The web is full of easy weight loss hacks that are quick and easy to implement. One of the most popular suggestions is to eat “negative-calorie” foods like celery, because you’ll burn more calories when you eat and digest the celery than you take in.
Are you aware that eating certain foods causes us to lose weight rather than gain them? What about these foods? Does it aid in losing weight? We interviewed three experts in physiology and nutrition whether there are foods that have negative calories? This is what we discovered.
What are they and what do they used for?
Louise Dunford, an expert in physiology and nutrition from De Montfort University in the UK she describes the concept that “a calorie is a unit of energy, usually expressed as kilocalories (kcal) for the energy content in food”.
Food packaging typically has labels that tell you how many calories are contained in the food item. We consume calories through eating and burn calories through burning calories.
Dunford states: “Our energy needs are comprised of three parts:
- The energy needed to keep an unmoving body and to provide the energy we require by our body in order to perform its essential functions so that you can be alive.
- The effect of food on the body results in an rise in metabolic rate following eating, as food is absorption and digestion.
- More energy is required for exercise and activity.”
What are foods that are “negative-calorie?
“The theory behind negative calorie foods is that some foods have lower calorie (energy) content than the amount of energy it takes to digest and absorb the food into the body,” Dunford says.
“This sounds plausible, in theory. But in reality, even the lowest calorie foods, such as celery, contain more calories than it takes to break down and absorb them in the body.”
Certain foods that are labeled as having a negative calorie are grapefruit, celery and cucumbers, as well as broccoli, carrots, and lettuce.
What are the proofs that “negative-calorie” foods are actually available?
Three experts claimed the experts could not find none of the evidence that there are foods that have negative calories.
“Even the humble stick of celery, while being about 95 percent water, still contains a small number of kilojoules from carbohydrate (65 kJ to be exact),” claims Tim Crowe, an expert in nutrition at Thinking Nutrition.
“Though there is an energy cost to your body in digesting food, called the thermic effect of food, but that equates to about 10 percent of the energy in the food. So even celery adds some kilojoules to your diet. And while it’s a small number, it’s definitely not a negative number.”
While not a food cold water is classified as calorie-negative. Cornelie Nienaber-Rousseau who is an expert in nutrition at North-West University in South Africa she says: “Water contains no energy and when drinking water outside body temperature ranges will expend some energy to maintain the body’s internal temperature i.e. the so called water-induced thermogenesis effect.”
A number of studies have attempted to determine if this effect can be beneficial to weight loss, however most have found low calorie consumption following having a cold drink.
Chewing gum, although a thing that we would not normally be able to consider food, has been described as “negative-calorie”.
However, the effects are minimal. Nienaber Rousseau states: “Mastication merely burns 11 kcal (46.2 kJ) per hour and can therefore hardly be considered as being real exercise. Because one stick of gum contains around 10 kcal (42.0 kJ), it will require being chewed for one or more hours to burn the energy the gum provides.”
Do these so-called “negative-calorie” foods provide any advantages?
If the fruits of celery, grapefruit, and cucumbers don’t result in weight loss How come they are frequently found in weight loss diets?
“Diets based on so-called negative-calorie food or to use the more acceptable term ‘free foods’ do not work because they cause an energy deficit, but rather because these foods satisfy hunger by filling the stomach with food that is not energy dense and coupled with exercise can lead to burning more fuel than was ingested to create an overall energy deficit,” Nienaber-Rousseau states.
Or or, as Crowe says: “How foods like celery, lettuce and broccoli can help you lose weight is if your mouth is full of celery, then there’s no room to fit in burgers and fries.”
Consuming foods that are considered to be low-calorie could therefore help in weight loss as they can make you feel fuller. However, it’s crucial not to simply add them to your diet.
“It’s important to replace higher calorie items on a plate rather than add these fruit and vegetables to meals, as by simply adding healthy items you increase the overall calorie content. For example, a cheeseburger plus a salad contains more calories than a cheeseburger alone,” Dunford declares.
In fact, it can be a psychological challenge According to Nienaber Rousseau “studies suggest that people underestimate the amount of energy in a meal or food in the event that a healthy food item like a food that is free is available – this phenomenon is known as the ‘negative calorie illusion’ ”’.
“Unfortunately, negative calorie foods are a myth, and there is no easy way to lose weight and keep it off in the long run,” Dunford sums up.
“Changing your food and drink options for healthier ones on a permanent basis is more likely to lead to sustained long-term weight loss than short-term dieting alone.”