Are there really miracle foods that are negative in calories? In theory, yes. In reality, it's a bit more complicated.
What Are Negative Calorie Foods?
These are foods, typically produce high in water content, that supposedly burn more calories during the digestion process than they actually contain. Think watermelon, celery, cucumbers, most lettuces, all of the foods pictured below:
Meridan Zerner, a registered dietician with the Cooper Clinic who has more than 25 years of experience health and fitness, including a Master of Science in nutritional science.
"You could burn more calories in the digestive process than the food itself contains but it doesn’t ever work out that way if you look at how the human body works and operates."
Sure you burn calories digesting food but not generally enough to negate the calories you consume, even in a low-calorie food. (Tweet this)
"Not everybody burns (calories) at the same rate. So you may get a 10% burn rate for digestion for the entire day. Say you take in 1500 calories and get only 150 worth of burn. That would be very easy to eat through," Zerner tells me.
Think about it. There are roughly six calories in a celery stalk. You might burn five or six calories digesting celery but not enough to have an impact on weight loss. You would make up for those extra calories you burn, simply eating a breath mint.
"There’s no scientific evidence that these foods have this negative effect," Zerner says.
In fact if your diet was comprised of solely these negative calorie foods, you wouldn't be doing yourself many diet favors.
"There is not enough quality carbohydrate energy that we need for brain, nervous system and muscle function," Zerner warns.
"You need some healthy fats. You need to dip that piece of celery into some hummus or that endive leaf into some guacamole because your body really needs that healthy fat, some fiber, carbohydrates and lean protein as a package to feel full, remain full and get that sense of satiety."
The Bright Side
These "negative calorie" foods are all great for you and are part of a quality diet. They're just one aspect of balanced diet, though.
"I like all the foods on the list. They have high water content, great fiber content and overall good nutritional impact," Zerner recommends. Click HERE to learn more about foods with high water content.
"They’re all healthy foods but I don’t think you’re gonna get a lot of impact if you’re really focusing your energy and concentration on eating foods off this negative calorie food list."
Think of them as one weapon in your weight loss and maintenance arsenal.
Zerner told me that between 60-70% of Americans are trying to make a health change. Are you one of them? There is so much diet misinformation out there that it can be enough to make you want to give up.
Don't. Get The Real Skinny, my weekly newsletter full of diet and fitness tips designed for the real world, not crazy-diet-land. When you sign up, I'll send you my ebook, "The 10 Easiest Diet Tips: Simple Secrets To Help You Lose Weight & Maintain Your Weight Loss For Good".
I'm a former fat girl, fighting the good fight against fat with you. Want to see me during the orca phase? Check out this picture.