This concept came across to me when I was explaining the important correlation of eating and fat burning at a seminar I was giving.

This very important concept is based on the fact that food, not just all types of food, can help your body burn fat!  But this sounds way too good to be true and people tend to be hesitant when I say that because they have been told all their lives that eating is what makes you fat.

Eating indeed can make you fat but it also can make you lose fat!  This can be confusing if you don’t understand the thermic effect of food (TEF).

In a nut shell, TEF basically means how much work your body has to exert in order to break down, digest and absorb food.  The word thermic is used because the way to gauge how much work the body needs to break down food is the amount of heat it generates digesting!  More work, more heat! This is used for measuring purposes, so don’t worry if you’re still confused.  The take home message here is that it takes work for your body to break down food and so if your body is working, your body is burning calories!

Some foods are more thermic than others which means that your body burns more calories during digestion with certain foods.

So if food burns calories, can food burn fat?  The answer is “yes”!  And I love to see the look on people’s faces when they hear that for the first time!  That’s why I use the terminology “the internal workout” to help them better understand this process and to take advantage of eating instead of depriving themselves of food.

Normally TEF is responsible for about 10% of the total calories your body burns in a day.  This is not a theory – this is a scientific fact!  That’s a lot of calories when you add it all up.

I believe from my own experience and from all my clients that those 10% of calories can be increased if the right combination of thermic meals are eaten more and more often.

I’m very used to people being skeptical when I tell them this for the first time that more food, more frequently, can help them burn fat.  But people who have been through my programs know it all too well and are very happy with the results and the fact that food is not their enemy; to the contrary, it will help them speed up their metabolism and lose body fat.

Classic examples of thermic foods are found in the lower glycemic index such as 100% whole wheat bread or pasta compared to the higher glycemic index  like refined white bread or rice.  White rice is not as thermic as brown rice.  It is white because it has been refined which means that the hulls or fibers (outer bran) that once were attached to the rice have been artificially removed.  When that happens, your body has no need to work on breaking it down and absorption is almost immediate keeping your body from benefiting from “the internal workout”.

Protein sources like chicken breast, seafood etc. are very thermic as well as fibrous carbohydrates like broccoli or green beans.  When these are combined with the right type of starches, they make a very nutritious and filling meal as well as giving you a great “internal workout”.


This article has been contributed
by Rod Cortizo, owner of the
Rod Squad in Boca Raton.

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