Burn It With TEF

21 Jan Burn It With TEF

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I can hear it now, “Not another goddamn acronym to learn.”


But, relax, it’s an easy one to remember – and an interesting one too.


So, gather around, and let’s get you up to speed with what this TEF actually is and why it may be important to you and your physique goals.


Idaho. Lower Salmon River. Playing guitar around campfire. MR


What is it?


TEF, or, The Thermic Effect of Food, is the amount of energy (calories) your body uses to digest all those tasty nutrients you get out of things like grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. Yeah, you know, the typical foods everyone says is what you have to eat to lose weight…




But whilst better energy can of course be taken from higher quality and wholefoods – like the above example – to be used as fuel, when you consume pretty much anything, your body is immediately pumping away and instantly burning a certain amount of the overall calories of that particular food.
Sounds pretty good for most people wanting to lose weight, right?


It is.


Ever wondered why when you eat “proper” foods when trying to lose weight that you seem to lose it faster than sticking to less-than-ideal foods?


Well, TEF can play a part in this.


And while you can generally feel fuller when eating “proper” food as opposed to super-processed due to it holding more nutrient density and value, less-than-ideal foods just can’t stack up against the better quality stuff in regards to high-caloric burning value – despite, of course, the taste that some of those foods can deliver.


Semi round up.


So, get and stay fuller longer, and also burn more calories by consuming nutrient-dense food. Sounds pretty good to me.


But let’s break down what you can actually get from each food source, shall we?


Breaking it down.


Alright so, with each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fats, alcohol), comes a different TEF burn amount and level.


This means that consuming the same amount of calories from a protein will give you a higher immediate burn than eating the same amount from a fat.




Note: Before reading through the breakdown for how each one rolls, keep in mind that everyone and their digestion rate are different, so, these numbers may or may not be completely on point.


For proteins, you can get around a 20-25% TEF burn for every food you consume.


So what, right? Well, for example, say you consume a meal consisting of 200g cooked chicken breast. The protein content comes out at around 50g. By doing some simple, yet highly-boring math (0.2 x 50 = 10), we find out that just by consuming this chicken breast, we can quite possibly burn around 10g of its energy through TEF.


Pretty crazy, right?


But, let’s continue.


For simple carbohydrates – sugary things like candy, biscuits, et cetera, et cetera – we’re looking at around a 4-7% TEF burn.


Complex carbohydrates (ie. fibrous vegetables), a nice 15-20% for TEF.


Fats we get around 3-4%. And alcohol, a hearty 15-20%.


So now let’s put it in a larger example for you since I doubt too many people out there just eat a chicken breast solely.


Meal and TEF example.


Let’s say you ate a meal that totaled entailed 150g chicken, 400g scrumptious white rice, 100g of broccoli, and 500g of honey macadamia ice-cream.




You would be looking at around;

Protein: 68g

Sugar carbs: 100g

Other carbs: 156g

Fats: 89g


If we do some more boring math – using the stats that for each gram of protein and carbs we get around 4 calories, and for every gram of fat we get around 9 – we find out that just by eating this super-tasty meal, we’re looking at a TEF of 189 calories.


Which, whilst it’s not too much, don’t forget this is just from consuming the meal.


Not too bad, I think.


Complete round up.


TEF is a super-small thing to think about when planning meals, but it still counts.


It can be the missing calories that people are not consuming whilst trying to put on weight, and it can also be the missing calories that are causing too harsh of a deficit when trying to lose it, too.


So, it’s definitely something to take into account.


Let me know if you have any Q’s by chucking them in the comments below.



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Hayden Perno
Hayden Perno