factors. Researchers have determined a set of “activity multipliers”, known as the Katch-McArdle multipliers.

To calculate your approximate TDEE, simply multiply these activity factors by your BMR:

  • Sedentary (little to no exercise + work a desk job) = 1.2
  • Lightly Active (light exercise 1-3 days / week) = 1.375
  • Moderately Active (moderate exercise 3-5 days / week) = 1.55
  • Very Active (heavy exercise 6-7 days / week) = 1.725
  • Extremely Active (very heavy exercise, hard labor job, training 2x / day) = 1.9

If you don’t LOVE math, you could also use the TDEE CALCULATOR if you simply want the number.

Why is this measurement important?

The TDEE helps individuals maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is important. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, it can also lower the risk of many different cancers. TDEE can also be used for losing weight and maintaining weight.

How many calories should I be eating a day?

So, how do you use TDEE to help you gain muscle or lose fat? Great question! Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, etc… are all types of nutrition plans that an individual can use to improve their diet. After working with many clients, one diet doesn’t fit everyone- and it doesn’t have to. Good news!  You can choose the nutritional path that suits your body but one thing stands…

  • If you want to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories than your TDEE. This forces your body to use stored energy from its fat to compensate for the calories you’re not consuming each day. Do this long enough and you will lose weight and body fat.  

Use this equation: 20% of TDEE = 0.20 x 2990 = calories for fat loss

  • If you want to gain muscle mass, you need to eat more calories than your TDEE. Your body needs to be in a caloric surplus. Pairing this with rigorous weight training and proper macronutrient percentages will result in more muscle mass.

Use this equation: TDEE + 200-300 calories per day= to achieve +.25 of a lb of mass per week.

A thought from Wellthy Soul

Weight loss requires strategy and a structured plan to achieve measurable goals. Trying to understand how many calories should I be eating a day can be overwhelming, it can be without the right guide. Talk to your Wellthy Soul coach for your specific Total Daily Energy Expenditure and how much you should be eating to lose body fat. If you don’t have a coach, we would love to speak to you to see if your needs fit our programming. Complete this waitlist form now!