Thermic Effect - The Calorific Cost of Processing Food


I was listening to a nutrition podcast and the thermic effect of food was mentioned. For those who do not know what that is, it’s basically the calorific cost of a food to be processed by the body. Indicative rates are as follows:

Protein: 20%
Alcohol: 15%
Carbos: 5%
Fat: 0%

This means… that if you intake 1000 calories of carbs and 1000 calories of protein… you’re only getting 995 calories and 800 calories available for your BMR & physical activities.

This is important for those who are being strict in their calorific intake / weight loss and bodybuilding.

Was this issue kept in mind in the commercial version of Soylent?


If you wanted to be that strict then the commercial soylent is not for you. DIY soylent is the better option. If you’re calorie counting and adjusting your weight in a controlled way then you need to consider your own body, activity levels, and goals to arrive at the right number of calories.

Useful info though, I was aware of the effect but hadn’t thought to add it to my model. Do you have a link to the source?


The source is a podcast on Itunes called “Energy from Food and Macronutrients” by Dr. Regina Belski, from the La Trobe University. It’s a lecture on a course called Principles of Nutrition.


Her lectures are based on a book called “Understanding Nutrition” written by Whitney and Rolfes. I plan to get this book and read through it.


Great! I’d been wondering about this for awhile.
Are you sure that the normal concept of 4kcal per g of protein or carb and 9kcal per g of fat don’t already account for this though?


As far as I’m aware, the only basis for the 4kcal/9kcal thing is that that’s the energy they release when they’re literally burnt. I think the thermic effect is meant to compensate for the fact that the current numbers don’t actually reference any biology at all.