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Entries in thermic effect of food (5)


Does Protein Really Curb Your Appetite? 

It's hard not to get misled by misinformation, or hype, when you're searching for reliable information on weight management. The daily rush to publish makes even seemingly reliable sources vulnerable to "getting it wrong"—because it takes time to do enough research to make sure you've got it right.

Nutrition Action didn't 'get it right' with their recent post on protein and appetite: Does Protein Really Curb Your Appetite?

After more than two decades specializing in weight management I have 52 papers tagged under "appetite regulation" in my research database. Appetite regulation is a fascinating and important topic within weight management. I covered it in my 6-hour Advanced Training in Weight Management CE workshop back in 2003 and 2004, and since then have only seen one other seminar on macronutrients and appetite regulation cross my desk. I know the key papers off the top of my head, and I know that the fact that protein has a higher satiety value is not even a question among researchers who are experts in that area.

That said, there are several important caveats...

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Protein and the Thermic Effect of Food

The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) is one of the three major components of daily energy expenditure, the other two components being a) Basal Metabolic Rate and b) the energy cost of activity.  

The energy expenditure from TEF is related to the stimulation of obligatory energy-requiring processes associated with eating, digesting, absorbing, and storing food (as well as the facultative energy expenditure associated with hormone secretion, sodium-potassium ATPase pump activity, protein synthesis, and substrate recycling).

The TEF raise in metabolism spikes after meals, and gradually declines over ~10 hours (as determined by the return to Basal Metabolic Rate). The main determinant of TEF is the total energy content of the meal (total calories consumed), followed by the protein fraction of the meal.

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Eating More Often Does NOT Boost Your Metabolism!

How many times have you heard the advice to eat more often (i.e. three meals, and two or three snacks per day) because you will supposedly burn more of the calories you eat because eating more often boosts your metabolism?


If you think the claim sounds a little fishy, your instincts are good—the claim that eating more often boosts your metabolism is completely false.


Here’s all you need to know. A small part of your total energy expenditure is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF simply represents the amount of energy (calories) your body uses to digest your meal. On average TEF amounts to just 10% of the calories in your meal.

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Can you Become Obese by Eating Just an Extra Bite of Food per Day?

Jane Brody (veteran food columnist for the New York Times) recently reported, “According to researchers is easy to gain weight unwittingly from a very small imbalance in the number of calories consumed over calories used.” Brody continues, “Just 10 extra calories a day is all it takes to raise the body weight of the average person by 20-pounds in 30 years, the authors wrote.

What do you think Ms. Brody meant in the preceding statement?

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Breakfast Boosts Metabolism – Fact or Fiction?

Have you ever wondered if breakfast really boosts your metabolism—as you so often hear?


As a health educator I can give you a lot of good reasons to eat breakfast—the notion that it boosts your metabolism, however, isn't one of them!

Digesting food does “cost” an average of 10% of a meal's calories to digest and assimilate it (see TEF, below). However, is that really a “boost” in metabolism? No, it is not. When you read these claims that "breakfast boosts your metabolism" it's implied that eating breakfast has an affect on your underlying metabolic rate. That is simply not the case. The only metabolic affect of eating breakfast is the commensurate TEF, just as for any meal.

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