Negative Calorie Foods

The phrase "Negative Calories" seems to be causing some confusion as it suggests there are foods which possess no calories at all. All food contains some energy because they include an amount of carbohydrate, protein or fat either alone or in varying amounts. All these macronutrients are energy sources, and thus all food contains some energy.

The negative calorie phrase refers to a small list of foods (shown below) which contain such little energy that the body uses more energy to digest and absorb the energy and nutrients. This means that from eating these foods alone, there is potential for a net loss of calories from the body. This negative energy balance is a biological necessity in order to lose weight.

List of foods with Negative Calories

Negative calorie vegetablesAubergine, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chicory, Cress, Cucumber, Fennel, Gourd, Leek, Lettuce, Marrow,Peppers, Radish, Spinach,Tomato, Turnip, etc.
Negative calorie fruitsApricot, Blackberry Blackcurrant, Clementines, Damsons, Grapefruit, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Lemon, Mandarin orange, Melon Cantaloupe, Peaches, Plums, Raspberry, Rhubarb, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon

Combining negative calorie foods with good protein sources not only helps control appetite but will help maintain the metabolism because total calories are not cut too much, plus the amino acid pool is maintained which limits the loss of muscle.

The negative calorie foods controversy

There is indeed much controversy about the negative calorie diet and some experts believe it to be total rubbish. Some believe the amount of energy used may be relative to the amount and complexity of the meal ingested. In other words, the energy cost to digest and absorb may be set as a general percentage of the energy contained in each specific food, thus there cannot ever be foods with negative calories However, some research has proved that Celery does cause a negative energy intake, but this is mainly because the energy is "sealed" making the digestive system work harder to obtain its energy content.

Why is it interesting to consume negative calorie foods?

We are unsure as to whether negative calorie foods are fact or fiction. There needs to be more research done in order to prove or disprove the theory. Although we do believe negative calorie foods help people consume fewer calories AND eat healthier foods then it can be a positive start to permanent weight loss!

The table below lists the foods which are supposed to have a negative calorie effect on the body. One thing to remember is that the body needs a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day for healthy functioning. Eating a lot more of these negative calorie fruits and vegetables may help you lose weight but they should still only make up part of a balanced diet.If you wish to try the negative calorie food diet, seek advice from your doctor before introducing new foods to your diet plan.

9 Responses to Negative Calorie Foods

  1. Nita says:

    so im lost, the negative calorie foods, are the ones we should eat the most, to lose weight?

  2. Preeti says:

    Hi Nita,
    You still need to balance these "negative calorie" foods with regular foods. Eating only the fruits and vegetables listed above will not give you enough calories per day.

    Instead, add/substitute these items into your meals. If you are hungry, eat some watermelon and cantaloupe. If you want to have a light dinner, make a salad with peppers, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce and a dash of oil and balsamic vinegar.

  3. annie says:

    Does it matter if the vegetables are raw or cooked?

    • Eric says:

      Raw vegetables will almost always provide more metabolic boost; if that's just too unappetizing, I recommend steaming them til just-crispy. The more vegetables are cooked, the more of their food value cooks away.

    • Bonnie says:

      Microwaving vegetables in a microwave-safe container will actually enhance nutritional value. But, as Eric said, don't overcook!

  4. Marcos says:

    Thanks for posting this it has been really helpful. I had a question because I have seen many other lists on other website that include a large variety of other vegetables and fruits then this list. I have also seen that some meats are negative calories. Is there any way or some how I can confirm that? Again, thanks for your post very helpful.

  5. charlotte says:

    what kind of meat do you eat, any recipes that would be great. is anyone losing weight doing this? almost like veggie diet really with fruit

  6. steve says:

    low cal bolognaise sauce 125 grms lean mince 125 grms qourn mince 3 galic cloves chopped 1 tbs tomato puree 400 grms chopped toms 1 medium onion chopped rough 1 tsp creamy pepper sauce chilli powder mix sweat onion and garlic dry fry the lean mince add above ingridents simmer 20mins 1 tsp cornflour to thicken 50 grms boiled garden peas 65grms rice 50grms chopped mush rooms microwaved 1 min serves 3 200 cals ish per portion

  7. Hap says:

    I think there is something to this. During the "Dust Bowl" in the 1930s, many farmers who lost their own farms brought their families to California to work in the orchards. They were typically scammed financially, one big scam being the offer to "eat all you want" of whatever they were harvesting (this would be things such as on the list above). At first this sounded like a dream to people who had become so poor they were starving; however it quickly became apparent that this was making them sicker, thinner, and increasing their health very severely. This is well known and well documented, sad part of American history. It wasn't meant obviously as a "study" of whether there really are negative-calorie foods that, if you attempted to rely upon them, would actually do you harm; but I think this evidence is highly suggestive. Another such food is rabbit, which was well known amongst pioneers to be an unsafe food for consistent use, because it cannot support humans. Just for the sake of comparison, the food that was proven over time through real use to be the one best adapted for keeping people alive was cornmeal.

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