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Negative Calorie Foods List - Myth or Fact?

Updated on March 8, 2011

Do Negative Calorie Foods Exist?

Negative calorie foods are the Bigfoot of the diet world -- some people insist they don't exist, but some swear by them, and in the end, most people aren't really sure, and have no way to go about investigating the truth.  In order to decide if they are fact or fiction, however, we need to agree on a definition.

All edible substances contain calories.  In this sense, no food actually contains negative calories, as it exists in the world.  It is only inside your body that the "negative calorie" effect comes into play.  After all, your body has to burn calories to function--to move your muscles, keep your heart beating, breathe, and to digest.  A negative calorie food simply takes more energy (measured in calories) to digest than are actually in the food itself.

What are negative calorie foods?

  • Negative calorie foods are foods that contain less energy (in calories) than they take to digest.

Negative Calorie Diet

The realization that some foods burn more calories than they contain was immediately applied to weight loss. Negative calorie diets sound appealing: eat as much as you want -- the more, the better! However, they're impracticial in reality. There is a limited list of negative calorie foods, and limited ways to prepare them, especially without adding extra calories. Steaming or boiling alone may not add calories, but they do make foods easier to digest, which may effectively cancel out the negative calorie effect.

There's also the fact that you have to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. A cup of raw broccoli is 30 calories, and takes about 80 calories to digest, which means you burn a net total of 50 calories. That means you'd have to eat 70 cups of broccoli to lose a pound! How long do you think that would take you???

While eating them alone won't melt the fat off you, it's still worth taking note of what foods are included on the negative calorie food list. Choosing one of these foods over a high-fat or highly-processed snack will definitely help--it's just not a magic trick to make pounds disappear.

Celery is a negative calorie food.
Celery is a negative calorie food.
  • Onion
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Radish
  • Raspberry
  • Spinach
  • Strawberry
  • Tangerine
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

Negative Calorie Foods List

  • Apple
  • Asparagus
  • Beet
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cranberry
  • Cress (garden)
  • Chicory
  • Chili (hot)
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Honeydew melon
  • Lemon
  • Lettuce
  • Lime
  • Mango

Disclaimer: The list above is a list of commonly-billed negative calorie foods.  I do not have the necessary data or expertise to make the calculations myself.


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