Food with zero calories

How Can Something Have Zero Calories?

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The bottom line: Aside from water, no truly calorie-free food or drinks exist. Why do so many things say they have zero calories, then? The FDA legally allows manufacturers to label anything with less than five calories as having zero calories. (For example, the “No Calorie Sweetener”, Splenda, really has 3.4 calories per packet.)

Shocked? Well hopefully you’re sitting down, because “negative-calorie foods” are also a myth. The thinking behind negative-calorie foods like celery or cucumbers, is that you expend more calories digesting them than they contain, hence, you’ll burn calories merely by consuming them. Unfortunately, there’s no science to back this up. A single stalk of celery actually has about six calories, but you only burn about a half a calorie digesting it, meaning its net caloric value is around five-and-a-half calories.

Ice water is the only exception. Water has no calories, but since your body has to expend energy to keep at a constant 98 degrees, you do end up burning about eight calories per eight-ounce glass of ice water. If you drank eight of them per day, this would translate to a total loss of about six pounds … in a year.

Are there any food misconceptions you’d like us to help try to clear up? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!

The Truth About Zero-Calorie Food (
“Are there foods so low in calories that it takes as many (or more) calories to digest them as they contain?”

Misleading Labels: How ‘Zero’ Calorie Foods Contain Hidden Calories (
“We were having green beans and mushrooms with dinner the other night – one of my favorites. As usual, we had the no-calorie spray butter on the table and I noticed it was getting a little low.”

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Body weight comes from calories, so when you eat or drink something with zero calories, you gain zero weight. Right?

Wrong. Shockingly wrong. In fact, with the exception of water, any zero-calorie food or beverage you consume can lead not to weight loss, but to weight gain.

How can this be? Our bodies are complicated and finely tuned instruments, and explaining how they work is no simpler than explaining Google’s algorithm. So the calories in/calories out view of weight loss misses a lot of the nuance. In fact, zero calorie foods cause us to gain weight in several ways, according to our crack researchers at Eat This, Not That! (who will continue to report out the story on

  • They dampen your natural fat burners. The body burns a lot of calories trying to turn a pat of butter into a pat of you. But highly processed foods—which is what most zero calorie foods are—come so highly processed that they’re basically digested for you, so they don’t keep the body’s natural fat-burners firing.

  • They cause inflammation—and that causes weight gain. Introduce a bunch of chemicals into your digestive tract and you’re basically introducing an irritant. That can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in food, and it calls the digestive system’s natural defenses into play, creating inflammation. Inflammation causes our fat genes to “turn on,” increasing belly fat. (Speaking of: To melt away your belly, check out the essential Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat)

  • They mess up our ability to regulate what we eat. Here’s why: When you swallow that diet soda, the sweet taste makes your body anticipate the arrival of calories. And when the calories don’t show up, your body gets confused, and triggers your hunger response, sending you looking high and low for those missing calories—and often finding them in a snack bowl.

Here’s a run-down of some popular zero-calorie foods you might want to think twice about, and one that might actually help you lose weight. In the meantime, keep our indispensible guide to the 50 Best Snacks in America by your side for any afternoon hunger pangs.

Total Zero #1: Butter Sprays

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray claims to have zero calories. The ingredient list shows that it’s a mixture of soybean oil and water with thickeners, and artificial flavor enhancers. It also contains EDTA, which has been shown to interfere with nutrient absorption. But the real kicker is that this spray is only zero calories if you use 1 spray—Use 25 sprays and you’ve eaten 20 calories and 2 grams of fat. That means the whole bottle contains 904 calories and 90.4 grams of fat! Why would you bother with this fake-tasting spray when you could eat these Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny?

Related: 20 Shockingly Healthy Guilty Pleasure Foods

Total Zero #2: Walden Farms Products

Walden Farms offers a line of calorie-free dips, spreads, and sauces like peanut spread, chocolate syrup, marshmallow dip, pasta sauce, and mayo. Let’s take a look at the peanut dip for an example of what they consider preparing food “The Walden Way.” This peanut spread, meant to replace high-calorie peanut butter, contains water, vegetable fiber, salt, something called “natural fresh roasted peanut flavor,” and a bit of the artificial sweetener Splenda. In other words, this is not food. It’s artificial flavor, artificial sweetener, and salt. Imagine the confusion your body will be in when this hits your mouth and no calories are there to back it up. Skip these calorie-free sauces for a real food version, but read labels, or you’ll be dousing your food with a sneaky source of sugar.

