Good evening everyone, welcome to blog post Monday!
Keeping with the same popular topic of fat loss, todays topic is how eating MORE food can help you to lose weight.
First, we’re going to start with our favorite macronutrient and the biggest trend since carb free diets were a thing, PROTEIN. You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen it on every package everywhere, todays marketing appears to target the consumer looking to “get fit” by adding the word protein followed by the number of grams of protein in said product. The downside here is that it is just that, marketing. Before you dive in to that “high protein” snack bar, take a look at the other macronutrients. Many “protein bars” you see in the grocery stores contain just 10g of protein, which to start is hardly anything and secondly the next highest macronutrient is commonly sugar. So what you’ve just purchased is a chocolate bar with some protein in it. It goes without saying that eating whole, nutritious foods for your protein source is a far healthier option.
But why protein for fat loss?
Well, have you ever heard of the term “thermic effect of food” or TEF. TEF is defined as the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal.(1) TEF is responsible for approximately 10% of all caloric intake of health adults who eat a standard mixed-macronutrient diet. (2) However, it is not as simple as this. Other factors that effect the total TEF for you are; age, meal timing and macronutrient composition of each meal. So how does this look with the 3 macronutrients:
Fat - provides 9 calories per gram and it’s TEF is 0-5%
Carbohydrate - provides 4 calories per gram and it’s TEF is 5-10%
Protein - provides 4 calories per gram and it’s TEF is 20-30%
What is metabolic rate you ask? Metabolic rate is the overall rate of tissue oxidation of fuels by all the body’s organs. RMR or resting metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy used while the body is at rest. For example, if you were lying down all day and did absolutely nothing, your RMR is your bodies total expenditure for the day. TEF is related to this as it refers to the increase in RMR after you have consumed food and accounts for that 10% we discussed earlier.
How can we optimize our TEF to our benefit?
You’ve all heard you have to eat more meals through the day to “speed up” your metabolism right? Well, unfortunately that just isn’t true. Interestingly enough, consuming a single giant meal will actually produce a greater thermic effect, however, before you go and consume 3000 calories in one meal, you should know there is no significant difference in doing this versus consuming those 3000 calories over smaller meals.
Some fairly recent studies looking in to meal timing and a comparison in morning versus evening eating discovered that TEF may be lower for meals consumed in the evening compared with a morning or afternoon meal. (3, 4)
One study measuring the metabolic response of the volunteers following consumption of a standardized meal at 8am or 8pm found that TEF values after the morning meal were 328 kcal versus the evening meal at 237 kcal. Other previous research concluded a similar results of approximately a 31% decrease in TEF following the evening meal when compared to the morning meal TEF. (5)
As we previously discussed, protein has the highest thermic effect, therefore it is safe to assume that meals higher in protein will yield a greater TEF compared with those meals with less protein.(6)
Of course you’re thinking, well what if I just want a high fat meal or high carbohydrate right?! Well, research points to the higher carb meal producing the greatest TEF when compared to high fat. However, these outcomes can change depending on the other foods consumed. For example meals containing higher fiber foods can also increase TEF.(7) The opposite of this being highly refined or processed foods produce a lower TEF.(8)
A study in 1991 researching the relationship of age and physical exercise status on metabolic rate discovered that physical exercise, regardless of the or body composition, can increase TEF.(9)
So, how to conclude… well, start eating more protein in each meal. This is a common discussion between myself and my clients. The response I get -
"It’s really hard to get that much protein in”
But it is really simple, if large portions of protein don’t work for you, break it down in to small meals. If you struggle to find ways to incorporate protein in smaller meals, try larger meals. I encourage you to try and aim for 50g of protein per meal minimum.
Please, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions!
Reed GW, Hill JO. Measuring the thermic effect of food. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Feb;63(2):164-9. Doe: 10.1093/ajcn/63.2.164.PMID: 8561055
De Jonge L, Bray GA. The Thermic effect of food and obesity: a critical review. Obes Res. (1997)
Christopher J Morris, et al. The Human Circadian System Has a Dominating Role in Causing the Morning/Evening Difference in Diet-Induced Thermogenesis. Obesity (Silver Spring). (2015)
S Bo, et al. Is the timing of caloric intake associated with variation in diet-induced thermogenesis and in the metabolic pattern? A randomized cross-over study. Int J Obes (Lond). (2015)
M Romon, et al. Circadian variation of diet-induced thermogenesis. Am J Clin Nutr. (1993)
a b Anne Raben, et al. Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. (2003)
Neal D Barnard, et al. The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Am J Med. (2005)
G Gobbels, G Plomteux. Adaptation on the ABA-100 of the optimized method of measurement of serum aspartate aminotransferase activity. Ann Biol Clin (Paris). (1977)
E T Poehlman, C L Melby, S F Badylak. Relation of age and physical exercise status on metabolic rate in younger and older healthy men. J Gerontol. (1991)