How to Calculate Your Daily Energy Expenditure

We ingest nutrition from the foods that we eat. But our bodies use energy differently. As a result, a plate of cookies doesn't equate to the same thing as a cup of fruit.
How to Calculate Your Daily Energy Expenditure

Last update: 03 May, 2019

Want to know how to calculate your daily energy expenditure? There are different ways and formulas that you can use to get started. We’ll explain them to you in our post today.

What is energy expenditure?

First things first, we need to know what energy expenditure really is. In short, it’s the relationship between the amount of energy that a body needs and that of what it consumes.

The body needs a minimal amount of calories to carry out all of its metabolic processes. If you consume less than that amount, your body will use its reserves and likely slim down as a result. On the contrary, if you eat more than what your body needs, the excess will build up and your body will gain weight.

consume energy 1

Additionally, we can’t forget about ration sizes and the kinds of activities that we might do daily, as well as age, metabolism, and hormones. To give you an example, an athletic adolescent will likely have a higher energy expenditure than an adult who works 10 hours a day at an office.

Calculating the required energy

So, why should you know about energy expenditure? If you want to lose or gain weight, energy expenditure can be a valuable piece of information. Everyone needs a minimum amount of calories for their bodies to maintain vital functions, so we should all calculate and make sure that we’re taking in the necessary amount. As for exceeding or decreasing, that’ll depend on your personal goals.

The Harris-Benedict equation is the most well-known way to calculate energy expenditure:

  • For women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilos) + (1.8 height in centimeters) – (4.7 x age in years)
  • For men: 66+ (13.7 x weight in kilos) + (5 x height in centimeters) – (6.5 x age in years)

Let’s say that a 30-year-old woman weighs 60 kilos and is 1.70 meters tall. Using the equation, we’ll have: 655 + (9.6 x 60) + (1.8 x 170) – (4.7 x 30). It equals 1,396 calories. For a 45-year-old man who weighs 95 kilos and is 1.90 meters tall: 66 + (13.7 x 95) + (5 x 190) – (6.5 x 45). It equals 2,025 calories.

formula 2

How to use this information

Using this information, you can calculate your total daily energy expenditure according to what kind of physical activity you do. If you don’t exercise at all, multiply your initial number by 1.2. On the other hand, if you do light exercise (once to three times a week), multiply it by 1.375. If you do moderate exercise (three to five times a week), multiply the number by 1.55. For the athletes that do intense workouts (six to seven days a week), multiply by 1.725. Lastly, professional athletes can multiply their numbers by 1.9.

If you want to lose weight, consume fewer calories than your final calculation. But if you want to build muscle mass or gain weight, you’ll have to do the opposite (consume more calories).

You’ll also have more flexibility with your energy expenditure if you exercise often or do intense routines. By spending more energy, you won’t have to eat less because you’re moving more. But of course, for some, dieting is easier than going to the gym. It all boils down to personal preferences!


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.