Your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) is determined by adding three figures: 1) Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), 2) Your physical activity level (PAL), and 3) The thermic effect of the food you eat (TEF)
Together, these show us how quickly your body is burning the fuel you’re taking in, day in and day out. Let’s begin by looking separately at those three components.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy you use for your basic bodily needs. Even when your body’s at rest, it’s using fuel to breathe, grow, circulate your blood, adjust your hormone levels, repair cells, and perform other functions. Typically, BMR is the largest portion of the TEE energy equation. Because the energy required by these basic functions remains fairly consistent, this number doesn’t tend to change much.
Physical Activity Level (PAL) is the energy you use when you move—playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing after the dog. You have control of this number, and can change it quite a bit depending on the frequency, duration, and intensity of your activities.
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) is the energy your body uses to process your food. Digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing food all take energy— about 10 percent of the calories you use each day. For the most part, this number stays steady.
BMR is the largest energy user, accounting for 60–75 percent of your daily expenditure. PAL ranges from 25–30 percent, and TEF takes up 10–15 percent. To find out your TEE using the easy method, use the following formula: Your current weight (in pounds) × 11 calories = TEE (daily caloric need)
This formula is based on a sedentary individual, so you’ll need to adjust it as you step up your exercising, as follows:
Multiply your TEE by:
1.2 (for light exercise daily)
1.5 (for moderate exercise daily)
1.7 (for heavy exercise daily)
For example: 162 lbs × 11 kcal/lb = 1,782 kcal × 1.2 = 2,138 kcal/day (TEE)