Negative Calorie Foods – Do They Exist?

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • We have all heard of foods that are labeled as negative, meaning they can be eaten in unlimited quantities and actually help us lose weight. However, without understanding the science behind it, the idea of negative calorie foods might seem a bit too good to be true.

     

    So what does “negative calorie” mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that the food itself does not contain calories. What it means is that the energy it takes within your body to process, digest and dispose of the food expends more calories then the amount contained in the food itself. The enzymes that these vitamin and mineral rich foods produce can thus burn the calories within the food quickly as well as additional calories within the digestive tract. The belief is that this creates a highly effective fat burning strategy that is natural and nutritious too!

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    It’s important to note that so called “empty calorie” foods such as junk food and zero calorie snacks and beverages do not have the same effect. In order for the body to properly digest these foods, the body must rob existing vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium from its storage banks, depleting nutrients rather than providing them. These calories do nothing for the metabolism or body’s efficiency in burning fat or maintaining good health.

     

    Another interesting commonality amongst negative calorie foods is that they tend to have high water content. We’ve all heard that drinking water can help with appetite control by triggering the brain’s full sensation early on. For those wanting to lose weight, drinking a full glass of water an hour prior to a meal (to not dilute stomach acids necessary for proper digestion) can “fill” the stomach while also decreasing dehydration, another contributor to hunger cravings. Drinking enough water and consuming water content vegetables (which again are filling due to the water content while also being extremely low in calories) can thus adequately aid in the body’s ability to lose weight without mental food restriction. In theory it would be almost impossible to eat too many of these foods and gain weight, another reason why I feel consuming a large percentage of raw foods on a regular basis is a very healthy approach to weight management.

     

    Even though the information presented above makes logic sense for losing weight due to the water content and negative calorie effect, unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research out there to back it up. For me, it’s always important to self-test through your own personal experience as each of us are different making no one method effective for all. However, I did come across an interesting study by Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D. conducted out of the University of California in San Francisco. He gave a control group a vegetarian diet without limiting calories or adding on any special exercise program. The study resulted in an average weight loss of 20 pounds per member, clearly indicating the benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

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    So, which foods fall into the negative calorie classification? Apparently there are 100+ foods that fall into this category. However, some of the more common ones include the following fruits and vegetables:

     

    Vegetables

    Asparagus

    Beet Root

    Broccoli

    Cabbage

    Carrot

    Cauliflower

    Celery

    Chicory

    Hot Chili

    Cucumber

    Garden cress

    Garlic

    Green Beans

    Lettuce

    Onion

    Radish

    Spinach

    Turnip

    Zucchini

     

    Fruits

    Blueberries

    Cantaloupe

    Cranberry

    Grapefruit

    Honeydew

    Lemon/Lime

    Mango

    Orange

    Papaya

    Peach

    Pineapple

    Raspberry

    Strawberry

    Tomato

    Tangerine

    Turnip

    Watermelon

     

    I think at this point it’s worth mentioning that in my opinion as well as many other experts, vegetable and fruit juices are a great way to consume a high quantity of these foods not only to aid in weight loss but also healing, detoxification and optimal nutrition. I have also found that making huge hearty salads the foundation of my own personal diet has done wonders for my energy, weight and overall health. I have also noticed a dramatic change in my appetite and satisfaction throughout the day since I began increasing my fruit and vegetable content. Experiment and see what works for you.

Published On: January 28, 2011