Burn Calories While You Eat!

Burn Calories While You Eat!
By Chuck Dertinger

How in the world can you burn calories while eating? Answer = TEF

If you could become leaner, healthier, and increase your energy levels simply by eating more often, would you think I am crazy? Don’t worry I am not going to try and sell you some magical pill or fairy dust that is going to turn unhealthy food choices into miracle foods, that’s just impossible!!

Calories are what we eat right? So how in the world can we burn them while consuming them? Seems opposite… Well here is an amazing finding, what we call Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF). TEF is a vital component to your metabolism. TEF is the amount of energy expenditure above the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) your body exerts while we eat.

So how much energy do we burn while eating you may ask? Good question… a common percentage for the thermic effect of feeding is 10%, meaning the average energy expenditure used to digest your food substrates is 10% of the total calorie intake of that meal.

Without getting into to much detail we also need to understand that carbohydrates, fats, and proteins have differing effects on TEF. Dietary fats and carbohydrates have a lower TEF in comparison to dietary proteins.TEF of protein is nearly DOUBLE the energy expenditure needed for carbs and fats. So what does this mean? Well, consuming more lean proteins, while maintaining a balanced diet can increase your TEF.

A study found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition(2004) written by Thomas Halton, and Frank Hu, titled “ The effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety, and Weight loss: A Critical Review” showed promising results for increasing TEF through a high protein diet, leading to satiety and ultimately weight loss or weight control. This literature review examined over 30 studies focusing on protein consumption and fat lose. In their conclusion they wrote:

“Our review suggests that higher protein diets may significantly increase total weight lost and possibly percentage of fat lost when compared to a lower protein diet in the short term… Possible mechanisms include an increased satiety and decreased subsequent energy intake with higher protein diets… A higher thermogenesis for protein is a possible mechanism as well, but the studies included in this review were of too short a duration for this to be conclusive… Another possible mechanism is the displacement of carbohydrate, especially refined carbohydrate, in the diet by dietary protein.”

What does this all mean? Thermic Effect of Feeding, sounds complicated. Should you be eating more often? Or should you be eating more proteins at each meal? These are all valid questions to be asking yourself. Truthfully it all depends on your nutritional and fitness goals.

Eating more often and smaller meals is something many professionals in the health industry now recommend, but further research should be done if you want to do this on a day to day bases. Try and look for articles to understand portion control and the types of food you want to eat.

Eating lean proteins with each meal is also recommended for anyone! So that one is a no brainer, how much protein? That will be explained below.

Now just because you know TEF means you are using 10% of the energy you consume to transport and digest your food doesn’t give you the privilege to consume 10% more food, sorry.

What this article does point out though is through a high protein diet and the understanding of TEF we can promote our bodies to feel full longer, work harder to break down the foods we eat, and overall promote fat lose.

There is some common sense needed here as well. Consuming McDonald’s hamburgers instead of eating 4 breakfast biscuits is NOT going to help you!! When talking about a high protein diet choice, chicken breast, lean ground beed (90% or leaner), ground turkey, turkey breast, egg whites, natural free range eggs, beans, legumes, and quinoa are just a few of the great choices you can make when choosing lean proteins.

Dr. John Berardi recommends the following consumption of proteins per day:

Women – 1 serving of lean, complete protein (20-30g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so
Men – 2 servings of lean, complete protein (40-60g) with each meal, every 3 hours or so

In conclusion you can burn more calories while you are eating if you choose lean meats/proteins, increasing your thermic effect of feeding, not to mention promoting fat lose through restricted carbohydrate intake. I told you I wasn’t going to be able to sell you a magical pill or fairy dust, but this article does prove the importance of lean protein choices in your everyday life, and don’t forget to exercise!!!!

Thomas Halton, and Frank Hu. The effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety, and Weight loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition(2004)

About the Author

Coach Chuck Dertinger is an accomplished fitness and nutrition expert, holding a Masters Degree in Science with a concentration in Exercise Physiology. Chuck lives, breaths, and loves to promote healthy lifestyle choices. He went from skinny to brawny gaining over 50-lbs of muscle in a couple of years through the use of sound training and nutrition tactics. Feel free to add him on Facebook and ask any questions with relation to nutrition or exercise.