Total Zero #3: Diet Soda

Regular soda is definitely not good for you, but you’re not doing your body any favors by choosing diet cola. One recent study from Johns Hopkins researchers found that people who drink diet beverages end up consuming more calories from food than people who drink regular soda or other sugary beverages. (For more cola shockers, click on our eye-popping Surprising Reasons to Finally Give Up Soda.)


…Total Hero! Zero Noodles

Now here’s something a little different—a winner in the no-cal foods section: Zero Noodles. These noodles are made from glucomannan fibre, which is made from a Japanese root plant called the Konjac plant. In other words, they’re actual food, not chemicals. The claim is that these noodles are a replacement for rice and pastas that provides bulk and satiation without the calories. And there have been quite a few studies showing that glucomannan fibre might actually aid in weight loss and reduce LDL cholesterol. This zero is a hero.

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9 ‘zero-calorie’ foods that actually have calories in them


One tablespoon contains 20 calories. Flickr/PWRDF

As far as trendy superfood ingredients go, spirulina is currently leading the pack. “Spirulina is a type of algae that contains many vitamins and minerals, as well as protein,” explains Gorin. “One tablespoon of dried spirulina contains 20 calories and offers about four grams of protein.” In addition to helping give your smoothie a protein boost, Gorin points to research showing that spirulina can potentially help people with allergies. “One study found that patients with allergic rhinitis receiving 2,000 milligrams of spirulina daily noticed beneficial effects. You can purchase spirulina in capsule or powdered form. For the capsule form, 2,000 milligrams would contain about seven calories.”


Spices are a fantastic way to flavor food, but they’re not calorie-free like many people think. Yes, they are very low in calories — especially compared to most condiments and sauces. But Gorin says that one teaspoon of cinnamon contains six calories. “You can use cinnamon to sweeten your coffee or as a mix-in to sweeten muffins. Research shows that cinnamon may help control blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Even just one gram of cinnamon — about half a teaspoon — daily has been found to have beneficial effects.” This is a spice that’s worth its weight in calories. Check out how cinnamon may be the secret to boosting weight loss.

Sugar-free gum and mints

The calories add up. limarie/ Flickr

Don’t get fooled by sugar-free labeling — it doesn’t mean calorie-free. “Each stick of sugar-free gum has five calories, and if you chew a large pack (18 sticks) that’s 90 extra calories daily,” says Leslie J. Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, and the owner of Active Eating Advice. Ditto for sugar-free mints like Tic Tacs. “These may only have two calories in one, but they’re very easy to overconsume over the course of the day.”

Fat-free dressing

The calories in a single tablespoon of fat-free dressing, like those from Walden Farms, may say zero, but even if that was true (which we know it’s not), who uses a single tablespoon? “Most people try to have a big salad to fill them up and that means more dressing,” says Bonci. “Yes the calorie-free dressing may have fewer calories than most regular ones, but the more you use the more calories you will accumulate.”


You’re really just ingesting the leaves.

Matcha is full of good-for-you antioxidants, but unlike green tea, it’s not calorie-free. Why? Matcha is a powdered green tea that is prepared by whisking the powder with hot water, meaning you’re ingesting the tea leaves. On the plus side, the calories are very minimal and matcha boasts significantly more nutritional benefits than you would get with traditionally brewed leaf teas. In fact, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of matcha is equal to eight to 10 cups of regular tea in terms of its antioxidant power. Check out matcha’s cancer and disease fighting properties.

Diet soda

You’ll see claims of “calorie-free” because the product contains artificial sweeteners, gel, and fiber that isn’t absorbed by the intestinal tract. According to Shilpi Agarwal, MD: “The concern with artificial sweeteners is that they confuse the brain in terms of sweetness detection, insulin signals, and hunger/satiety signals. In the long term, we know that people who consume a lot of artificial sweeteners, for example, diet soda drinkers, are actually heavier/gain more weight.” The evidence linking diet soda and weight gain is grim.


