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Eating to Lose Weight: Negative Calorie Foods

By on May 20, 2013
Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils

As a lover of all things tasty, it’s hard for me to stay faithful to my weight loss diet. I love to eat, and all of my favorite foods are not allowed while on this diet. Basically, it’s pain and suffering for weight loss’ sake.

Imagine if there were foods that you could eat to lose weight, foods that would burn more calories than they provide. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

What Wikipedia Has to Say

I looked up “negative calorie foods” on Wikipedia [1], and it claims that these foods don’t really exist. They do give a list of foods that are very low in calories, but they scoff at the idea that negative calorie foods do exist. But is Wikipedia right?

The Truth About Negative Calorie Foods

The truth is that there are no foods that will burn more calories than you consume. Sad, but true.

However, it’s what happens after the food has been processed that makes the concept of “negative calorie foods” believable…

All food has calories, but some special foods have enzymes along with the minerals, vitamins, fiber, and so on. Vitamins will stimulate your body’s tissues to produce more enzymes, and the enzymes produced by the vitamins are enough to ensure that the food is digested.

“Empty calorie foods” are foods that don’t have enough vitamins to stimulate your body to produce enzymes, meaning your body has to work to produce those enzymes.

Lifehack: Don’t be fooled by “Zero” beverages. Aspartame is turned into strange toxins by the body, and drinking the soda can cause you to feel hungrier – as well as increase your risk of weight gain. [2]

With “negative calorie foods”, the vitamins and minerals inside the foods produce more than enough enzymes to process the foods themselves. Not only will the foods be digested, but there will be enzymes left over – freeing them up to digest something else.

A Look at the Facts

There haven’t been too many studies done into these foods, but many experts agree that the concept is sound:

Dr. Dean Ornish M.D. conducted a study in which his subjects followed a vegetarian diet consisting primarily of just fruits and veggies. The subjects lost an average of 20 pounds, without reducing their calorie intake or serving sizes. These were all older people, and there was no exercise involved. [3]

A 1994 article published in Self Magazine by Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. supported the concept of these negative calorie foods, though there was no research done. Basically, what he came up with was that the enzymes in these negative calorie foods will speed up the metabolism, causing it to process more than just the food from which the enzymes came.

“Negative Calorie” Foods

Here is a list of the foods that could be considered “negative calorie foods”:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Lentils

To sum it up: The negative calorie foods won’t immediately burn more calories than they provide, but the long term effects they provide can lead to an increased metabolism, increased calorie burning, and ultimately increased weight loss!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_calorie_food
[2] http://www.healthambition.com/diet-soda-and-weight-gain/
[3] http://www.diet.com/g/dean-ornishs-eat-more-weigh-less

About Andy Peloquin

I'm as passionate about fitness and health as I am about writing. I currently run 10 to 15 miles a week, box at least twice a week, attend Karate lessons four or five days a week. I've always been fascinated by dieting and fitness, and it's long been a passion of mine to learn more about healthy living, exercise, and eating right. I am studying to be a personal trainer, a nutrition specialist, and a Yoga instructor.

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