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1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds
By Bentz Tozer, Jr., B.S., CPT
When you eat, your body burns calories to chew, digest and process the nutrients in the food. You actually burn calories by consuming calories. This metabolic process is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). The official dictionary definition is “the amount of energy used in digestion, absorption and distribution of nutrients.”
TEF is influenced by several factors. One factor is the type of food; some foods have a higher thermic effect. Lean proteins, such as chicken breast or fish, have a high thermic effect – 30 percent, which means that nearly a third of the calories in these foods are burned off just in digesting them. For example, if you eat 100 calories of chicken breast, 30 of those calories are burned, leaving a net caloric value of 70 calories for your body to absorb and utilize. Simple carbohydrates, like vegetables and fruits, have a thermic effect of about 20 percent. This is especially helpful if you are trying to lose weight as vegetables and fruits are fairly low in calories to begin with. Since 20 percent of the total calories are burned in digestion, there are fewer calories that can be converted into body fat.
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