Splenda plays tricks with your mind. Flickr/avrene

Splenda can lead to weight gain, and not just because it’s not zero calories. “It’s an artificial sweetener which confuses the brain in terms of satiety signals and can cause weight gain down the road. Avoid it,” advises Dr. Shilpi. If you’re not convinced, it’s on the list of 50 foods nutritionists never eat.


The myth is that celery has zero calories because you burn more calories chewing it than the vegetable actually contains. While, like these other foods myths, that may not be true, celery is in fact mostly water. In other words, it is about as close to being calorie-free as you can get, and therefore is a better low-cal choice than many other options on this list.

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Money Crashers

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, the obesity rate in America is expected to reach 44% by 2030. Obesity can be calculated by measuring a person’s body mass index (BMI), a number derived from weight and height which provides a reliable indicator for inferring potential health problems. A BMI above 25 is considered overweight, and anything higher than 30 is considered obese, both of which are at-risk categories.

If you’re obese, the prospect of losing the weight needed to drop to a healthy BMI can seem like a daunting task. However, simply trimming 5 or 10 pounds can go a long way toward improving your overall health, reducing your chances of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and lowering your healthcare costs.

If the journey ahead seems too tough to achieve, start out with baby steps. Make very small adjustments, one at a time, to what you eat. A simple, effective, and very satisfying way to do this is to introduce “zero-calorie” foods into your diet.

What Are Zero-Calorie Foods?

A food is considered “zero-calorie” when the calories burned through its consumption and digestion are less than or equal to the total calories in the food itself. Put simply, if a mushroom only has five calories but your body expends 10 calories digesting it, it’s a zero-calorie food.

Such foods can not only help you lose weight, they can also help you save money. Most are fairly inexpensive, especially if you purchase them at a local farm or farmers’ market. Also, eating these healthy foods can naturally boost your immune system and, over time, your body is likely to reward you with fewer trips to the doctor, which can be a big money saver.

If you think of your dinner plate as a pie chart, start adding a few zero-calorie foods in there. Eventually work your way up to a 30% to 50% content in your meals and you’re going to see drastic improvements to your health. This simple rule alone can limit your consumption of fatty and caloric foods and can go a long way toward helping you lose that extra weight.

There are a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are zero-calorie – and by increasing your daily consumption, you can start down the road toward better overall health.


Grapefruits, Apricots, Oranges, Tangerines, Strawberries, Watermelon, and Apples
Many fruits, including those listed, are excellent sources of dietary fiber, which naturally helps your body break down any sugars contained within the fruit itself. Because dietary fibers are more difficult than other food matter for your body to digest, you expend more energy in the digestion process which, in turn, means that more calories are burned.

All of these fruits are great sources of vitamin C which promotes a healthy immune system and acts as an antioxidant, and a couple (grapefruits and apricots) are excellent sources of vitamin A, which improves vision and skin health. Furthermore, while these seven fruits are all part of a healthy, balanced diet, citrus fruits provide an added benefit in that they may help reduce your risk of stroke. According to a study published in the medical journal, “Stroke,” a higher intake of the flavonoids found in citrus fruits correlates with a reduced risk of ischaemic stroke.

Of course all fruits are good for you, but that doesn’t mean that all are zero-calorie. For instance, bananas, grapes, pears, figs, and avocados are all more caloric than the fruits listed above. Don’t shy away from eating any of them, however, as the nutrients they provide are all heart-healthy and essential. Just be aware that those with more fructose are going to put your calorie intake in the positive.


Eaten as a side dish, in a salad, or simply as a snack, there are plenty of good reasons why so many health professionals urge you to eat your veggies: they’re low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with essential vitamins. Like fruits, all vegetables impart certain health benefits, so it’s hard to go wrong with them. And the following veggies are all considered to be zero-calorie:

Spinach and Leafy Greens, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Celery, and Onions
These six vitamin-rich veggies have an enormous amount of vitamins A and C, and good levels of folate, which aids in cell growth and the synthesis and repair of DNA. They also contain potassium, which is an important electrolyte key in efficient nerve transmission.

