In this day and age, it has become virtually impossible to cut out processed foods from our diets completely, and that is one of the reasons why the human race is suffering from obesity and other weight problems worse than ever before. This has led to an almost global quest for people trying to manage their lifestyles and looking for effective methods to manage their weight issues. They say that weight loss can be attributed 80% on what you eat, and only 20% on exercise. But that generalization misses a few very important factors that also contribute to your overall weight.
One important factor that contributes to weight loss is our body’s metabolism. Metabolism is governed by, among other things, how your body spends energy to digest food. Different foods are digested and metabolized at different rates and require different spends of energy to digest. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF), or diet induced thermogenesis (DIT), or specific dynamic action (SDA).
In simple terms, it is how some of the energy we gain from the food we eat is consumed in the process of digesting, metabolizing, and absorbing said food. Foods with high thermic effect need more calories to be burned to digest and process, while low thermic effect foods require less. This is why many people who want to lose weight switch to a diet of high thermic foods to burn fat quickly.
But as mentioned earlier, it is not just about the food. There are other factors that influence a food’s thermic effect. The same portion of food will take different amounts of energy to digest in different people. Some of the factors that influence the thermic effect of food are age, physical activity, meal size, etc.
As we age, our body systems also slow down. Older people exhibit lower TEF than younger people because of decreased digestive functions.
Physical activity requires energy. The more physically fit you are, the higher is the thermic effect of foods. This is because fitness directly correlates to body composition, insulin resistance, and metabolic rates.
Portion Sizes and Meal Compositions
The thermic effect of food is directly affected by the composition of your meal. For instance, people on high protein diets have the highest thermic effect because proteins take the most energy to digest. Similarly larger portion sizes or meals that are bigger, for instance two bowls of chicken salad compared to one chocolate bar, will need more energy expenditure to digest.
A Word of Caution
It is essential that we maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy and balanced diet in order to keep our metabolism regulated. While the inclusion of thermic foods can be beneficial, you cannot boost metabolism just by consuming thermic foods. There are other things you need to do like drinking an adequate amount of water, reducing stress, managing your BMI, getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, and getting some form of exercise regularly. These things are important to boost your metabolism and maintain good health overall.