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BMR, RMR (EER), and TDEE Formulas

Okay, since I've seen a LOT of posts lately about how to figure your TDEE, I figured I would go through the steps for a simple estimate for everyone and post it on my blog so I don't have to type it over and over and over again. ;-)  I know it is confusing, but it's not really rocket science.  If you can do basic multiplication and division (or work a calculator), then you can figure your numbers.  Here's how:


BMR = 1 kcal x 24 hours per day x lean body mass in kg (You have to subtract out your body fat from your total weight to get lean body mass. Also make sure you are using kilograms and not pounds. Divide pounds by 2.2 to get kilograms. Multiply total body weight by body fat % to get pounds or kilos of fat. Subtract Fat pounds or kilos from total body weight pounds or kilos to get lean body mass.) 

RMR (EER) = BMR x Activity Factor (Note RMR here is referred to as Resting from your normal exercise routine, not complete bed rest. Complete bed rest is BMR. I had two different professors who taught this concept, one used RMR and one used EER [Estimated Energy Requirement], so call it RMR or EER, whichever works for you.) 

Sedentary (Up and walking around less then 30 minutes a day )= 1.0 to 1.4 
Lightly Active (On the feet equivalent to walking 2 miles per day) = 1..4 to 1.6 
Moderately Active (On the feet equivalent to walking 7 miles per day) = 1.6 to 1.9 
Very Active (On the feet equivalent to walking 17 miles per day) = 1.9 to 2.5 

TDEE = RMR (EER) + Exercise Calories (Note that this number will change DAILY based on the amount of exercise you do. Anyone using the SAME TDEE everyday is wrong because they either aren't accounting for exercise that day or they are accounting for exercise they didn't do that day.) 

To lose body fat, eat no less then 80% of TDEE. No, this doesn't give an easy number of Calories for your deficit because it may or may not be the 500 Calories per pound of weight loss per week, but it tells the body to preserve muscle and use fat for fuel. The easiest way I've found to use MFP for eating the right amount of Calories is to put your RMR (EER) as your goal Calories. Then when MFP adds your exercise Calories and changes your "Goal" Calories, it is figuring your TDEE for you. If you don't exercise then your RMR (EER) is your TDEE. At that point you can then take the new "Goal" (TDEE) number and multiply it by 0.8 to get the MINIMUM number of Calories you should eat. Subtracting your intake from your new "Goal" (TDEE) will give you the deficit you are now eating at so that you can estimate your weight loss. If you eat right at your "goal" (TDEE) then you should stay the same weight because that is your Maintenance level. Eating over should result in weight gain.  

16 years Certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor 
9 years Certified Sports Nutritionist 
Bachelors in Exercise Physiology with a Minor in Nutritional Science 
ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist 
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

16 votes + -


ncassedy22 wrote 69 months ago:
Dear Tanya- how do you find out your body fat percentage?
TrainingWithTonya wrote 69 months ago:
Scroll down the blog to May 2011. There is a post about determining body fat % including the formulas for doing it with measurements if you don't have access to the various other tests.
starcatcher1975 wrote 69 months ago:
Thank you
pmkelly409 wrote 69 months ago:
This should be mandatory reading especially for all our MFP friends that want to eat less than 1000 calories to lose weight!
julest25 wrote 69 months ago:
Great post
myannapal wrote 69 months ago:
Thanks for very helpful post.

+ Exercise Calories.

How accurate are the Exercise Calories calculated by MFP. For general Tennis, drills, and some doubles play, I usually cut the Exercise Calories MFP states by one-half. I fear the Calorie burned during Exercise reported by MFP and other calculators are way too high. Not having accurate estimates for Exercise Calories can throw off TDEE by 20% to 50% potentially.
MrsSassyPants wrote 69 months ago:
kellicruz1978 wrote 69 months ago:
Sinope82 wrote 69 months ago:
Thankyou ! This is just what i was looking for
brindy78 wrote 69 months ago:
Thank You! I've been trying to lose weight, but it's bee difficult. I hope knowing these formulas will now help me to be more accurate.
shimmergal wrote 69 months ago:
thank you for the post! great info.
TrainingWithTonya wrote 68 months ago:

I've double checked a few of the entries on MFP for tracking exercise calories with the METs system of estimating calorie expenditure and it seems to be using that system. Obviously, you might want to double check them for yourself in case it is a user created entry, though. I use the following METs Compendium to estimate calories:

Take the MET level of the activity and multiply it by your total body weight in kilograms and then by 0.0175 to get Calories per Minute.
denise4230 wrote 68 months ago:
great info, I've been having so much trouble losing the weight, busting my butt and not getting anywhere and now I think I know why. I haven't been eating enough. gonna to the calculations and start fresh tomorrow, with the calculations AND the nutritional recommendations. thanks for the help.
josephroldan23 wrote 60 months ago:
I know you mentioned eating at minimum 80% of our RMR on non-exercise days to burn body fat. My question is, how much fat loss would this lead to in a week? In my case, my RMR is 2300 cal/day so on rest days, 80% of that turns out to be around 1850 cals/day, which is roughly that 500 cal deficit people talk about to lose 1 pound of fat a week. Is that the kind of fat loss we're talking here? Thanks!
TrainingWithTonya wrote 60 months ago:
It varies. Theoretically, a 500 Calorie a day deficit will lead to 1 pound of fat per week lost. However, because of the interplay between fat and carbs being burned during your exercise and the loss or gain of water and storage of glycogen to fuel future workouts, you may not see an actual pound on the scale every week. Ignore the scale, watch how your clothes fit, and check your body fat percentage to see the most accurate changes in your body.

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