So you’ve bought your choice of protein sources, and you have them all bulk cooked, neatly stowed away in your Tupperware’s.

It seems that the World is at peace. Things are going to be okay, now that you have your meals prepped.

You have all of your macronutrients, your carbohydrates, fats, and proteins broken down into five square meals a day.

You have everything figured out, don’t you?

So you count out to yourself, twenty grams of protein, thirty grams of carbohydrates, and fifteen grams of fat per meal.

That will do, my friend, that will do…

What if I told you that those numbers are inaccurate?

What if I told you that even though you are measuring out twenty grams of protein you are only getting an average of fifteen grams out of it, where only seven grams are digestible, and provides the correct amino acid formula to be used by your body?

What if I told you that only twenty seven of the thirty grams of carbohydrates actually count from your meals?

You would probably ask yourself what in the World is happening to my meals? Are they disappearing? Dissolving into thin air while trying to eat them?

Not quite.

This might sound crazy, but you burn calories to break down your food! It’s almost common sense, without it being common knowledge

So what is going on here?

This phenomenon is known as the thermic effect of food.

The thermic effect of food is the caloric cost to extract energy and nutrients from food (digest, absorb, and process chemically).

So does this mean that I am not eating as much as I think I am, and if so, how much more can I eat then?

Well it isn’t quite that simple, but in essence, you are not getting as much out of your food as you think.

So let’s talk about how much we are getting out of our meals, and let’s all pray that the thermic effect of fat is high enough that fat doesn’t count!
Well to be the buzz killer, the thermic effect of fat is only around three percent at highest. That means that if we had 18 calories of fat, we would absorb about 17.5 calories of fat.

However, as we know, it is also the amount of our calories that hurt us, not our macronutrients alone.

So what about the other two macronutrients, protein, and carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates have a thermic effect of 5 to 10 percent, and protein has a thermic effect of 20 to 30 percent.

Clearly, the type of nutrients consumed will influence the thermic effect of food.
Here are some more facts about the thermic effect of food.

Meal composition. Consuming all macronutrients together produces a lower thermic effect than would be produced if protein or carbohydrates are consumed separately.
A high-fiber meal produces a lower thermic effect.

Environmental temperature affects the thermic effect of food. Consuming a meal in a cold environment increases the thermic effect of food.

However, alcohol consumption increases the thermic effect of food but reduces the thermic effect if it is consumed in a cold environment or is cold itself.

The thermic effect of food is higher following intense exercise.
Individuals who are trained athletes have a lower thermic effect of food than untrained athletes.

Obese individuals have a lower thermic effect of food than normal-weight individuals.
A bit complicated isn’t it?

The body is an intricate machine.

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