Surprisingly, celery packs a serious vitamin punch. It’s high in fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, manganese (an antioxidant that promotes a healthy nervous system, among many other health benefits), and vitamin K, which strengthens bones and aids blood clotting in cases of injury. If you can afford a few calories, pair it with some peanut butter and you’re good to go.

Apart from being a great pizza topping, mushrooms are excellent is soups, salads, and a bevy of cuisines from East to West. Their high level of vitamin D aids in the absorption of the calcium in that pizza cheese, and they also contain loads of B vitamins, which lighten your mood and give you energy and focus that lasts hours after you’ve eaten.

Kelp, a form of marine algae, may be a foreign food to many inland, but it’s truly delicious incorporated with other vegetables, used in soups, as a garnish, or even on its own. Kelp has a unique, salty, and fresh taste with a bite similar to al dente linguine noodles. The Japanese prepare it simply with rice vinegar and sesame seeds. Blanch it for a few seconds in salted boiling water to reconstitute it and mix it up with raisins and a tahini-miso dressing for a fresh salad. You can toss some strips with oil and maple syrup, bake them for about five minutes at 300 degrees, and you’ve got a crunchy snack of kelp chips.

Also, try chopping up a few stalks and cooking them with dried beans. It makes the beans more tender and digestible, and gives them a great, unique flavor. You can find kelp in noodle and powder form in most Asian markets.

Asparagus, Green Beans, Broccoli, and Cauliflower
These four veggies are all great sources of vitamin A, C, and B. Asparagus contains several anti-inflammatory compounds that can help protect you from type-2 diabetes and heart disease. The magnesium and calcium in broccoli can help regulate your blood pressure. Its glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the compound sulforaphane, is also a natural cancer fighter. Cauliflower has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and green beans are so high in calcium that they can satisfy your requirement if you happen to be lactose intolerant.

Zucchini and Summer Squash
The manganese in zucchini and squash helps the body process fats, carbohydrates, and glucose. In addition, zucchini can help lower your cholesterol and prevent prostate cancer in men with its phytonutrients. Squash lends itself to improving the health of your colon, eyes, and bones.

Low-Calorie Meal Preparation

Now that you’ve got your ingredients, here are a few quick and easy ways to prepare these amazing zero-calorie foods:

1. Steaming
Steaming is a great way to cook vegetables with delicate flavors and still retain all the nutrients that boiling them may diminish. Steam some green beans, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower, and add a squeeze of lemon and unprocessed salt (full spectrum salt like Himalayan pink salt has tremendous health benefits; see below). If you want to add an Eastern flare to your dish, try steaming some broccoli and adding a bit of white pepper, diced ginger, and garlic.

2. Grilling
Summer squash, zucchini, or asparagus grilled with a light coating of butter or extra virgin olive oil make an excellent addition to any cookout. Or, if you’re cooking in, just throw them on an indoor electric grill for a great rainy day meal.

3. Make a Salad
Any of the vegetables listed above can be combined to make the perfect salad. Just throw them together and you’ve got a power-packed lunch with plenty of necessary nutrients. Mix leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, carrots, and red bell pepper, and instead of a commercial dressing like ranch or thousand island, add some olive oil (which contains healthy fats), unprocessed salt, and black pepper or chili pepper, which is great for circulation and digestion. You can also add some natural sweetness with diced up apricots, strawberries, apples, or any of the other delicious fruits on the list above.

Final Word

Keep in mind that sodium chloride (common table salt) is processed to the point that it is entirely devoid of nutrients. When spicing up your zero-calorie meals, try using Himalayan pink salt, or any unprocessed salt with a reddish-brown tint. Its 84 trace elements – including potassium, iron, and calcium – offer tremendous health benefits such as strengthening your immune system, providing relief for aches and pains, relaxation, deeper sleep, and water retention. Most grocery stores now carry unprocessed salt, so if you can find it, get it.

