When it comes to setting up your weight loss or muscle building diet and figuring out how many meals you should eat per day, take into consideration the amount of overall calories you should consume. TEF (the Thermic Effect of Food) is the process by which the body burns calories through digesting food.
Every time you eat, your body burns calories in breaking down and digesting what you’re eating. Therefore, the notion started that the more often you ate, the more frequently TEF would rise, and the more calories you’d burn.
Higher calorie burn = faster fat loss.
Makes sense, right? So why is it wrong?
It’s All Relative
TEF has little to do with how often you eat, as it’s relative to the calorie content of a meal.
If you say the TEF or calorie burn of each meal you eat is 10%. (This is probably relatively accurate, as the TEF of protein is 25-30%, while the TEF of carbohydrate and fat is 6-8% and 2-3% respectively.)
Every time you eat a meal, you burn 10% of the calories consumed through digestion.
We’ll take someone who has a calorie intake of 2,700 each day.
Here’s how their calorie burn from TEF would look following different meal frequencies –
6 meals of 450 calories each
= 45 calories burned per meal.
45 x 6 = 270 calories burned each day
4 meals of 675 calories each
= 67.5 calories burned per meal.
67.5 x 4 = 270 calories burned each day
2 meals of 1,350 calories each
= 135 calories burned per meal.
135 x 2 = 270 calories burned each day
No matter what meal frequency they follow, their calorie burn from TEF will always be 270. The same applies for whatever calorie intake and meal frequency you choose