BMR and TDEE Explained for Those Needing a Guide

After posting and learning about BMR and TDEE from some great people on this forum, I finally got the full understanding of BMR and TDEE. I just emailed a friend at work all that I learned as we changed our lifestyle and eating at the same time - I thought a copy of my email may help those in the forum seeking a "dummies guide" to BMR and TDEE..............hope it helps!


Ok, now second, BMR and TDEE:

So in wanting to lose weight, people get confused and frustrated early on when doing a diet or making a lifestyle shift like being plant strong. Initially, esp on this way of eating, we all had big drops - much of that is due to inflammation from the bad food we were ingesting or water weight.

The mind set you have to force yourself into and reiterate is that realistically, weight should come off slow as your body re-learns how to get nutrients and burn off fat again. Your body does not care that you want to drop "x" amount of weight in so many months - it's only job is survival.

So, like many, I thought with my online tracking system thru MyFitnessPal.com, that I should listen to it's "recommendations" (and many docs say this too), to restrict not only portion size but amount of calorie intake to 1200 a day. The problem is that many of us require 1500 or more a day to simply live, to keep our heart beating, to make the brain work - at minimum we need 1500 or more given to us if we were lying in a coma in the hospital.

Given that fact, what we are told with 1200 cal / day is simply false and very detrimental to our body. Some call it "starvation mode" but a more accurate description would be "nutrient deficient." The body looks at that 1200 calories and says, ok, I need (in my case to get specific) 1529 a day to keep you living and breathing and you are giving me 1200, a 300 deficit.

So, in order to keep you living and breathing, again, body NOT caring about weight loss, the body will slow or stop some other systems (metabolism being the 1st it stops) and hang on to those 1200 calories b/c all it knows is that you are under-feeding it and so it must "hoard" that 1200, store it as fat and keep you alive. You essentially are stopping the metabolic process to a halt when you under eat.

If you can get your head around that concept, then it becomes easy to see, much like a cell phone needing to be charged to turn on and work, your body, your metabolism, NEEDS at minimum that 1529 (in my case) and MORE to really work efficiently, keep me alive AND burn and lose weight. That 1529 # is called "BMR" - basal metabolic rate.

To figure out what your individual BMR is, there are many online calculators - trust me I think I found them all. And although no two will be identical, as I ran my #'s, the results were fairly close to 1529. I read a very informative post on MFP reg this topic and the site they recommend is this:

http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/

And specifically, to get your most accurate BMR, they ask first, that you run the Military Body Fat Calculator:

http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/mbf/

That will require your:

sex
height (in inches)
weight (in pounds)
neck measurement (in inches)
waist measurement (in inches)
hip measurement (in inches)

When you submit this info, the system will generate your true body fat %. Jot that % down on a piece of paper, then go to their BMR calculator link at:

http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/bmr/

And plug in:

age
sex
height (in inches)
weight (in pounds)
GOAL weight (in pounds)
and that body fat % you just wrote

Now, a caveat - for GOAL weight, they ask that you enter in your current weight again - the reason being that when you enter your true GOAL weight, the system will show you a BMR to eat at so that when you reach that GOAL, you are used to and continue to eat at that calorie / day. It will work and it is accurate however, the weight loss will be slow and many of us are not patient enough to do it that way.

When you enter your current weight as GOAL, it will generate what they call TDEE - total daily energy expenditure. THAT # is important as it tells you, taking into account your personal information, not only the minimum BMR to stay alive, but the amount of calories per day you need to MAINTAIN at the weight you are at RIGHT NOW.

The best way to lose weight a bit faster then the above with true GOAL weight AND still doing it at a healthy pace, is to take that TDEE # from the chart that will generate and less out a % which will give you an accurate amount to eat per day to lose weight.

On the chart will be multiple lines describing activity levels - as much as I work at a desk job, I have used a pedometer for the large corporation I work in along with kids and shuffling all day and can log in 5-7K in steps per day. So appearances say pick "desk job" but much again has been discussed on the activity level and the one common thread and mistake people make at this critical calculation is underestimating their activity level.

If you say you work out 1 hour a day maybe 2-3 times a week at most and consider that "little exercise," what do you do with the other 23 hours in your day? You work, walk, run kids here and there, chores around the house, etc.

So the mantra being said is unless you literally lay in bed all day every day, if you have little exercise but go to work and do other things that keep you moving in some way (even showering burns calories), everyone at the minimum should be selecting "light" activity or higher. So pick a truly accurate level and consider all the things you do all day.