Developing new eating habits is not an easy task. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to become a zero-calorie food expert in one day. Take it slow, print a list of these fruits and vegetables, and carry it with you on your next trip to the grocery store. Grab a few items to try for dinner and let the experimentation begin. If you use a meal delivery service like HelloFresh or Freshly, make sure the meals you choose include some of these items. Next, work on expanding your selection, and pretty soon, you’re going to feel the effects of zero-calorie foods on your energy, waistline, and bottom line.

Have you tried incorporating zero-calorie foods into your diet?

Are negative calorie foods healthy?

Nutritionists have debated for years around the label of ‘zero calorie’ foods, and because calories in vs. calories used when digesting is not an exact science as everybody has a different metabolic rate and processes food differently. Therefore ‘zero calorie; is not a tagline many health professionals are willing to use. To say that your body burns more calories digesting the food than the food actually contains has not definitely been proven. One thing nutritionists can agree on though is that there are foods, namely fruits and vegetables, that are very low in calories and very good for you.

It is not recommended that you eat only these foods however, as everyone needs to eat a certain amount of calories every day to have their body function properly and these ‘zero calorie’ foods won’t give you enough calories or provide a balanced diet in the long term. Following any extreme diet can be dangerous to your health and these low calorie foods are meant to be eaten as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

8 ‘zero calorie’ foods

1. Strawberry

Strawberries are well loved for their juicy sweetness and bright red colour. The seasonal berry is versatile and can be used in salads, baking or eaten alone as a snack.

Calorie count: 32 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Strawberries contain polyphenols which are believed to have a preventive effect against heart disease. They contain antioxidants, potassium, fibre, vitamin C and are low in fat.

2. Watermelon

Watermelon, like many melons, are considered a dieters best friend as they can be eaten in large portions and are low in calories. Watermelon is 91% water which is why it is so low in calories. Refreshing watermelon can be used in salads, eaten alone or blended into delicious smoothies.

Calorie count: 30 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Watermelon contains no fat. It is a source of vitamins C, B5 and A. It also contains potassium and copper (a mineral bodies need), amino acid citrulline and the antioxidant lycopene.

3. Green apple

Green apple, also known as Granny Smith apple, are a tart but tasty apple variety that can be found all year round in supermarkets. They’re great as a snack or served on cereal or yoghurt.

Calorie count: 58 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Green apples contain procyanidins (a type of flavonoid that lowers bad cholesterol), polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamin A and a high fibre count.

4. Broccoli

Leafy greens are an important part of any diet and broccoli is considered a leafy green. While many only eat the top (or ’leaves’), the stalk of broccoli can be eaten also. Broccoli is great in many savoury dishes such as stir fries, vegetable bakes or as a healthy side at dinner.

Calorie count: 33 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Unlike most vegetables, broccoli contains iron and protein. It is also a rich source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and antioxidants.

5. Celery

The long fibrous stalks of celery makes it a filling and satisfying snack with crunch. It can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of dishes such as salads and soups. Celery is also more recently consumed in the health community as a juice.

Calorie count: 18 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Celery contains no fat and is low in carbohydrates. It is high in fibre, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium and folate.

SEE MORE: Is the new celery juice trend good for you?

Kale is a green and leafy cruciferous vegetable that has been growing in popularity over the last few years as an alternative to spinach. It can be cooked into savoury dishes, baked into kale ‘chips’ or eaten in salad.

Calorie count: 28 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Kale contains potassium, calcium, fibre, vitamin K and chlorophyll (which is beneficial in detoxing).

7. Lettuce

Lettuce comes in many varieties, shapes and sizes, but all are healthy for you and pack a nutritional punch. Whether purple, iceberg, butter, romaine or cos, lettuce is a great base for salads or on sandwiches.

Calorie count: 17 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Lettuce is a source of calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and folate.

8. Grapefruit

The image of half a grapefruit for breakfast is one of the most enduring diet culture images, but grapefruit is a delicious and healthy fruit from the citrus family that shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether you prefer the sweeter pink grapefruit, or the more tart yellow grapefruit, both are well suited to being used in fruit salads, as a snack or in fresh juices.

