Are There Negative Calorie Foods?

Are There Negative Calorie Foods?

Fast and easy weight loss has remained one of the most discussed and debated topics of all times. While each one of us is guilty of having tried (and failed in) some diet or other, secretly we have always known that there is no ‘free lunch’. So while some of us have tried to make lasting changes to our lifestyles, others have just resigned to being overweight. But just when we think all is lost, hope comes along in the form of `Negative Calorie’ foods that are said to miraculously burn calories instead of adding them. This means that one can literally eat one’s way to weight loss!

What Are Negative Calories?

Before we find out what these miracle foods are, it is important to understand how they work. Negative calorie foods are essentially foods that cause the body to burn more calories in digesting them than the total calorific value that they provide nutritionally. It is important to understand that it is not the inherent calorific value of these foods which is low but the digestible calorific value. In other words, negative calorie foods are indigestibles whose latent energy is not absorbed properly by the body due to its inability to break them down completely. For example, if you eat a chocolate cake which contains 400 calories and requires 100 calories to be digested, you have in effect added 300 calories to your calorie meter. On the other hand, if you eat an apple which contains 100 calories but requires 150 to be digested, you have actually burnt 50 extra calories. Hence, the very apt name ‘negative calories’.

So where does one find these miracle foods and at what cost? The good news is that almost all raw fruits and vegetables (partial list given below) commonly available are listed as a part of a near negative calorie diet though `celery’ remains the poster child of this food group.

Fruits: Apples, Watermelon, Oranges, Mango, Peaches, Grapefruit, Cranberry, Cantaloupe, Honey Dew Melons, Raspberry…

Vegetables: Turnips, Carrots, Radishes, Lettuce, Green beans, Beets, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Lettuce, Garlic….

Negative Calorie Diets – Myth Or Reality?

But can these miracle foods can actually be the basis of a sustained weight loss program – unfortunately, the jury is still undecided on this one. Some experts have found the inclusion of fruits in the list particularly perplexing given their high fructose content. Take the case of the watermelon – With more than 15 gm sugar in a 10 oz serving , it is baffling to understand how this can be a negative calorie food. Others have argued against the very possibility of any food – fruit or vegetable being able to burn more calories than it gives, all the “digestibility” arguments notwithstanding.

Dangers Of A `Negative Calorie’ Diet

People who have studied the effect of these diets argue that cutting back on `positive’ calorie foods and relying instead on these foods exclusively can actually cause malnutrition and other complications in the long run. But done for a day or two, under supervision, this becomes a form of detoxification and can actually help increase energy levels and one’s general feeling of well being. The key lies in moderation.

To sum up, while these foods may or may not be `negative’ in calories, they are healthy and definitely much lower in calorific intake than many other choices that we make daily. What appears to be safe therefore is to increase the proportion of these foods in one’s diet in comparison to other proven `positive calorie’ foods like French fries. Also almost all these foods are high in fiber and rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals so there appears to be little harm in loading up on them. But to believe that these alone will melt the inches away is so far just wishful thinking. The only guaranteed way to weight loss remains exercise combined with a sensible diet intake which covers all essential food groups.


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