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Losing Weight with the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) Trying to drop some unwanted pounds? You probably already know which foods are fattening, but how about foods actually help you burn fat? Yes, such foods exist, and they are those that pump up your metabolism, making your body burn more energy to digest, absorb, and distribute nutrients to your cells. This process is known as the thermic effect of food, or simply TEF. About 5-10% of your daily energy requirements are reserved for processing the food you ingest. However, take note that not all foods are the same, which means some foods have a higher TEF than others. Fats vs. Generally speaking, proteins take the most energy or calories to digest compared to carbohydrates and fats. Around 30% of the calories contained in lean protein foods are spent just digest them, and that puts proteins at the top spot in terms of TEF. Next to protein are carbohydrates. Carb-rich foods’ thermic effect ranges from 15 to 20% of the calories contained. Fats have a thermic effect of only between 2 and 3%, making them the most easily digested macronutrient among the three. What this means is that whenever you eat fatty foods, your net caloric gain averages from 97 to 98% of the food’s total calories, compared with lean protein’s net caloric gain of about 70%.
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Top-quality Protein
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High-quality protein foods are not only known for their high TEF, but they are also more satiating, making you unlikely to have in-between-meal urge to snack. This is due to protein’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, keeping those sharp, short-lived ups and downs in blood glucose that are linked to hunger pangs. Of course, the key is picking the right proteins to have in your diet. Among your best sources of proteins, if you’re looking for high TEF, are sardines and salmon, which are abundant in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids; lean chicken, beef, turkey, and pork; and tuna. According to studies, tuna has a lowering effect on your blood leptin (a metabolism-slowing hormone) levels. Fiber-rich Carbohydrates Experts recommend increasing high-fiber carbohydrate intake as a way to rev up metabolism. Yams, pasta, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, apples, pears, and cantaloupes are some examples of high-fiber, high-TEF carb foods. Metabolic Stimulants Caffeine and a number of spices have been found to extend and enhance the thermic effects of high-thermic foods. Capsaicin, for example, which is abundant in paprika and chili peppers, boosts your metabolism and production of fat-metabolizing enzymes, as well as decreases your rate of absorbing cholesterol. Caffeine is also known to give your metabolism a quick lift. Weight loss is indeed not all about working out or reducing your food intake. It also requires smart food choices, especially when you are already aware about the thermic effect of food.