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Thermic Effect Of Feeding (TEF)

Thermic Effect Of Feeding (TEF)

Thermic Effect Of Feeding (TEF)

What is the thermic effect of feeding?

The thermic effect of feeding (TEF) is the energy expenditure associated with the digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food. It is also referred to as the "dietary induced thermogenesis" and is usually expressed as a percentage of the total energy content of the meal. TEF typically accounts for about 10% of the total daily energy expenditure in a healthy individual. So for example, if you expend 2000 calories in a day, around 200 of those will be burned just from eating food.


TEF & Protein

  • Protein provides 4 calories per gram. Its TEF is 20-30%

The thermic effect of feeding with protein is the highest of the three macronutrients. This thermogenic effect is typically 20-30%, meaning that 20-30% of the energy from the ingested protein will be used in the digestion and absorption process. This is a reason why a high protein diet can be beneficial if the goal is fat loss. More calories burnt during the digestive & assimilation process, means less net calories!


TEF & Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram. Its TEF is 5-15% 

Carbohydrates are the next most thermic macronutrient, with a TEF of 5-15% depending on the carb source.  Complex will give you sustained energy throughout the day and will have a higher TEF compared to simple, more processed carbohydrates.  Choosing less processed, complex carbohydrates might be a good idea if you are looking to maximize satiety and the TEF of your food!


Fat & TEF

Fat provides 9 calories  per gram. Its TEF is 0-5% 

Dietary fats have the lowest thermic effect at approximately 5-10% and are the simplest to digest. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include fats in your diet – it’s just a case of choosing the right ones. Fats play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, protecting vital organs against shock and helping maintain body temperature. They can also be used as an energy source, and slow down the body’s insulin response to high sugar foods. Good sources of fat to include in your diet are avocado, salmon, nuts, egg yolks and pumpkin seeds.


Why is TEF important?

If you’re looking to lose body fat or build muscle it’s important to understand the thermic effect of protein and other macronutrients and how inside your body. 

When we overeat we’re least likely to store excess calories from protein due to the higher thermic effect, followed by carbohydrates, and lastly dietary fats. This is another reason why protein is incredibly important in weight regulation. Try to hit at least 1.8g of protein per kg of body weight, as part of a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and vegetables to help you reach your goals.

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