So, let's do real life example:

my BMR is 1529 (I now know I must eat AT LEAST that per day minimum)

I work at desk job but again, I walk easily 5-7K steps a day with work and kids, so I look at the "light" activity line

my TDEE right now at my current weight is 2116 - that is the "light" activity line # for my measurements, stats, body fat %, etc for my weight RIGHT NOW (which will change) - if I ate 2116 every day my body would stay at the same weight - this is what you would eat to not change your weight

but like many, I want to lose - I love the plant strong health benefits for sure, but I do want to lose

what you do then is take your particular TDEE # (2116) from the chart and less out a %

the general rule of thumb is, if you want to lose:

5-10 pounds, less out 10%
10-20 pounds, less out 15%
20 or more pounds, less out 20%

anything higher in % is really for people who have undergone gastric surgeries and going higher could potentially put your body back in that "nutrient deficient" mode so 20% is about what most use as a healthy guide

now, 2116 x 20% would give me 423 - I deduct that 423 from 2116 and get:

1693

that 1693 is now my calories per day to eat that will not only maintain my BMR (which I know is 1529) but will also allow me to eat UNDER the 2116 TDEE for my weight right now - that concept is what they call "eat more to weigh less" and it goes contrary to what we all learned as far as losing weight - I am still learning to accept this as fact and EAT more.

So, now that has me eating 20% under 2116 to lose (1693) but ABOVE my BMR so that my body learns I am not starving it, that it should not "hoard" the calories and keep the fat and eventually the body will release the fat.

Many people looking to lose weight fall into this trap where they have eaten so little for so long that the body has to re-learn and reset the metabolism - in fact, some believe a true "reset" would be to eat at the TDEE # (2116) for 6 weeks or so and only THEN drop off a %.

Either way, knowing this exact # will surely get you to where you want to be - it's just that your body trying to survive may take a few weeks to understand you are not going to deprive it any more and it CAN let go of the fat as it understands it will always be fed and nourished to the point it is not panicked and storing it all.............make sense?

Where I am personally is going into 6 weeks plant strong (YAY!) and almost 2 weeks at my re-adjusted 1680 per day calorie - I did the 1200 and many days below that for those first few weeks so my body must re-learn.

I may have 4 weeks yet for my body to truly learn and let go of the fat and to burn all the time. It is hard b/c you want it NOW but gaining weight took a while and so will losing it. In fact, some have a slight gain while the metabolism is resetting so be warned, do not panic, it means the body is changing the way you need it to change to burn fat.

The body just needs the time to re-learn so, for me, I will wait the 6 weeks if needed, keep eating whole food plant based, ignoring the scale as much as I can and wait - it WILL drop off - it is logic, the body must and will change and let go eventually.

Last note on TDEE, as you lose weight, maybe every 5-10 lbs, return to the site that gives you the calculations and reassess your TDEE as the more you lose, the more that # will change and this way you are always eating right AT where you should and following the eating you need so you are never too far under and thwarting your body back into being nutrient deficient and stalled.

I have also noticed although I lost 13 lbs in about 5 weeks, the weight loss now is slower but I swear my shape is changing - dresses and pants fit that were too snug before, I see definition in my thigh and calf muscles that were not there - this is probably why if you can get away from the scale numbers, many take and rely only on measurements of their body and even if the scale is stalled or moves slowly, you are losing inches which means the body is starting to turn on and change and burn and create a much leaner version of you...........
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Replies

  • Charweezie
    Charweezie Posts: 115 Member
    awesome!!! I've read soo much about this and was still confused.. you made it so much easier to understand! great work!!! i will definitely try this!
  • loriq41
    loriq41 Posts: 479 Member
    Great explanation...even though hearing this and knowing I have to up my calories is scary...I plan on doing it next week...eeeeeek!
  • jmparis65
    jmparis65 Posts: 58 Member
    This was a GREAT read!!


    Thank you for taking the time to spell it all out.
  • Lonewolf1507
    Lonewolf1507 Posts: 507 Member
    Thank you for this post, helpful to me and some on my friends list :happy:

    Andy
  • heyshaker
    heyshaker Posts: 13
    bump
  • hhedrick2000
    hhedrick2000 Posts: 5 Member
    WOW, thank you so much! I understand now!
  • chrystalah
    chrystalah Posts: 29 Member
    bump
  • staceypunk
    staceypunk Posts: 938 Member
    We are always seeing posts on this because people are still confused. You explained it very well. What is "plant strong"?
  • rettigkl
    rettigkl Posts: 18
    finally English I understand!
  • Bump. Great post.
  • staceypunk
    staceypunk Posts: 938 Member
    Interesting results! I did my maintenance and then I did my GW, so trying to lose another 7.5 pounds. The difference in calories was only about 50 calories.

