Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Increased Energy/Reduced Digestion

  • Mariya VoytyukEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2952-1



The role of cooking in increasing energy uptake from the diet as well as reducing the body’s costs of digestion.


Cooking food is a unique human activity spanning across all cultures, and humans appear to be evolutionarily adapted to this crucial aspect of their diet (Wrangham and Conklin-Brittain 2003). The value of cooking lies in its ability to widen the range of foods that are safe to eat (whether by making their digestion easier or neutralizing toxic compounds) as well as extract more energy from the foods ingested. Both human and animal studies illustrate that the more cooked food there is in a diet, the greater the net energy gain for the eater (Carmody and Wrangham 2009), and a diet of raw foods is energetically inadequate even when various nonthermal processing methods are employed (Koebnick et al. 1999). The effect of cooking on the energy gain from eating includes several mechanisms: increasing digestibility and thus caloric...


Maillard Reaction Lipid Digestibility Metabolic Expenditure Meat Diet Early Hominins 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Boback, S. M., Cox, C. L., Ott, B. D., Carmody, R., Wrangham, R. W., & Secor, S. M. (2007). Cooking and grinding reduces the cost of meat digestion. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 148(3), 651–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carmody, R. N., & Wrangham, R. W. (2009). Cooking and the human commitment to a high-quality diet. Cold Spring Harbor Symp Quant Biol, 74, 427–434.Google Scholar
  3. Carmody, R. N., Weintraub, G. S., & Wrangham, R. W. (2011). Energetic consequences of thermal and nonthermal food processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(48), 19199–19203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cornélio, A. M., de Bittencourt-Navarrete, R. E., de Bittencourt Brum, R., Queiroz, C. M., & Costa, M. R. (2016). Human brain expansion during evolution is independent of fire control and cooking. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 167.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Groopman, E. E., Carmody, R. N., & Wrangham, R. W. (2015). Cooking increases net energy gain from a lipid-rich food. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 156(1), 11–18.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Koebnick, C., Strassner, C., Hoffmann, I., & Leitzmann, C. (1999). Consequences of a long-term raw food diet on body weight and menstruation: Results of a questionnaire survey. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 43(2), 69–79.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Smith, A. R., Carmody, R. N., Dutton, R. J., & Wrangham, R. W. (2015). The significance of cooking for early hominin scavenging. Journal of Human Evolution, 84, 62–70.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Svihus, B., Uhlen, A. K., & Harstad, O. M. (2005). Effect of starch granule structure, associated components and processing on nutritive value of cereal starch: A review. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 122(3), 303–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Westerterp, K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Wobber, V., Hare, B., & Wrangham, R. (2008). Great apes prefer cooked food. Journal of Human Evolution, 55(2), 340–348.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Wrangham, R., & Conklin-Brittain, N. (2003). Cooking as a biological trait. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 136(1), 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA