The thermic effects of food refers to the heat produced when food is oxidised. This heat effect can be significant and is a contributor to the overall metabolic rate. When food is eaten it is digested and the component parts are absorbed. Some of the food may be stored in fat cells but other components may be oxidised. The ratio between the stored and oxidised component is based on the requirements of the body at the time. The thermic effect of food is very evident if an individual eats little when it is cold. In such circumstances the body temperature can lower significantly leaving the person feeling cold. When food is eaten the food is oxidised and this can often warm the person up. Therefore the oxidation of food is also a protective mechanism against cold and this thermogenesis following eating is how mammals maintain their body temperature in cold environments. Carbohydrate and protein food provide the greatest increase in thermic effects, with fat producing the least effective raise in body temperature.
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