The Thermic Effect of Food

We burn energy (calories) when we metabolize the food we eat.  In other words, it takes energy to digest, absorb and process the nutrients we consume, and this is the “Thermic Effect of Food”.

The thermic effect of the different macronutrients are as follows:

Fat   2%-3%
Carbs   6%-8%
Protein   25-30%

The precise thermic effect varies,but it is obvious that it takes a lot less energy or calories to metabolize fats or carbohydrates than it does to metabolize protein.  Let’s say the thermic effect of protein is 25% and the thermic effect of fat is 2%. This means that if you were to consume 100 calories of protein you would end up with 75 calories, while if you were to consume 100 calories of fat you would end up with 98 calories.

In addition to protein, whole foods have a higher thermic effect than processed foods. One study  compared the thermic effect of a sandwich made with whole grain bread and cheddar cheese with a sandwich made from refined grains and processed cheese. The result – digesting the whole grain sandwich burned twice the calories of the sandwich made with refined grains.

In short, calories from protein and whole foods require more energy to digest than calories from processed foods. Keep this in mind if you are looking to lose weight.

Fruits and Vegetables

A recent study by the Imperial College London reports that two-thirds of English citizens have a hard time consuming three to four portions of fruits and vegetables a day. For years it has been recommended we consume five portions a day to lower the risk of stroke by 18%, heart disease by 16%, cardiovascular disease by 13%, cancer by 4% , and an overall risk of an early death by 15%.
The study shows we should be eating platefuls of fruits and vegetables; if five portions are good, ten portions are better. Dr. Darin, the lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial states,” We wanted to investigate how much fruits and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruits and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better”.
Ten portions leads to a 24% reduction in heart disease, a 33% less chance of stroke, a 28% less chance of cardiovascular disease, a 13% less chance of cancer and a 31% less chance of premature death.
It is recommended that you eat the “rainbow”, or the different colors of veggies and fruits to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Not all vegetables and fruits are equal. Some fruits and vegetables are better at preventing heart disease and stroke while green veggies are better at reducing the chance of cancer.
Following are examples of the recommended size of a portion of fruits and vegetables. One apple, one pear, one glass of orange juice, one tomato, one banana, three tablespoons of peas and two broccoli spears.
Keep this in mind the next time you are preparing a meal or reaching for a snack. Load up your dinner plate with vegetables and be sure to keep plenty of fruit on hand!