Basal Energy Expenditure

What factors influence daily energy needs? Total energy expenditure includes:

  1. Basal metabolic rate. This reflects the energy the body needs for basic functions while at rest. 
  2. Dietary-induced thermogenesis, or the thermic effect of food. This is the energy the body needs to digest and absorb food. 
  3. The thermic effect of activity. This is the most variable as it reflects the energy needed for physical activity.  For sedentary individuals this could be as low as 15% of total energy expenditure but for athletes it could be as high as 80%.  

For more on this article, please click Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., FACSM

Basal Energy Expenditure

Basal Energy Expenditure:
Harris-Benedict Equation

Estimate basal energy expenditure using the Harris-Benedict equations.

  Male Female
Input Height cm in
Input Weight kg lb
Input Age yrs mos
Stress Factor
Activity Factor Bedrest Ambulating


B.E.E. =   kcal/d
Caloric Requirement  =   kcal/d


For men,
B.E.E. = 66.5 + (13.75 x kg) + (5.003 x cm) - (6.775 x age)

For women,
B.E.E. = 655.1 + (9.563 x kg) + (1.850 x cm) - (4.676 x age)

Total Caloric Requirements equal the B.E.E. multiplied by the sum of the stress and activity factors. Stress plus activity factors range from 1.2 to over 2.

*Cornell University Calculators