    I am 5 foot 6.5 inches
    135.5 pounds
    22.8% Body fat

    got 1639 sedentary to lose 7.5 pounds
    got 1878 light activity to lose 7.5 pounds

    So, in this scenario, you don't worry about how many calories you burn each day, you would just exercise as per usual and eat the 1878 everyday?
  • ichoose2believe
    ichoose2believe Posts: 108 Member
    bump
  • sac4fd
    sac4fd Posts: 41 Member
    This was very helpful, thank you for taking the time to post this!!

    Now if someone could as easily explain how exercise calories fit into this equation, specifically whether to eat all or only a portion back, I think I would understand for good:)

    Thanks again!
  • scwilson38
    scwilson38 Posts: 104 Member
    Bump
  • Joloco4444
    Joloco4444 Posts: 18 Member
    Bump
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,760 Member
    This was very helpful, thank you for taking the time to post this!!

    Now if someone could as easily explain how exercise calories fit into this equation, specifically whether to eat all or only a portion back, I think I would understand for good:)

    Thanks again!

    Try this:

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/818082-exercise-calories-again-wtf
  • Vailara
    Vailara Posts: 2,189 Member
    Great explanation, and thank you for taking the time to write it all out!

    I just wanted to pick up on this little bit, though:
    http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/bmr/

    And plug in:

    age
    sex
    height (in inches)
    weight (in pounds)
    GOAL weight (in pounds)
    and that body fat % you just wrote

    Now, a caveat - for GOAL weight, they ask that you enter in your current weight again - the reason being that when you enter your true GOAL weight, the system will show you a BMR to eat at so that when you reach that GOAL, you are used to and continue to eat at that calorie / day. It will work and it is accurate however, the weight loss will be slow and many of us are not patient enough to do it that way.

    That really depends on your current weight and your goal weight. I know when I first went to that fat2fitradio, with about 100 lbs to lose, it gave me calories which were too low for me, below (their estimate of) my BMR. I think it's often that way for bigger people using the site (and f2f recommends that you enter a higher goal weight if that happens). It's not that we're not patient - it's that it's giving us too big a deficit. If I put in the figures for my original weight, then TDEE - 20% would allow me to eat a fair bit more than the "eat for the future you" fat2fitradio figure.

    The fat2fitradio BMR calculator actually gives you your goal TDEE, not your BMR. (It does give the BMR figure, but the figure it tells you to eat is what your TDEE, rather than your BMR, would be at goal).

    Edit: As far as I know, although it asks for your body fat % to calculate your BMR, it doesn't use it in the calculation of your TDEE.
  • ddky
    ddky Posts: 378 Member
    bump
  • kmcosgrove115
    kmcosgrove115 Posts: 262 Member
    The rule of thumb reg exercise calories I have seen is that the majority feel (my take on it) that you only factor in the exercise calories when it is a HARD workout. That calculation with the activity chart is taking that into account already reg your workout (i.e. activity) based on what you believe it to be - me with desk job BUT I walk ALOT with work and kids each day - so I chose the "light" line in activity knowing it is "accounted" for........................

    If you exercise HARD above the level you went with on the TDEE chart, then in those cases only, factor it in. This is why so many diaries have that they burned 1 calorie in a workout - they want to visually see the workout in the journal but know it is most likely already factored in to their TDEE less 20% - make sense?

    For me, if weekly I get a walk or bike on the 9 mile trail near me which is above that "light" level, only THEN do I log in that exercise and eat back the calories and again, I personally only eat SOME of it back, not all.................

    Opinions do differ on this board so you may hear a diff take which might have validity but the majority of things I have read on here, stick to letting that TDEE factor in activity based on the chart and the level you pick - anything HARD above your normal workouts / activity is the only time they factor it in................

    That is how I have been operating with this and to me, it makes sense. There are many who lift on this forum and really train so they may have other advice but I think the bulk of us don't do the activity levels they do therefore, let the TDEE calculation factor in your normal exercise.................just my 2 cents :)
  • dlcarroll13
    dlcarroll13 Posts: 65 Member
    This was very helpful, thank you for taking the time to post this!!

    Now if someone could as easily explain how exercise calories fit into this equation, specifically whether to eat all or only a portion back, I think I would understand for good:)

    Thanks again!

    You don't eat back any of the exercise calories because you should have figured them in to your TDEE based on which activity level you chose.