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Negative Calorie Foods: Can You Really Lose Weight By Eating More?

By Rob Poulos...

Over dinner, your friend begins gloating about her weight loss–nearly 10 pounds shed in less than a week, and hesitatingly, you admit she does look good.  So you have to ask: How did you do it?

Leaning in close, she whispers her secret.  No diet and exercise here; she asked for guidance from a natural food expert, who recommended negative calorie foods.

“You simple eat the foods on this negative calorie food plan,” she explains. “Just eat these foods and you’ll lose a lot of weight.”

But–something seems fishy.  And there’s good reason to be.

What are Negative Calorie Foods?

The premise of negative calorie foods is simple, but a bit scientific–some foods, such as celery or apples, require more energy to digest, overriding the amount of calories in the food.  As a result, you increase your caloric deficit after eating it.  Increase the amount and you’ll have a good, reasonable calorie deficit that should help shed the pounds quickly.

Not surprisingly, most of these foods are fruits and vegetables, foods already low in calories.  That includes kale, lettuce, and sometimes even oranges, which you can’t get enough anyways.

But if you switch exclusively to these negative calorie foods, you’ll lose weight.

For natural health gurus, there’s no denying the validity of negative calorie dieting.  You’re supposed to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables anyway–they’re rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals–so you’ll hit a double whammy by becoming healthier while losing weight.

For some physicians, however, there’s plenty of reason to question this diet’s validity.

Why Negative Calorie Foods are Bogus

Although the premise behind negative calorie dieting sounds believable, the saying “it’s too good to be true” holds well here, and here’s why.

Physicians agree that it takes more energy to digest food, but this doesn’t strictly apply to fruits and vegetables–it also applies to meat, grains, and even chocolate.  On average, you expend 5 to 10 percent of your metabolism on digestion.  The burning effect of fruits and vegetables are also largely exaggerated–while negative calorie supporters say you could burn more calories eating something like celery, which contains 6 calories, nutrition experts say you’ll only burn around 0.5 calories, which will hardly make an impact on your caloric intake.

So if you’re hoping to increase your caloric deficit by munching on celery, it won’t work, though you probably will lose weight.

Why Do Negative Calorie Diets Help You Lose Weight?

Although negative calorie foods aren’t likely to help you burn more calories, it does have a secret benefit–it can help you eat fewer calories while feeling full.

The reason?  Most negative calorie foods are low in calories and high in fiber, which, according to studies, can help you feel satiated for longer.  Theoretically, if a person eats 1500 calories worth of fruits and vegetables, he or she will feel fuller than the person who eats 1500 calories worth of sugar and grains.  This can help you stay on your diet for the long term–and you won’t feel ravenously hungry either.

So, in hindsight, negative calorie foods will make you lose weight, but only because you’re not eating enough calories.  It’s also an incredibly unbalanced diet plan, since whole grains and lean protein aren’t on this approved palm.  Our verdict: Find a more balanced diet plan instead.

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