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Health & Wellness Fitness Resources

Energy Balance & TDEE

What is Energy Balance & TDEE? We define and explore these scientific principles, that may help you to understand how nutrition and movement interact with your body to create physical, mental and all round health improvements.

Most importantly if you can begin to understand these biological principles you start to unlock the lifelong knowledge you’ll need to positively influence your personal health and body goals  

Energy Balance

This refers to the relationship between energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out. “Energy in” is the nutrition you consume that contain the calories to fuel your body and activity. “Energy out” is the amount of calories you burn in total, usually calculated over a 24 hour period.  TDEE is another way of saying energy out. more in this shortly.

As you can see in the infographic below if calories eaten are the same as calories burned then you stay the same weight (neutral energy balance).

If calories eaten are less than you burned then you’ll loose weight (negative energy balance).

And if calories eaten are more than you burned then you’ll gain weight (positive energy balance).

These understanding are also referred to as the laws of thermodynamics. Which states energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but transferred between entities. Put simply you can’t gain weight if you don’t consume it. Nor can you loose weight if you don’t use it. Essentially Your body is a result of what you eat and how much you move. This though isn’t the entire picture.

Your energy balance affects your metabolism, hormones, mood, muscle and bone mass, performance and much more. These all directly impact your ability to loose, gain or sustain weight.

Energy Balance Example HWK FIT

Negative Energy Balance

An extreme and consistent negative energy balance can result in lost muscle ad bone mass, a reduction in thyroid hormones, the lowering of testosterone levels, poor concentration and decline in performance. This also will result in weight loss for sure. Sustaining that lost weight however becomes increasingly harder the more times you aggressively restrict calories. Because you damage your metabolism and lower your ability to efficiently burn calories. Which is why low to moderate restrictions may be more beneficial.

Positive Energy Balance

In equal measure consistenat overeating comes with its own health risks. Obviously weight gain will occur. Possibly more concerning is what’s going on inside. You may become insulin resistant increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes. Plaques may fur up the arteries increasing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack, which can be fatal. Cellular fitness can decline which increases the risk of cancers, tumours and other diseases.

Our bodies are very clever and adaptable. It can sense severe changes and will respond accordingly, using survival mechanism to keep you safer. Too little food and your body will encourage you to seek it. Too much food and it will encourage you to restrict and slow food consumption. During which you’ll experience symptoms that if you listen to are trying to indicate what might be going on inside. Think of them like warning shots.

Your defining goal should be to feel great, look great and think great.

To truly achieve this making a concerted effort to adjust your lifestyle, habits and behaviours is where people see real meaningful and life time health improvements. You simply won’t be able to sustain a terrible diet and get away with it. Even if you exercise regularly. We are the direct result of our daily actions and behaviours, both inside and outside.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

TDEE expands on the “energy out” part of the energy balance equation. Energy out isn’t just exercise. its actually a little more complex than that. It involves four element that have differing levels of relevance in term of burning energy. See below our infographic for a better understanding.

In order of effectiveness let’s take a look at how TDEE is stacked.

TDEE Percentage Table

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

This equates for around 65% of your TDEE. This energy is used by the body for essential purposes. For tasks such as breathing, heart beat, basically all the the tasks that keep you alive. There’s little you can do about this number, but increasing your muscle mass and quality may enable you to eat more without weight gain (within reason). This takes time and effort however.

Non Essential Activity Thermogenesis.

These calories equate to around 15% of you TDEE. And are burned through slow and steady daily movement tasks like getting the shopping, housework, gardening, walking to pick the kids up etc. It essentially all movement that isn’t purposeful exercise. To increase the amount of calories here. learn to move more rather than sitting still. If your an office worker stand up to work if you can or take regular walking breaks. If you work at home keep moving. Walk to work, instead of drive. Just find ways to up your movement within our capacity.

Thermic Effect Of Food (TEF)

TEF represents around 10% of your daily energy burned. Food that you eat needs to be digested and absorbed. This takes energy. Different foods have require varying degrees of energy to break down. So your diet style will impact the percentage of calories burned through TEF. Its thought that the following macronutrients impact TEF as follows.

This means therefore that eating a diet high in fibre can increase calories burned through TEF. Which means if you ate 100 calories in protein 20-30 of those calories would be used just to digest it.

Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)

EAT equates to around 10% of your daily energy burned. This though can rise to as high as 30% depending on your exercise regime. As the name suggest these calories are burned through purposeful exercise. Movement that is carried out with an intended elevated heart rate. Many of my clients are surprised at the how few calories are actually burned through exercise. Obviously if you’re running marathons regularly you EAT will be higher, but for the vast majority of us you’ll likely burn between 200 & 600 calories per hour of exercise, although admittedly this is high variable.


Hopefully you have a better understand about the use of calories and how it can impact your body composition, mental state and inner health. To expand your understanding discuss this with your coach or book a session to explore more. Understanding these scientific principles will really help you when it comes to making positive health improvements.



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