The Skinny on “Negative Calorie” Foods

Negative Calorie foodsYou may have come across a number of claims about certain foods that say that you can eat as much as you want of them because they require as much energy to digest them as you take in by eating them. But can such foods actually exist and if you eat them, will you be able to stop yourself from being hungry while you work to lose weight?

To understand the answer to those questions, it is important to gain a basic understanding of the way that calories are used by the body. Your body uses calories from foods in order to produce the energy that it needs for its basic functions as well as all of your physical activities. Among the functions of the body that do require this energy is digestion. Therefore, the idea that a food could have a very low number of calories and could require a higher amount of energy to properly digest it, could seem as though it has the potential to make sense.

Some foods that are water rich and low in calories such as cucumbers and celery are common examples of what are supposed to be negative calorie foods. Unfortunately, they’re not. The entire concept simply does not work.

Around 10 percent of your daily calorie intake is used to break food down and absorb its nutrients. Therefore, if you eat 1,800 calories per day, about 180 calories of that is used for digestion and absorption of all of that food throughout the day. Every single calorie that you eat works toward that total, regardless of how small or how nutrient dense it may be. If you go over the amount that you would burn in a day through the regular function of your body and by exercising, then it could contribute to weight gain.

By eating foods that are lower in calories and that are high in fiber and water, you’ll find it easier not to exceed your calorie limit and you will feel less hungry because of the appetite suppressing effects of the water and the fiber. These foods may not be negative calorie, but they make it a lot harder to eat too much to the point that you would gain weight. Cucumbers, celery, and other foods that are labeled as “negative calorie” can be great snacks for a dieter, but their very low calorie content still counts toward the total for that day.

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