What You Eat Can Determine How Many Calories You Burn

Mike Coval
January 5, 2021

There's something that contributes to the total amount of calories that you burn in a day called the "Thermic Effect of Feeding" (TEF)

What this means is that your body requires energy to digest, absorb, store, and get rid of the foodstuffs that you ingest on a daily basis and then gives off that energy as heat.

This accounts for roughly 10% of the total amount of calories that you burn in a day.

Now, food is composed of 3 macronutrients that account for total calories; fat, carbohydrate, and protein.

Can you guess which of these 3 requires the most energy (aka calories) from your body to break down and digest?

If you said "protein", then give yourself a high-five and a protein bar!

In fact, protein can require up to 20% greater energy expenditure than breaking down fat or carbohydrates.  It is likely to be on the higher end after a workout where you're doing resistance training (aka using weights).

This is another reason why we encourage protein intake at roughly 1 gram per pound of bodyweight (given that your kidneys are healthy and you drink sufficient amounts of water).

This isn't even taking account that you will burn more calories with the extra lean muscle tissue that you're carrying due to working out and eating more protein.

Now, with that said, keep in mind, that the total amount of calorie burn contributed by TEF is very small.  However, it is important that we modify the composition of your meals and most people could use an increase in protein and a decrease in carbohydrates (carbs aren't "bad", it's just that we have to cut back on either carbohydrates or fat and carbs are less essential based on most of our lifestyles).

Don't think that TEF will make a dramatic impact on your bodyweight.  It can, but it's not the golden ticket to success.  Just something that you should be aware of, and know that you're doing yourself a favor.

In the next part of the series, we will discuss non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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