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What Are Negative Calorie Foods?

The internet abounds with lists that consist of negative calories foods. The concept of negative calories foods is that you burn more calories digesting and metabolizing certain foods then they actually contain themselves. For people who are on a diet or attempting to lose weight, the idea of negative calorie foods is certainly appealing. Who wouldn’t want a list of foods that reverse the laws of thermodynamics?

The types of foods that are often credited as negative calorie foods are as follows: celery, apples, grapefruit, broccoli, cabbages, radishes, cucumbers and asparagus. There are also cases where cold foods, such as cold water, are considered to be negative calorie foods because your body burns extra calories attempting to warm them up.

Yet, negative calorie foods are seemingly the bigfoot of the world of dieting – some people insist there is no such thing while others swear by them. In order to decide whether these “miracle” foods are fact or fiction, it is important to get a better idea of where this concept comes from and if there has been any research to prove its validity.

The Background of Negative Calorie Foods

Anything that you eat contains calories. Food supplies the calories that you need in order to keep your lungs breathing, your heart beating and all other body systems functioning. When it comes to negative calories foods, it is only inside of your body that the “negative” calorie effect comes into play. A negative calorie food simply takes more energy (measured in calories) to digest than are actually in the food itself.

The Negative Calorie Diet

The idea that some foods burn more calories than they contain is a concept that was immediately applied to the world of weight loss. The fact that negative calorie foods allow you to eat as much as you want sounds exciting to most but in reality, they are fairly impractical. There are only some foods that are considered to have negative calories and the list is fairly limited. Additionally, there are only certain ways to prepare them, especially without adding extra calories. Enhancing their flavor with spices and oils adds unnecessary calories which defeats the purpose. Also, steaming and boiling may make them easier to digest, but this can cancel out the negative calorie effect.

There is also the fact that you need to burn 3500 calories in order to lose a single pound of fat. A cup of raw broccoli contains 30 calories and typically takes around 80 calories to digest. This means that by eating a cup of broccoli, you will burn around 50 calories. The catch is that you would have to eat 70 cups of broccoli in order to lose a pound.

It is important to keep in mind that the amount of energy required to digest foods varies among individuals. The rate of calories burned due to the consumption of food is much lower in overweight and obese people. The composition of the food is another factor in the amount of calories burned as well. Protein and foods full of fiber are the hardest to digest and will burn the most calories while carbohydrates and fats burn little to none. Meals with a mixture of nutrients require the most calories to digest.

The Real Value Negative Calorie Foods

There are complete weight loss plans that have been marketed around the concept of negative calories foods. A simple search of the internet will yield many diet plans that incorporate these foods. There have not been any recent studies to prove if these foods in fact have negative calories but the idea makes sense to a lot of people and they have in fact seen benefits from it. The real value of these foods when consumed during a diet is not their negative calorie status, it is their low-calorie status.

About Clara Valdez

Clara is a dietitian, nutritionist and professional speaker specializing in prevention and performance. She believes that a healthy life is synonymous consuming nutritious food.

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