TDEE vs BMR: Understanding the Differences & Importance

As a CDL Wellness coach I have found that many drivers are curious about their body mass index, basal metabolic rate, and resting metabolic rate, also known as BMI, BMR or RMR.  You may have seen some of these acronyms on your DOT physical form or another type of health form and wondered what they meant. TDEE vs BMR – What Is What? BMI, BMR and RMR all relate to human health and national standards that have been set relating to your body composition and daily calories burned. They can be used as a guide to determine if you are at risk of a chronic health disease and support you in a weight loss program.

How To Calculate Your BMI

Let’s start with body mass index, or BMI. Your BMI is your weight and height comprised into a formula that determines if you are a normal weight, overweight, or obese. According to the Center for Disease Control a normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, and overweight ranges from 25.0 to 29.9. The CDC guidelines state that any BMI over 30.0 is considered to be obese. Medical professionals will often use BMI to measure if an individual is at risk of chronic health diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea, to name a few. This standard is also enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) which oversees all the standards that must be met in order for a driver to obtain a Division of Transportation medical card (DOT medical card).  The easiest way to stay on top of your BMI is to download a BMI application onto your smart phone and enter in your current height and weight to calculate your current BMI.

Once you have calculated your BMI, if you are not within the normal range, you can adjust the weight portion of the calculator until you are within the normal range. You could then use the weight showing as “normal” as a guide to setting a weight loss goal.

How To Calculate Your BMR

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of calories your body burns at rest.  These are the calories you would burn if you did nothing but sit for the entire day. These are the basic calories that are used to breathe, keep your heart beating, blood circulating, digesting your food, and delivering their nutrients to cells. Your BMR is calculated by using a formula consisting of your height, weight, age, and gender. You can download an application onto your smart phone to calculate your BMR as well.

What Is Your TDEE?

Total Daily Energy Expenditures (TDEE) measures the same type of calories as RMR, PLUS the calories your body burns daily while working, playing, or exercising. You find this number by using a similar calculation for BMR and then adding an activity factor to it. The levels of activity range from sedentary, light activity, moderately active, or very active. Make sure the calculator you select includes your activity level so you can better compare your TDEE to your BMR.  Once you have your TDEE number, you have all the information you need to set a weight loss goal! If you are looking to lose fat, you should eat about 15-20% fewer calories than your TDEE.

Knowing your BMR and TDEE and setting achievable goals to lower your caloric intake can ultimately support you in lowering your BMI. By lowering your BMI and having a basic knowledge of your BMR calculations, you have the ability to reduce the possible onset of chronic health diseases.  If you currently have a chronic health disease, lowering your BMI and being knowledgeable about the amount of calories your body requires daily (BMR) could lower the dosage or possibly eliminate the need for your current medications.  However, don’t make any medication dosage changes or stop a medication without consulting with your medical provider first.


As a CDL driver it is imperative that you are in compliance with the DOT medical card regulations. It is a good idea to know your BMI and BMR numbers prior to going for your next DOT physical. Setting short, achievable health goals can make all the difference between acquiring a one year medical card or a two year card.  The Rolling Strong Wellness Program offers an application that you can download onto your smartphone that includes both a BMI and BMR calculator.  Our drivers can elect to work one-on-one with a Remote CDL Wellness Coach to achieve both short and long term health and wellness goals.

To learn more about our Rolling Strong Wellness Program visit To talk with a CDL Wellness Coach call our Coach Line at 913-551-0106.

By Leonora Ellis (Norie) MA, WLM