At the moment how many of us are eating more through boredom, not eating enough through lack of routine or even just simply not physically doing a lot during the day? What have you found yourself doing more or less of than you normally would during the day? 

  • Are you walking less or more?
  • Are you exercising more than you ever have, or has this completely dropped off? 
  • Are you eating less or more?
  • Are you doing less housework because your partner is at home doing more?
  • Have you taken up any new hobbies?

We are living in strange times and this can have an effect on our daily lives and how we are presently living. With no clear sign of returning to the way our lives were, especially in the foreseeable future, we need to adapt. If you’re feeling like you have less energy or are hungry more of the time, there could be a simple reason for this, you may be in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is where you’re not consuming enough calories to meet your energy output.

Quite simply if you are exercising more than you ever have, but eating the same amount, this will create a calorie deficit. Alternatively, if you’re eating more than you usually do, but exercising less this will create a calorie surplus. This is why having an understanding not only of your energy input (Kcal) but your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is just as important.


The total number of calories that you burn each day.


Person A was consuming 2000 calories daily and their Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) was also around 2000 calories. This means their energy balance is neutral, therefore they won’t gain any weight and they won’t lose any weight. This is known as maintaining.


Person A now during lockdown has continued to maintain their 2000 calorie daily intake. However, their TDEE has dropped from 2000 to 1500 which means they have a calorie surplus of 500. So this is due to the current situation that most of us are all in, working from home and only having to move around the house, not going out as much, not walking around campus, no sports and just simply not moving as much as usual. 

I want to talk about our Energy Balance and how this is all broken down. So your TDEE is broken down as the following;

  • RESTING ENERGY EXPENDITURE (REE) makes up 70% of your TDEE which is calories burnt to enable regular body functions such as breathing, digestion and movement.
  • NON-RESTING ENERGY EXPENDITURE (NREE) is the remaining 30% of your TDEE  which is all your calories burnt through exercise. For example, going to the gym or doing your home workouts. The best way to increase your TDEE is by daily exercising but it is also not the only way. 

Let’s look into the breakdown and components of REE and NREE.

  • BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR) will be the same as your REE. It’s important not to drop below this number of calories consumed as it can cause health problems and affect body function. Think of those with anorexia whose hair starts to fall out, whose circulation is poor or have regular headaches.
  • NON-EXERCISE ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS (NEAT) which are things like fidgeting, carrying the shopping in the house, standing up from your chairs, jobs around the house and just simply moving from A to B. Depending on your fitness level this could include walking.
  •  THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD (TEF) in a nutshell, is burning calories through eating foods and certain foods such as protein, which requires more energy to digest. 
  • EXERCISE ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS (EAT) any form of exercise that increases the heart rate; our Facebook live fitness classes, a daily run or cycle, a HIIT session, gardening or house improvements. This can be strength or cardio-based.

A lot of Personal Trainers will recommend increasing your protein intake as this will not only help burn more calories, it also helps you to not overeat, as it provides you with that feeling of fullness and reduces the urge to not to overindulge in certain high-calorie foods. 

Going back to the individual’s calorie surplus at the start of this we have a couple of ways we can look at to help bring their TDEE back up to match the calories they are consuming daily. Like a lot of us, we are eating at irregular times and it’s not always the right foods too.

Achieving neutral balance by:

    • DECREASING THE AMOUNT OF HIGH-CALORIE FOODS: Keep the sugary snacks out of reach, increase your protein, keep your fruit bowl full and reduce the daily doughnuts. 
    • INCREASING NEAT: If you have a desk job, get up and move for at least 5 minutes every hour. Take a walk around your room, do some gardening, run an errand, set yourself a stair challenge to climb at least 20 flights by the end of the working day. Household chores, grab a mop and get cleaning and this will all help to improve your Energy Balance. Go for a walk after work to increase your expenditure.

Keeping track of your total daily energy output can be done through smartwatches or a Fitbit, however, there are many different apps you can download which help keep track of your TDEE and energy input (daily calories). You can also use online calorie calculators to work out how many calories you burn daily.

I hope this gives you a little understanding of your daily calorie intake and finding that balance during this period of time.