So, can some foods actually contain negative calories?
For a while now people have been suggesting that the effort of digesting some foods burns up more calories, through their thermic effect, than is contained in the foods themselves, and that therefore eating these foods can help us reduce our calorie intake and lose weight.
Unfortunately, when things seem too good to be true, they usually are and this is no exception.
Although it is true that some foods can contain very little calories (celery being the vegetable most often cited as a ‘negative calorie’ or ‘zero calorie’ food) and that we burn more calories eating and digesting some foods compared with others, this effect doesn’t make much of an impact on daily calorie expenditure.
You’d have to eat a ridiculously large amount of these foods for your body to work hard enough to burn a decent amount of calories that it just isn’t practical.
Water and artificially processed zero calorie drinks are the only things truly calorie free, but as their nutritional contact is pretty much zero too they don’t really count here!
Kelly: This article details the benefits of staying well hydrated: Does drinking water help you lose weight?
One of the main problems with the idea of zero or negative calorie foods is that it potentially leads people to think that they can take shortcuts with their diet – unfortunately eating unhealthy food with a side-plate of celery is not going to counteract the effects of the unhealthy food or subtract calories from your overall daily intake.
The human body just doesn’t work like that!
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Low calorie foods
Foods that are widely cited as having negative calories have earned this title because they are pretty darn low in calories and surprise surprise, they’re all fruits and vegetables.
This means they’re all full of vitamins, nutrients, minerals and fiber – all things many of us aren’t getting enough of, so eating more of them can only be a good thing!
A lot of these foods will fill you up in the same way as regular foods, so snacking on them instead will mean your calorie intake is much lower but you feel just as satisfied.
Not as exciting as the idea of eating magically subtracting calories, but true and effective.
Negative Calorie Foods List
So, what foods should you be aiming for? Here’s a list of vegetables often purported to contain zero or negative calories: celery, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, garlic, lettuce, onions, zucchini, spinach, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower, turnip. And some fruit: lemon, grapefruit, mango.
It’s a pretty decent list and gives you plenty of choice, with vegetables that can be eaten raw and others that are usually cooked, and fruit, which can take the place of desert or a sweet snack.
I’m sorry to have been the bearer of bad news, I wish it was as easy to lose weight as just having some celery before bed every night but that is just not the case.
But, increasing your intake of low-calorie foods, as part of meals or as snacks, will help you lower your calorie intake and leave you feeling much healthier due to the added nutrients you’ll be receiving.
Switching over to drinking water from sugary drinks is another simple way of lowering calorie intake.
Good luck, and may the celery be with you.
*This article was written by Amy Corcoran; one of our favorite guest bloggers.