Negative calorie food: here is all you need to know

21 June 2019

Food

Have you seen or heard about the debate of negative calorie foods and wondered ‘what are negative calorie foods’ or even ‘do negative calorie foods exist’? Both of these questions are up for debate, and there is a lot of information out there that fuels myths about real negative calorie foods and what they can do for your body. So let’s start out with what a calorie is.

What is a calorie?

A calorie refers to the amount of energy a food provides. Not every calorie that you consume is burned the same once in your body, as not every food has the same caloric count and processes the same.

Now we have heard about low or even zero-calorie foods, but what about negative calorie foods?

What are negative calorie foods?

Negative calorie foods are said to not lead to any weight gain, regardless of how many of them you eat. This is because the energy that it takes to digest and process these foods requires more calories than is in the food to start with. So essentially, the consumption of negative calorie foods cancels out their original caloric count. These negative calorie foods are typically fruits and vegetables, are nutritious, and have high water content as well as fiber content.

Now we know what it means to be a ‘negative calorie’ food’, what are the foods that are considered ‘negative calorie’?

Negative calorie foods list

  • Apples (USDA) – 50 calories per 100 grams – High in dietary fiber, especially with skin on apple left on
  • Berries (USDA)  – 32 calories per ½ cup
  • Broccoli (USDA) – 34 calories per 100 grams – High in dietary fiber
  • Carrots (USDA) – 50 calories per 1 cup
  • Celery (USDA) – 16 calories per 100 grams
  • Cucumbers (USDA) – 16 calories per 100 grams
  • Grapefruit (USDA) – 40 calories per 100 grams – High in vitamins
  • Lettuce (USDA) – 6 calories per 100 grams oz
  • Watermelon (USDA) – 92 calories per 2 cups
  • Zucchini – 18 calories per 100 grams

Some people even think that chicken should be a part of the negative calorie foods list.

With your resting metabolic rate at what it is, if you ingest these negative calorie foods, you burn calories just by ingesting them and your new metabolic rate can increase. If you consume some of these foods every single day, the little changes to your system and the consumption of these healthy foods can have a major impact on your health journey.

The argument

Now, many registered dietitians (RDs) and nutritionists say that no food actually subtracts calories from what you have already put in your body.

‘Negative calorie foods’ is a part of a dieting trend to be aware of. They claim to work and help you lose weight, and the appeal of them is strong.

In theory, these calories are basically free calories.

On the bright side, regardless of the negative calorie foods debate, these are all nourishing foods that are wonderful additions to your daily diet. So even if you could eat specific foods and lose weight purely by how they metabolize in your body, wouldn’t it be worth it to consume more of these nourishing foods anyways?

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