Calorie count: 42 calories per 100 grams

Nutrition: Grapefruit are a rich source of vitamin A, C, B1 and B5. They contain antioxidants, phytonutrients and are low in saturated fat.

Negative Calorie Foods: You Can Eat These 11 Foods & Not Gain Weight

One of the most popular food fads that has grabbed everyone’s attention in recent times is the notion of negative calorie foods. According to this theory, you can have as much of these foods as you like without any weight gain, and that’s because digesting these foods takes up more calories than what they inherently contain. Hence, nullifying the calorie addition. This does not mean that thesenegative calorie foods do not contain calories but only the fact that your body ends up burning more calories than what you consume. A win-win situation. Isn’t it? Renowned Bangalore-based Nutritionist, Dr. Anju Sood, explains, “We classify calories in two categories. Empty calories and negative calories. Empty calories are the ones, which when consumed generate immense amount of calories (main sources being fast food and refined sugar). These contain no nutritional value. The other, negative calories, come from foods that are nutritious and low on calories. They are great to be added to your diet if you want to lose weight as your body does require bare minimum calories to generate energy and sustain.”
“High fiber foods or those that have a low glycemic index can be called as negative calorie foods. High fiber foods fulfill two purposes. Our body takes longer to flush out fiber from the body, hence they stay in the body and delay hunger. And secondly, these zero calorie foods release sugar slowly and so, the incidence of it turning into fat is low,” says Dr. Sood.

Rich in nutrition and extremely low on calories, load your plate with these delicious negative calorie foods.

1. Celery

Negative Calorie Foods: Celery is ranked high among negative calorie foods.

Containing barely 16 calories per 100 grams (as per USDA), celery is ranked high among negative calorie foods. Packed with fiber, celery is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate.

2. Berries

Negative Calorie Foods: Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries contain just 32 calories per half a cup (as per USDA).

Indulge in these sweet and tangy treats without feeling guilty. Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries contain just 32 calories per half a cup (as per USDA). Known for their anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, berries are really good for your heart too.

3. Grapefruit

Negative Calorie Foods: Grapefruit is a storehouse of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium along with soluble fibre pectin.

Containing about 40 calories per 100 grams, grapefruit is a storehouse of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium along with soluble fibre pectin. In the book ‘Healing Foods’ by DK publishing, the authors suggest that foods rich in vitamin C can help reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma.
4. Carrots

Negative Calorie Foods: Carrots contain about 41 calories per 100 grams.

Carrots contain about 41 calories per 100 grams. They are also low in cholesterol and saturated fats which can work wonders if you happen to be struggling with hypertension issues. Along with being a good source of dietary fiber, carrots are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and potassium
5. Tomatoes

Negative Calorie Foods: Tomatoes can also prove effective in lowering your cholesterol levels.

This tangy delight contains a minimal of 19 calories per 100 grams. Apart from being a juicy and delicious source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C. They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant known to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Tomatoes can also prove effective in lowering your cholesterol levels.
6. Cucumbers

Negative Calorie Foods: Cucumbers are full of minerals, vitamins and electrolytes and are extremely hydrating.

16 calories per 100 grams! Yes our favourite salad is that low on calories. Cucumbers are full of minerals, vitamins and electrolytes and are extremely hydrating. It is also known as the classic cooling food which helps maintain the body’s water balance on hot days.
7. Watermelon

Negative Calorie Foods: Watermelons are also rich in lycopene which can help protect the heart.

Another summer favourite, watermelons contain 30 calories per 100 grams. Watermelons are also rich in lycopene which can help protect the heart. The citrulline in the rind and the flesh of watermelon can also ensure smooth blood flow and enhanced immunity.
8. Apples

Negative Calorie Foods: the fiber present in apples also provides relief from constipation.

Now they don’t say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ for nothing. Containing about 50 calories per 100 grams, apple is the fibre-rich snack you must keep in your bag to beat your mid-day hunger pangs. Apples are high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that encourages weight loss, and releases sugar gradually to help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels. The fiber present in apples also provides relief from constipation.
9. Zucchini

Negative Calorie Foods: The phytonutrients in Zucchini also promote bowel regularity and aid water balance in the body.

