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Thermic Effect of Food

Some of the calories in the food you ingest will be used to digest, absorb, and metabolize the rest of the food, and some will be burned off as heat. This process is known under various names, notably diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), specific dynamic action (SDA), and thermic effect of food (TEF).

Our evidence-based analysis on thermic effect of food features 38 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Thermic Effect of Food

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Some of the calories in the food you ingest will be used to digest, absorb, and metabolize the rest of the food, and some will be burned off as heat. This process is known under various names, notably diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), specific dynamic action (SDA), and thermic effect of food (TEF).[1][2]

TEF represents about 10% of the caloric intake of healthy adults eating a standard mixed diet,[3] but your actual number will depend on several factors, which include your lean body mass and the size and composition of your meal. The energy required to digest each macronutrient (its TEF) can be expressed as a percentage of the energy provided by this macronutrient:[4]

  • Fat provides 9 food calories per gram, and its TEF is 0–3%.

  • Carbohydrate provides 4 food calories per gram, and its TEF is 5–10%.

  • Protein provides 4 food calories per gram, and its TEF is 20–30%.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect thermic effect of food.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on the thermic effect of food
grade-d Minor - See study
Ginger has been found to increase the thermic effect of coingested food products
grade-d - - See study
Insufficient evidence to support alterations in the thermic effect of food compared to other oils

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Thermic Effect of Food

Do you need to eat six times a day to keep your metabolism high?
Eating food six times a day, or very high meal frequency, does not seem to increase the overall metabolic rate more than simply eating three times a day. If such a meal frequency can help you feel better on a diet then it can be useful but it alone won't cause weight loss or prevent weight gain.

Things to Note

Also Known As

TEF

Click here to see all 38 references.