Posted On:
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Deciphering Acronyms

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Hey there!!  Welcome to Coach Tip Tuesday!!

Today we’re going to decipher some acronyms.  Specifically, we’re going to decipher RMR and TDEE.  We talked about these quite a bit this weekend at our annual Coaches’ Retreat, and it’s important stuff.

RMR stands for Resting Metabolic Rate.  This is the total amount of energy that is needed to keep your body functioning while it’s at rest; it includes things like the energy you need to breathe and the energy required to keep your heart and brain functioning.  Essentially, RMR is how many calories you need just to exist as a human on Planet Earth.

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure.  This is the total amount of calories a person burns in a given day.  It is the sum of several things, including RMR (which generally accounts for 60-75% of TDEE).  But it also includes the thermogenic effect of food (energy needed to digest and absorb food), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (your activities of daily living such as walking and sleeping), excess post-exercise consumption (your body’s post-exercise calorie burn required to return itself to its resting level of metabolic function), and exercise.

Why are these important??  Because it’s so important to know that they are different.  You must fuel your RMR completely if you are going to exist without complications on this planet.  If you fail to meet your RMR calorie requirements, your body will go into a “preservation mode” of sorts.  If RMR is not met, your body will think that there’s a food shortage, and once it thinks that, it will do what it’s biologically designed to do: it will store any fuel it can so it can be prepared if the food shortage continues.  This is a very primal survival mechanism that has enabled our species to survive thousands of years.  How does your body prepare for food shortages??  By increasing body fat stores.  Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which makes it the most valuable fuel source for the body in times of food shortages.  

What does all of this mean??  Barring any medical condition that disrupts these biological functions, if you fail to consume enough calories to meet your RMR, your body fat percentage will increase.  This is usually the exact opposite result that people who restrict calories are seeking, so it’s important to explain that blind calorie restriction will not necessarily result in weight loss or one’s desired body composition.

Your TDEE is where you have some leeway if you’re looking to lose weight since it’s the sum of all of the demands on your body that require calories.  If you’re seeking to lose weight safely, you need to determine your TDEE on a daily basis and then you can aim to have your total caloric intake for that day be slightly less than your TDEE.  By doing this, you’re allowing your body to function the way that it needs to to exist and do the actions that you ask of it on a daily basis.  More importantly, this type of approach isn’t so drastically different than consuming a full TDEE’s worth of calories that it’s more likely to be sustainable in the long run for you.

If you take exactly nothing else away from this week’s tip, take away this: do not just cut calories and think that you’ll get the results you’re looking for.  Take these factors into account and have mindful caloric consumption to make sure that you’re fueling properly to be the best you.

Is your head still swimming with acronyms??  You all know how to reach me if you’d like to chat more about this. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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