Thermic Eating


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Let’s not stop here. I don’t want you to believe “protein is good, fat is bad.” That is the type of misguided thinking that drives people to pursue destructive diets. There are six nutrients, and we need ALL of those nutrients, in the proper balance to maintain health. We NEED protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Of the six nutrients, the first three are the “macronutrients.” That means they’re the nutrients that have calories. A supportive meal, therefore, would contain an adequate protein serving relatively low in fat. We’d call that a lean protein. It would also contain a starchy carbohydrate and a fibrous carbohydrate. Most protein foods contain some fats. We get fats from poultry, fish, and meat, as well as from seeds, nuts, and some vegetables. We are also going to strive to make the most natural food choices possible, making our selections from the perimeter of the supermarket to ensure we take in an ample array of vitamins and minerals.

Some of the recent diet literature has confused people in regard to carbohydrates. For our purposes and for the sake of simplicity, we’ll discuss four types of carbohydrates. Starchy (complex) carbs are “slow-release” carbohydrates that serve as the body’s preferred source of fuel. Fibrous carbs are those vegetables you’d typically put in a salad that when fresh contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, anti-carcinogens, and help to move food through the digestive system efficiently. The starchy carbs and fibrous carbs are vital components of supportive meals.

Simple sugars are, well… simple sugars. While the complex carbs contain glucose (sugar) molecules, those molecules are linked together in chains allowing for the slow release. When you consume a simple sugar (such as the sugar you’d find in a cookie, a donut, a candy bar, or ice cream), that sugar gets rushed into the bloodstream rapidly facilitating a blood sugar spike, a residual insulin spike, and a severe reduction in the body’s ability to burn fat.

The fourth and final category of carbohydrates we’ll discuss are refined carbohydrates. This would include bleached and processed flours. Refined carbohydrates typically start out as good grains, but they are run through a manufacturing process where the nutrient value is radically reduced. The machines involved in processing do the “thermic” work your body would do with the grains, and when they are ultimately turned into some sort of food and ingested, they are easily converted into triglycerides and stored as fat. Complex carbohydrates that have not been refined do bring about a nice thermic boost. For every 100 calories of complex carbohydrate you ingest, your body will burn about 10 in the act of digestion.

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About Tasso Kiriakes

Master of Science in Bio-Organic Chemistry - Personal Training since 1979

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