Dietitians can determine their client’s daily energy needs by using certain equations. Here’s how nutrition professionals can use Nutrium to calculate physical activity levels and METs. 

Exercise and certain activities can all have an impact on your client’s energy intake and expenditure. By understanding certain energy expenditure calculations, you, as a dietitian, can tailor your nutrition recommendations to better help your clients achieve their health and fitness goals.

Let’s take a closer look at how METs and PAL are used, why their application is so useful in physical activity levels, and how Nutrium can help you calculate these values.

Understanding energy requirements

Energy requirements can differ based on a variety of factors (like age, sex, weight, height, type of activity performed, and energy intake/expenditure), so as a dietitian, it’s important that you understand how this information can be used to help your clients reach their goals and level up their nutrition. 

It will also give you a better understanding of your client’s energy needs in relation to their physical activity level. 

Calculating energy requirements consists of a few predictive equations – METs and PAL. Let’s discuss each one and get a better understanding of how each one can be used to determine energy intake/expenditure.

What are METs in exercise?

METs (otherwise known as metabolic equivalents) are one way to determine the amount of energy used in exercise or activities and can be used to describe the level of intensity with a numerical value. One MET is approximately 3.5 milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute.

One MET is energy spent at rest, so if an activity has a MET of 4, this means that a person is exerting four times the energy compared to if they were sitting still. Therefore, the higher the MET, the more energy is needed to do that particular activity. 

Here are some general MET guidelines for common activities:

  • 2 METs: Brushing your teeth or loading the washing machine.
  • 3-5.9 METs: Moderate-intensity activities, like sweeping the floor, brisk walking, vacuuming, or pushing a lawn mower.
  • >6.0 METs: Vigorous-intensity activities, like jogging or running, swimming laps, riding a bike, playing soccer, skiing, or hiking.

It’s important to remember that METs are a guide and not an exact mathematical formula. How much energy is expended will differ for everyone, and can depend on fitness levels, body composition, and even ambient temperature. 

Why track METs to classify the physical activity level?

Tracking METs give you a better understanding of your client’s current physical activity level, how much energy they expend, and what their nutritional needs may be. It can also help to identify if the physical activity should be modified (like increasing/decreasing the duration or intensity of activity).

Knowing the METs is important when it comes to nutrition recommendations because it gives deeper insight into your client’s caloric burn. You can use it to estimate the number of calories burned per minute with this formula: METs x 3.5 x (body weight in kilograms) / 200 = kcal/min.

This information can help you adjust your client’s meal plan to better reflect their energy and caloric needs.

TIP: Nutrium software will help you work with your athletes and clients who often exercise. Get to know how.

PAL calculation formula

The Physical Activity Level (or PAL) is a way to express daily physical activity as a number and is used to estimate a person's total energy expenditure (TEE). PAL can be calculated from the average 24-hour TEE and BMR (basal metabolic rate) with the equation PAL = TEE/BMR. You can then multiply the PAL by the BMR to determine your client’s actual energy requirements. 

Here are some ranges for PAL that may be helpful:

  • A PAL value between 1.40-1.69: sedentary or light active lifestyle. 
  • A PAL value between 1.70-1.99: moderately active lifestyle.
  • A PAL value between 2.00-2.40: vigorous or vigorously active lifestyle.

How to calculate PAL using METs with Nutrium

Calculating PAL and METs by hand can be tedious, which is why you should ditch the notepad and let Nutrium do the work for you. Our new update will allow you to calculate physical activity level (PAL) through METs to assess your client's daily energy requirements with ease.

Here’s how you can calculate PAL using METs with Nutrium:

  • On the planning tab, select Physical Activity Level – Calculate PAL.
  • You will see a place to add some of the most common activities (like sleeping, taking a shower, or driving) and the corresponding duration. Be sure to include all activities that your client does in 24 hours. 
  • When the 24-hour period is complete, a sum of all METs will show as well as the physical activity level.

Are you interested in trying this feature out for yourself? Sign up for Nutrium’s free trial to explore our other adaptations for sports nutrition. 


PAL and METs are a few ways to determine your client’s energy needs. These predictive equations and methods of determining physical activity can allow you to tailor your nutrition recommendations to better help clients achieve their health and fitness goals. Nutrium can help you calculate these values with ease with a new feature on the website.



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Measuring physical activity. Retrieved November 23, 2022 from 

5 Things to Know About Metabolic Equivalents. Retrieved November 23, 2022 from 

Energy requirements for adults. Retrieved November 23, 2022 from