How TEF can boost weight loss

Seafood has a high thermic effect says Coach Joseph Webb

You already know that calories have a big impact on fat loss. But what about your choice of foods?

Certain foods can actually help you lose more weight. Here’s a handy list (and a breakdown of the science).

What Is “Thermic Effect Of Food”?

Thermic effect of food (TEF) refers to the amount of energy your body uses digesting and absorbing the food.

Fats have low TEF, using the equivalent of around 3% of their calories to be digested.

Carbohydrates have a slightly higher TEF (5-10% of their caloric load).

Protein has the highest TEF of all three macronutrients – up to 30% of calories will be used. (1) Yet one more reason to eat sufficient lean protein in your diet!

TEF shows us that certain foods don’t “burn fat” directly.

But they can influence how much energy your body uses, and thereby influence your metabolic rate. Which in turn can help you lose more weight.

3 Ways These Foods Can Help Weight Loss

High TEF Help with feeling fuller - Coach Joseph Webb


1.) Fullness:

Lean protein foods, or foods high in fibre and water, will make you feel fuller so you are less likely to snack between meals

2.) Thermogenesis:

Some foods boost thermogenesis as they are digested, which in turn raises your metabolism helping you burn extra calories

3.) Appetite Control:

Certain foods can dampen your appetite, which is handy if you know you’re prone to snacking between meals or going back for extras!

Extra Factors That Influence TEF

what foods are best for tea? Coach Joseph Webb

Here’s where thermic effect of food gets more complex.

It’s not just about the food you eat – it’s also about you and your body.

Your age – as you get older, your digestive efficiency is likely to change, and this can decrease TEF

Portion size – the more food you eat, the higher the TEF of that food (but of course you will also have eaten more calories)

Meal composition – remember that protein has the highest TEF, so a meal of protein and fibre-rich vegetables or carbohydrates will have the biggest influence on TEF 

Top 8 TEF Foods

Chilli's help raise TEF says Coach Joseph Webb
‘Peppers contain capsaicin which helps with increasing TEF’

1.) Lean Protein (Meat, Fish) 

Protein has the highest TEF of all macronutrients, and lean animal protein has the least amount of fat or carbohydrate.

Lean protein is also great for helping to retain muscle tissue, which contributes to keeping your metabolic rate high. Foods in this category include chicken, turkey, pork, lean red meat and game meat, white fish, seafood. (2) 

2.) Eggs

Eggs contain around 6g protein with very little fat and zero carbs. A great choice for a fat loss diet.

3.) Fish And Seafood

Fatty fish like salmon and trout is a good source of omega 3 fats which are useful for weight loss because they reduce inflammation.

These foods are high in protein which means a high rate of TEF despite the fat content.

4.) Low Fat Dairy

Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese are high in protein and very filling, with a high TEF.

5.) Pulses

Lentils, beans, and legumes are a good source of non-animal protein but they do come with a reasonable amount of carbohydrate.

However, they are almost zero fat, and the carbs are high in fibre. All of this means pulses are a good high TEF food option with a huge number of health benefits.

6.) Chillis And Chilli Flakes

The active compound in chilli peppers is capsaicin, which is known to increase metabolic rate very quickly.

Studies also show that capsaicin can reduce appetite and increase fat oxidation. (3) 

7.) Herbs And Spices

Most herbs and spices have health benefits that relate to weight loss, including reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and boosting metabolic rate.

Some of the best for this purpose are black pepper (with its active compound piperine) and turmeric which interacts with adipocytes (fat cells). 

8.) Vegetables

All vegetables are great for boosting weight loss, because they are so high in fibre and relatively low in calories.

Choose to fill up on vegetables with high water content like cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery.

You really can’t go wrong with veggies!

A Final Word On TEF Foods

Vegetables have a high thermic effect - Coach Joseph Webb.

Thermic effect of food isn’t a magic wand for weight loss.

Eating these foods won’t automatically burn more body fat from your physique, and you can certainly put yourself in a calorie excess by overeating on these foods.

But if you combine this knowledge with an appropriate calorie intake plus physical activity, TEF can make a difference!

Please share this blog if it helped you on your journey,

Coach Joseph Webb.

‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’

References from today’s blog:





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