Containing as low as 18 calories per 100 grams, zucchini is one of the highly recommended negative calorie foods by the nutritionists. The phytonutrients in Zucchini also promote bowel regularity and aid water balance in the body.
10. Broccoli

Negative Calorie Foods: Broccoli is ranked high among superfoods.

As suggested by Dr. Anju Sood, plant-based foods are high in fiber and great calorie burners. Containing barely 34 calories per 100 grams. Broccoli is ranked high amongst superfoods. It is packed with fibers and antioxidants and studies have shown that they may also have certain anti-cancer properties.
11. Lettuce

Negative Calorie Foods: Lettuce is not only low in calories but it is also rich in fiber, vitamin B, folic acid, and manganese.

Next time you whip up a salad, add some more lettuce. Containing only 6 calories per 100 grams, lettuce is not only low in calories but it is also rich in fiber, vitamin B, folic acid, and manganese.
Include these foods in your daily diet, if you are looking to shed some pounds. While these low-calorie foods can really help, remember that it is equally essential to maintain a balanced diet with all-round nutrition.
Comments*All calorie statistics are as per USDA

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

It sounds like a dieter’s dream: Foods that require more calories to digest than they actually contain. But, alas, so-called “negative-calorie” foods are likely a fantasy — according to a new study done in lizards, they don’t seem to exist.

The study is one of the first to scientifically test the idea of negative-calorie foods — a popular notion among dieters that’s been promoted in forums, blogs and books alike. Some of the most cited examples of purportedly negative-calorie foods include celery, lettuce, grapefruit, cucumber and broccoli. The thinking goes that these low-calorie, high-fiber foods take more energy to digest and process than they themselves contain.

In the new study — published March 24 on bioRxiv, a preprint website for biological studies that have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal — the researchers found that even celery provided the lizards with more energy than it took to digest and process the food. On average, the lizards retained about a quarter of the calories in their all-celery meals, while the rest were either used in digestion or excreted.

“Regardless of the in the food, you’re always going to be able to get something out of it,” said study senior author Stephen Secor, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama. In the case of foods like celery, “it’s not going to be a lot; but the food itself always is going to provide a profit,” calorie-wise.

Although the study was conducted in lizards, Secor told Live Science that if studies were done in people, “you probably would come out with something very similar” to the study’s results. “It doesn’t make sense you would run into a negative,” regarding calories, he added.

But even if these foods aren’t technically “negative-calorie,” eating them could still help you lose weight. That’s because, being low in calories, they don’t put much of a dent in your daily calorie needs. You’d have to eat an awful lot of celery — nearly 30 lbs. (12.6 kg), according to the researchers’ estimates — to offset the number of calories you burn in a day overall.

What’s more, a meal of celery is “not going to sustain you for very long,” Secor said. Instead, the researchers suggest referring to these foods as “negative budget” foods, since consuming them “will favor a daily negative budget, and hence weight loss,” they wrote in their paper l.

The study has been submitted to the Journal of Experimental Biology and is under review, Secor said.

Negative calories?

Many nutritionists and doctors have been skeptical of the idea of negative calories. For example, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that foods such as celery, lettuce and cucumbers still count toward your day’s calories, despite containing very few calories. But few studies have put the idea to the test.

In the new study, the researchers used the “bearded dragon” lizard (Pogona vitticeps) for their animal model. Although bearded dragons and people aren’t exactly close on the evolutionary tree, they have some things in common: They are omnivores, and have a gastrointestinal tract and digestive process that’s similar to that of mammals, including humans, the researchers said. Plus, they don’t mind eating a lot of celery.

The study, led by then-undergraduate student Katherine Buddemeyer, used special machines to determine the animals’ metabolic rate, as well as how much energy they used to digest and absorb meals of raw, diced celery. They also accounted for how much energy was lost in the animals’ urine and feces.

The animals used about 33% of the calories in the meal for digestion, and about 43% were excreted. That meant that the animals retained about 24% of the meal’s energy.

