Total daily energy expenditure or TDEE is the total energy or calories used in a day. There are four components that make up TDEE: resting metabolic rate (RMR), thermic effect of food (TEF), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), and exercise energy expenditure (ExEE).
Resting metabolic rate is the energy used by an individual for all cellular processes necessary to maintain life while lying around all day. AKA, the amount of energy or calories burned just to lay around and do nothing. For a 5’2”, 100-pound women, this is somewhere around 1200 calories. For sedentary individuals, RMR accounts for approximately 70-75% of their daily energy expenditure. RMR is different for everyone and changes based on weight, height, age, sex, and lean body mass.
Thermic effect of food is the increase is energy expenditure above RMR in response to the ingestion of food, which includes digestion, absorption, transport, and cell assimilation. Quite literally, we are using energy/calories when we eat food – energy is needed for digestion, absorption, and the transport of food through our GI tract.
Exercise energy expenditure is the energy used during exercise or activity. Exercise is defined as movements done for the purpose of improving or maintaining health or performance related physical fitness. Exercise is the most variable component of daily energy expenditure and changes based on the intensity, duration, mode, and frequency. On any given day, the expenditure from exercise can range from zero calories (for the non-exerciser or on rest day) to several thousand calories (think marathon or triathlon training).
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is the energy expenditure resulting from activity or movement that is not considered exercise. These movements may include fidgeting and activities of daily living, like walking, talking, gardening, or doing the laundry. One of the reasons sitting has been deemed the new smoking is because maintaining posture is considered a component of NEAT, and we maintain posture more regularly when we are standing. Sitting expenditure is lower than standing, as standing requires muscle contractions to maintain balance, which uses energy.
You can think of RMR, TEF, ExEE, and NEAT as the components that make up your metabolism. So, what are some ways to increase TDEE and ultimately metabolism?
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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