Calculating the Energy-Cost of Food Part 2 - Examples of How Diet Manipulations That Cause Weight-Loss
by Dr. Matthew Chircop
Let’s say that you’re an average Australian, and you consume about 60g of added sugar per day (as per 2011-2012 Australian Health Survey). That is 35g more added sugar than the current maximum recommended daily amount. Much of that is probably consumed in soft drink (but it can be added to almost any food – check the label for added sugar under the list of ingredients if you’re concerned). Simply cutting out 35 g of added sugar per day can reduce your calorie intake by 140 calories, and only has a reduction of TEF of about 6 calories. Thus the effective reduction in total daily energy intake is 134 calories (or 140 – 6 calories).
According to 1998 ABS data, the average Australian male consumes 85g of fat per day, and the average Australian female consumes 60g of fat per day, much of which is added to foods which are bought for consumption out of the home. I suspect that more up to date figures are bound to be less encouraging, but let’s use this as a starting point. If the males could reduce their fat intake to 50g per day, and the females to 40 g per day, then that would result in a reduction of total daily energy intake of 315 and 180 calories respectively, with a reduction in TEF of 13 and 7 calories respectively. The effective reduction in total daily energy intake is 302 (315-13) and 173 (180-7) calories respectively. This could be accomplished simply by reducing consumption of pre-prepared and packaged food, and simply making one’s own meals from whole food ingredients.
Just making those relatively simple changes to your diet, without thinking too hard about macronutrient ratios, has generated effective calorie deficits of 436 and 207 calories for men and women respectively.
You could also swap some of your dietary carbohydrate for protein. E.g. simply keeping the calorie intake the same, but swapping 30g of refined carbohydrate for protein can increase TEF by as much as 30 calories per day. However, what is likely to occur in the real world is that eating more protein will increase satiety, so that meal size and frequency can be reduced without causing significant discomfort, and your overall calorie intake will tend to decrease. Another way to achieve a similar effect is to increase your fibre intake by increasing your intake of carbohydrate sourced from whole grains, brown rice, beans, leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables and wholemeal pasta, as opposed to white bread, white rice and standard pasta.
If the average person also decided to reduce their calorie intake another 100-200 calories per day, effectively generating an additional calorie deficit 90 and 180 calories per day, this could equate to calorie deficits of anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per day, which could cause a weight loss of half a kg per week.
You can go a ways further by including physical activity after meals, which can effectively double your TEF, apart from other positive effects. Doubling the TEF would effectively generate an additional calorie deficit of at least 120-150 calories per day (for females and males respectively). That brings our total effective calorie deficits up to 400 calories per day for females and 750 calories per day for males.
Thus, manipulation of total and relative macronutrient intake (by adjusting diet composition) is able to generate significant effective calorie deficits, and therefore generate a significant rate of reduction of weight.
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