Activity Level Guide

To accurately estimate your TDEE/Total Daily Energy Expenditure, all you need to know is your BMR/Basal Metabolic Rate (which you can calculate using the weight loss calculator here), and your activity factor.

But deciding which activity category you fit into can be tricky – often, the descriptions are frustratingly vague and it can be difficult to pick which is the most accurate for you. I’ve done a lot of research and put together this short guide, which I hope will help you pick the right category, and get a more accurate TDEE result.

Sedentary:

Little or no exercise, has a desk job or restricted mobility (e.g. always drives rather than walks, takes the lift or escalator rather than the stairs, does not exercise or play sports at all). (E.g. a web designer who works from home and drives everywhere else.)

Lightly active:

Light exercise or sports 1-3 days per week. This includes people who walk on a daily basis, take the stairs, but do not have an exercise regime as such, or basically sedentary people who exercise or play sports fewer than three times a week. (E.g. An office clerk who walks a couple of miles to work every day.)

Moderately active:

Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week. This level is for people who exercise or play very active sports at least three times a week, every week – e.g. fit people who exercise on a regular basis, or who have consistently active jobs (e.g. a waiter in a busy restaurant who is on his feet all day, or a programmer with a desk job who goes to the gym every day.)

Very active:

Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week, or a physically demanding daily job. This level would include serious non-professional athletes, (E.g. a marathon runner who trains hard every day, or a manual agricultural worker/fruit picker.)

Athlete:

Very hard exercise or sports more than once every day or a physical job that requires exceptional fitness. (E.g. a professional tennis player, bodybuilder, lumberjack or soldier.)

Now you know which activity level to pick, click here to go back to the Ultimate Weight Loss Calculator.

5 Comments

  1. I am still rather unclear as to whether I should select moderately active or very active.
    I walk ~12,000 steps a day every day, plus do 50 squats, 20 lunges and 15 bicep curls every other day (takes about 7-10 minutes to do.) So what does this count as?

    • jmcooper@jmcooperart.com

      Hi Sera! I’d say that was moderately active, but if you’re not sure, one thing you could do is just select ‘sedentary’ and then track how many calories you burn through exercise – then add that on to your BMR.

  2. Hi! I don’t know if I should select moderate or very active. 4 times a week I run and I do a workout program, 2 days a week I do crossfit and a workout program. Plus I do around 10000 steps everyday. What should I pick?

  3. Hi, I walk 2-3 miles 5-7 days per week at a 3 mph pace every week, plus I lift weights for 5 minutes a day everyday. I’m also starting to add in 30 second jogging intervals to my waking routine. Not to including doing lots of chores around the house like cooking and cleaning. Is this considered lightly active or moderately active? Thank you.

    • jmcooper@jmcooperart.com

      Hmm, hard to say. I would probably go with lightly active, and see how you get on. If you’re losing weight faster than expected, you’re probably closer to moderately active. The alternative to to pick sedentary, and calculate your calories burned through exercise separately, then add them to your daily calorie need. (Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or medical professional, this isn’t medical advice 🙂

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