Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 2-The Thermal Effect of Food

Mark Dziuban - Thermal

In part one of this series, we learned how to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, which is how many calories your body burns to provide for all it’s necessary bodily functions. You now know how many calories your body requires before you do anything more than lay in bed all day.

Now that we understand and have calculated your resting metabolic rate, we have a little more work to do. Before we do that, let’s look at the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.

Total Caloric Expenditure = RMR + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure

The Thermal Effect of Food is the total number of calories required to digest your food. Yes, your body burns calories when processing, or digesting the food you eat. Your body burns calories absorbing and distributing those nutrients throughout your body. No, you cannot eat more food to burn more calories and lose weight. While that would be a fun way to lose weight, the fact is our bodies burn far fewer calories digesting the food we eat than the total number of calories contained in that food. We are going to use a very simple method to determine your Thermal Effect of Food. Remember that this figure varies depending on the types of food ingested. Simply calculate 10% of your daily caloric intake. The answer is the approximate number of calories required to digest and process our food. So, using our example 34-year-old female from our previous post, let’s say she consumes 2,300 calories per day. So, multiplying 2,300 calories by 10% or, 2,300 x .10 we determine her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories. Her RMR we previously calculated to be 1,378.13 or let’s around up to 1,380 for easier math. Her Thermal Effect of Food is 230 so we know she currently burns 1,610 calories per day, 1,380 + 230 = 1,610.

We are well on our way to having a good idea how many calories we burn in a single day.

Before we move on any further, let’s talk about the three categories of metabolism. There are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and the Endomorph. Do you have a friend or family member who seemingly can eat anything at any time and never gain a single pound of weight? That lucky person is an Ectomorph, or is better identified as having a very high metabolism. A Mesomorph is one who has a normal metabolism and an Endomorph has a difficult time losing weight. You’ll need to determine which category you fit in to you will need to be honest with yourself. So, when calculating your Total Caloric Expenditure, or TCE, add 500 calories if you are an Ectomorph. If you are a Mesomorph, do nothing and for an Endomorph you will need to deduct 200 calories once you determine your daily caloric intake.

For sake of our example, let’s assume our 34-year-old female is a mesomorph and requires no change once we determine our new daily caloric intake requirements.

In part three of this series, we will talk a little bit about lean body mass, (LBM), and try to help you determine your activity expenditure.

As a side note: For those of you who are considering weight loss supplements: There are many weight loss supplements available in the store or online which have key ingredients that are not scientifically studied. Check on the internet to find if your “miracle product” references any scientific studies on humans-you may be surprised.

Until next time, always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”