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4 TDEE, BMR, and BMI

You hear the terms "TDEE", "BMR", and "BMI" thrown around a lot in the healthy living, weight loss, and various diet communities. So what are they anyway, how do you find out what yours are, and why do they matter?

Simple (layperson's) definitions go like this (oversimplified, but pretty much the parts most of us need to know:)

TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) = basically your "break even" calorie point for any given day. As long as you accept the notion that, if calories IN = calories OUT, you will neither gain, nor lose weight, it's the baseline from which you measure your progress on the journey. TDEE is based primarily on height, weight, and, importantly, level of exercise (since it "burns" calories). Within reason, for exercise - "more is better" and will (all else being equal) increase the number of calories you'll need to consume daily. However, most people OVERestimate their level of physical activity so, when making your selections, if you're torn between "moderate" and "light" (for example) it's probably "light".

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is basically the number of calories you should "burn" just sitting around on the couch and sleeping all day. Of course NO ONE here actually does that, so we consider it as the "bottom line" number of calories you must consume each day to maintain you body in a healthy state. The only time you should consume less calories than your BMR is on a "fasting" day, for those that go that route.

BMI (Body Mass Index) is the old standby most have heard of and your Doc probably reminds you of on every visit. Unfortunately, it's really not all that reliable or accurate since it's based on only height and weight and ignores a number of other important considerations. Pregnant women, people under 5', and children should take the number with a grain of salt. It is, however, very commonly referred to, easily calculated, and, if nothing else another pretty good "baseline" reference to use for tracking progress.

We'll deal with some other types of measurements and calculators in a future article but for now, these three will get you off to a good start and, don't "panic" at the word "calculations" - there's actually NO math involved at all.

Click on this link and it will bring you to an online calculator that figures it all out for you - you just have to weigh and measure yourself and be as honest as you can on level of exercise.