Although the study looked at only one food in one type of animal, the researchers then made a few assumptions in order to estimate the net energy gain (or loss) that might occur in people if they consumed 10 foods that are often cited as negative calorie. In addition to celery, these foods included broccoli, apples, carrots, grapefruit, tomato, cucumber, watermelon, green leaf lettuce and blueberries.

The researchers assumed that people use about 25% of their meal energy for digestion and absorption of food, (a percentage that’s two to three times higher than what has been calculated in most human studies and also likely accounts for the calories burned from chewing.)

Even with very conservative estimates, the researchers calculated that people would retain about 19 to 50% of the calories from these foods.

Still, a meal of 3 kg (6.6 lbs.) of celery would provide only enough fuel to sustain a 60-kg (132 lbs.) woman for less than 6 hours of inactivity, the study said. This means these foods would likely help with weight loss, as long as a person is substituting them for higher calorie foods in their typical diet. But “adding a handful of celery while eating a Big Mac really isn’t going to help,” Secor said.

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Originally published on Live Science.

Who, What, Why: Can foods have negative calories?

Dieters looking for a quick fix may turn to the promise of negative-calorie foods. But can eating actually burn calories?

Spring can be a confusing time for the body-conscious – a time when thoughts drift towards summer on the beach, but chilly temperatures have many reaching for an extra biscuit.

Those looking to shed a few pounds have often clung to the hope of “negative-calorie” foods – a workout for your taste buds that burns calories while you chew.

But do these foods actually exist?

“A negative-calorie food would by definition consume more calories, for the body to handle it and process it, than is contained in the nutrient content in the food.

“Theoretically that’s possible,” says Tim Garvey, chair of the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

“In actuality there are no negative-calorie foods,” he says.

Or, as the esteemed nutritionist Marion Nestle put it in a one-line email to the BBC: “Total myth. Nothing else to be said.”

Consider celery, often proposed as a negative-calorie food due to its low-calorie count, high water density, and impressive fibre content.

While all that chewing and digesting of the fibrous food does burn calories, it doesn’t burn a lot. “

There may be just 10 calories in a larger stick, but the body takes only one-fifth that much,” to process, says Dr Garvey. “It’s still calorie plus.”

Never mind that man cannot live on celery alone, and few people just eat raw celery.

“It’s more of a gateway to cream cheese or peanut butter,” says David Grotto, a nutritionist and author of The Best Things You Can Eat.

That’s not to say that celery sticks – along with other high fibre, water-heavy fruits and vegetables – have no value as weight-loss aids.

“These foods do fill up the stomach and increase satiety,” says Dr Garvey, keeping you from ingesting more calories later – but not burning off the calories you’ve already consumed.

But there are other things you can eat or drink that are supposed to work in a different way, by making the body work harder.

One is cold water, which the body has to warm up to 37C (98.6F). But Grotto is not particularly impressed.

“There’s no research to say that cold water drinkers burn more calories,” he says.

“Any amount of metabolic hit is not a significant amount – maybe five calories.”

Other foods have different ways of increasing the rate at which we burn calories (otherwise known as the metabolic rate). Caffeine, guanine, taurine and green tea extracts all have these properties, says Ron Mendel, who has done research on diet drinks that combine these ingredients.

In a study with only 20 participants, he found that those who consumed a diet drink called Celsius, which debuted in 2005, burned more calories than when they drank diet cola.

“The big picture here is, this is certainly not adding up to hundreds of calories a day by any stretch,” says Mendel, the programme director for exercise science at Mount Union University in Alliance, Ohio.

“There’s no magic bullet,” he says.

Still, he speculates the small gains could result in a loss of 10lb (4.5kg) over a year.

“I wouldn’t say it was going to replace me exercising and make up for me from eating 4-5 donuts a day,” he says.

“But if you just make that one change, over a significant amount of time, it could add up to something.”

Dr Garvey is sceptical that the change in metabolism could lead to real weight loss.

As a doctor focused on obesity and nutrition, Dr Garvey maintains that the only real way to lose weight is the boring, old-fashioned, unsatisfying and ultimately successful method: eat fewer calories than you burn through exercise – not digestion.

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