Negative Calorie Food: Reality or Myth

negative calorie

The concept of negative calorie food is very popular these days. What can be better than losing calories after eating! The concept is cute (!) and drool worthy, isn’t it? But is there really any such thing like a negative calorie food. Well, let us find out.

The Concept: Negative calorie food is a food that provides lesser calories than are utilized by our body in digesting and metabolizing it. Some of the food that have been flatteringly put into this category are celery, citrus fruits, papaya, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, etc. Some of the well known beverage companies even advertised their products as having negative calories, quite incorrectly.

Truth: Though there are some foods that takes more calories out of the body during the digestion process than others, but overall, the amount of calories used in mastication, churning and absorption is minuscule when compared to calories that food items generally contain. The entire digestive process usually account for about 10% calories of most caloric intake. Yes, some of the food items may take up to 20 or even 30%, but it is still way short of 100 percent, isn’t it!

The Positive about Negative Calorie Food: The core idea behind negative calorie food isn’t bad as such. For instance, most fruits and vegetable do contain less calories. And more importantly, they supplement our body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. So they are very healthy and good for our body, and instrumental in keeping weight issues at bay.

The Negative About Negative Calorie Food: There is nothing negative as such about the food items that has been placed into this magical category. But the problem is that, this erroneous concept has been sensationalized and used to sell their products by some diet product and beverage companies. And some of their product even have found to be containing more calories than claimed by them.

The Verdict: God made food so that we can have calories, which are vital to keep our heart pumping and for our brains to keep churning ideas (including this idea!). So why would there be a food which will take more than it will give! Nature doesn’t work that way.

There is indeed a Negative Calorie Beverage: Ice water has no calories, whereas our body spend a few calories to raise its temperature to body level. So, it is the only beverage that may be called as negative calorie. But even if you drink a glass of ice water every day, it will take you one year to lose one pound. Nothing to hold your breath about!

-Dr. Deepak Kripal