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How much may I eat? Calorie estimates based upon energy expenditure prediction equations


SB Heymsfield, Clinical Research, Metabolism, Merck Research Laboratories, 126 E. Lincoln Avenue, PO Box 2000, RY34A-A238, Rahway 07065-0900, NJ, USA. E-mail:


How much may I eat? Most healthcare workers, when asked this question, have insufficient knowledge to educate their patients on a healthy energy intake level. In this review we examine the available methods for estimating adult energy requirements with a focus on the newly developed National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine (NAS/IOM) doubly-labelled water total energy expenditure (TEE) prediction equations. An overview is first provided of the traditional factorial method of estimating energy requirements. We then extend this overview by exploring the development of the NAS/IOM TEE prediction models and their role in estimating energy requirments as a function of sex, age, weight, height and physical activity level. The NAS/IOM prediction models were developed for evaluating group energy requirements, although the formulas can be applied in individual ‘example’ patients for educational purposes. Potential limitations and interpretation issues of both the factorial and NAS/IOM methods are examined. This information should provide healthcare professionals with the tools and understanding to appropriately answer the question, ‘How much may I eat?’