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Negative Calorie Diets – Is There Such a Thing?

Updated on October 19, 2012

It sounds too good to be true, but there may be some truth to it after all. A food with a negative calorie effect is one that requires the body to use more calories to break down and digest it than the amount of calories in the food itself. The theory dates back to 1929 when Dr. Victor Lindlarh discovered that it took more caloric energy to digest a food than the caloric value of the particular food. Dr. Lindlarh published his studies ten years later and referred to those foods as ones having “negative calorie values”. These foods are also referred to as having Catabolic properties.

Catabolic Foods are natural, unprocessed foods that are low in calories, carbohydrates and fats and also high in fiber. If you are interested in losing weight, catabolic foods allow you to eat larger portions of them. If you can eat larger portions and prevent hunger you may be more likely to stay on the diet and achieve your weight loss goals.

Instead of an all or nothing approach to weight loss, you may want to consider taking a look at the list of catabolic foods below. Choose from the list below to create meal plans. If you create your meals using at least 75% catabolic foods you will lose weight without much effort. A good tip is to eat the catabolic foods first so that you can feel fuller and satisfy your hunger. Dieting does not have to be complicated, adding mostly negative calorie foods to each meal could be an easy way to change your eating habits resulting in steady weight loss.

If you do not eat many negative calorie foods or have a gastro-intestinal or any other health condition you may want to speak to your doctor before making changing to your diet. Some high fiber foods can cause gas and bloating for some people, especially in the first few weeks.

Consume negative calorie foods in the natural state, this means fruits and vegetables are best consumed whole (not juiced), raw or lightly cooked. You want to limit processing and additives to these foods to maximize your results. In addition, watch what you are drinking. So many people unknowingly undo weight loss efforts by drinking unnecessary calories, so soda, fancy coffees and teas, juices and any other high-calorie beverages should be stopped or drastically reduced while you are eating this way. Drink water, low-fat milk or seltzer. Remember to vary the negative calorie foods to increase their nutritional content. The list of catabolic foods is quite long so creating a variety of meals is easy to do. Do not be afraid to change up your meals, experiment with foods, herbs and spices and, look for new recipes and try to make something new at least once per week.

Here is a good list of negative calorie value foods that you can use to create your meal plans.

Fruits: Limit servings to 4 per day. Apple, Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, Citrus Fruits (orange, lime, grapefruit, lemon) Melons (of any kind), Mango, Pineapple, Pear, Nectarine, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries.

Vegetables: Unlimited servings. Asparagus, Artichokes, Beets, Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Leafy Vegetables (any kind, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, escarole, bok choy, etc.), Leeks, Mushrooms, Okra, Onion, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Spinach, String Beans, Squash (of any kind).

Lean Meats: Avoid Fried Meats and limit serving size to 4 to 6 ounces twice per day. Eggs or egg substitute, Fish (any kind, not breaded or fried), Lean Red Meats, Chicken, Turkey, Clams, Crabs, Mussels.

Nuts/Fats/Oils: Nuts (any kind) consume 1.5 ounces per day. Use Olive Oil sparingly for dressings and in marinades.

The above list is by no means complete, there are many more fruits and vegetables. A simple web search with the keywords “negative calorie foods” or “catabolic foods” will turn up lists with even more food choices. The above list gives you a sampling of just many foods you can eat.

Remember to create meals using catabolic foods that make up seventy-five percent of the meal. You have freedom with the remaining twenty-five percent of your meal which will probably be a high calorie carbohydrate such as pasta, rice, bread, potato. For this twenty-five percent switch to the whole grain options, for example, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread and sweet potato or yams. The whole grain options are just as delicious but they have better nutritional values and will make you feel fuller longer.

We all know that any diet will work, if you follow with it. Consistency is the key to achieving weight loss. Creating your own meals from a long list of foods gives you the freedom and flexibility to eat what you like. Eating this way does not make you feel restricted. Dividing each meal into 75/25% is easy to follow too. This freedom and choice increases the likelihood of sticking to your plan. Give this approach a try.


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