You may have wondered how many calories do you burn a day. Even if you’re standing still and holding your breath, you’re burning calories. If burning calories is that easy, why is losing weight so hard? In the following article, we’ll take a look at the ways to calculate how many calories you burn a day, also called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). You can use this information to define your weight-loss plan, including your workouts, diet, and meal plan.
To calculate your TDEE, you need to consider your body’s essential energy needs (your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR) and your typical activity level.
Generally speaking, on a daily basis, men burn more calories than women. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services places the general daily estimated energy requirement at 2,000–3,000 calories for men and 1,600–2,400 calories for women. Apart from gender, there are other factors to consider as you calculate daily calorie expenditure.
Factors That Affect Your Daily Calorie Burn
If you’ve embarked on the task of calculating how many calories you burn a day, prepare to feel overwhelmed! Not only are math formulas involved (hence the creation of many helpful calorie-tracking apps and weight loss apps), scientific terms like diet-induced thermogenesis and physical activity-related energy expenditure make everything harder than it needs to be.
Without going into too many technical details, here are the main factors you should consider to determine how many calories you burn on a day:
- Level of physical activity
Age: Generally speaking, younger people burn more calories per day than older people. As you age, you tend to move less, which reduces muscle mass and the number of calories you burn. However, this largely depends on your lifestyle and activity level; for instance, if you’re 30, don’t exercise, and work at a desk all day, you may be burning fewer calories than a 50-year-old that works outside or exercises.
Sex: As a woman, you might have felt envious of how quickly your male friends or partners get in shape. It seems like all they have to do is work out a bit more than usual, and voilá, they’re fit!
Men tend to have more lean muscle mass, which has to do with their testosterone levels. They also burn through fat reserves much more quickly than women.
Age, sex, height, and weight combine to determine your metabolism, the process by which your body converts food into energy.
Level of Physical Activity: When it comes to physical activity, you need to differentiate between a physical activity you do to improve your health, like lifting weights or going for a run, and a physical activity that occurs while performing everyday tasks like digesting food, standing, walking, cleaning, and even fidgeting. All of these activities burn calories.
Methods to estimate the number of calories burned each day
Use existing estimates. This appendix provides an idea of how many calories you likely burn a day based on your age, sex, and physical activity level. Though it is not the most precise way to estimate the calories you burn daily, it provides a benchmark.
Use an online calculator or application. A more precise way to estimate the number of calories burned per day is to use an online calculator or fitness app.
Most of these will first ask you to input relevant information, such as your age, sex, height, and weight, to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The app asks you to assess your physical activity level, and some calculators may also require that you input your body fat percentage.
Here’s a useful online TDEE calculator (for which you’ll need to know your body fat percentage).
Calculate it manually. It is also possible to calculate your total daily energy expenditure by using the following simple formula:
total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) = basal metabolic rate (BMR) x physical activity level (PAL)
You can read about this process in another HealClub blog called, How do I calculate my maintenance calories?
How many calories do you burn a day? How to Increase the Number of Calories You Burn
So, if you are wondering how to increase the number of calories you burn you should know that there are several options you should keep in mind.
If you increase your overall physical activity level, you’ll burn more calories per day
Add a 5-minute high-intensity interval training workout to your day or start taking the stairs instead of the elevator—you burn about two calories for every one flight of 12 steps (about 0.17 calories per step). Even these small changes can make a difference.
However, whether this difference will help you lose weight depends on other factors, in particular, your diet.
Increase lean muscle mass by adjusting your workout
By adding high intensity, resistance, and strength training to your workout, you’ll start burning fat even after you finish exercising. These types of activities build lean muscle mass and speed up your metabolism.
Burn extra fat through intermittent fasting. You’ll feel its effects within two days, and I’m not referring to hunger and cravings. When you start fasting, your concentration and energy levels increase, making you less sluggish overall and thereby burning more calories with each passing day.
A straightforward approach to intermittent fasting is to stop eating between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. every day (14 hours of fasting, 6–8 of which fly by as your sleep).
Understand your metabolism to make it more efficient
There are three basic types of metabolisms:
- Endomorph: Think of endomorphs as having more overall body fat (because their systems are good at storing nutrients and fat), and they typically have a larger frame. They can build muscle quickly, but their metabolisms tend to be slower.
- Ectomorph: A small body frame (unrelated to height), ectomorphs tend to have low body fat percentages. They burn fat pretty quickly and seemingly don’t gain weight.
- Mesomorph: Folks that fall into this category tend to gain weight most noticeably in the lower part of their bodies. Whether they gain weight depends primarily on their activity levels. When they adopt a new workout routine, they tend to see results rather quickly.
A registered dietitian or trusted health professional can provide useful information to help you adjust your regimen to your metabolic type. The goal is to gradually increase your metabolism’s efficiency through a healthier diet and exercise plan.
Make healthy lifestyle changes
There are simple things you can do to make lasting, positive adjustments to your life—ones that will help you lose weight! Here are some examples: try working out five days a week for 30 minutes, drink eight cups of water a day, prepare your meals at home instead of dining out or doing takeout, and get a solid 7–8 hours of sleep per night.
Remember, when you adjust your routine through diet, sleep, or exercise, consistency will help you stick with these new healthy actions and transform them into habits. Your body will appreciate it, and you’ll feel better as you start noticing the positive effects.