Is there really such a thing as a Negative Calorie Food? The idea is that some foods take more energy to chew and digest than they actually contain. A Negative Calorie food provides less energy than it burns to digest. So in theory you could eat unlimited quantities of Negative Calorie Foods and still lose weight.
Foods that are crunchy, have few nutrients and contain high amounts of cellulose are thought to be negative calorie foods. Cellulose is a common organic compound found in 33% of all plant life. Cellulose is the main ingredient in cardboard, textiles, cotton and linen. Sound tasty? Don’t worry, many of the negative calorie foods are reasonably tasty.
Primarily the diet of late night infomercials and downloadable e-books the concept that you can lose weight by eating (even if means eating cardboard like foods) is enticing. Millions of dollars have been spent by consumers eager to lose weight by eating Negative Calorie Foods.
The following are thought to be Negative Calorie Foods:
Before you hit the farmers market for massive quantities of these Negative Calorie Foods, look a little further.
In order to lose one pound, a person must experience a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. You must eat 3,500 calories less than your body burns over a period of time and you will lose one pound. The problem is no one knows exactly how many calories it takes to digest measured amounts of specific foods. We know that a stalk of celery is 6 calories. We know that chewing gum burns about 11 calories an hour. So the act of chewing celery does not burn more than 6 calories unless you chew it for an hour (probably impossible).
Studies do show that about 10-12% of the calories we consume are burned by digestion. 12% of 6 Calories is .5 – half a calorie. So between chewing and digesting, some calories are burned by eating celery, but not enough to justify eating negative calorie foods as a weight loss method.
The good news is that so called Negative Calorie foods are very low in calories in the first place and eating them as a part of your diet should not be a major contributor to weight gain. In fact, if a few stalks of celery or some strawberries fill you up and make you stay out of the potato chip bag they have a far greater value than burning a couple of calories.
Maybe Negative Calorie foods should be called something else – like healthy snacks that won’t make you fat. These so called Negative Calorie foods should be a great addition to your diet, but you still have to eat fewer calories than you consume and burn calories through physical activity.
Typing on a computer burns 102 Calories per hour for the average 150 pound person. In roughly 33 ½ hours, I will lose a pound on the computer typing diet. But if I eat celery while I’m typing…. I’ll still be fat. Nothing is a substitute for an all around healthy diet and regular exercise.