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Can someone explain the term 'negative calories'?

By August 22, 2008 - 6:48pm
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What does the term 'negative calories' mean?

I know it has something to do with eating foods that actually make you lose weight - even though these foods contain calories. The foods are healthy but this concept is counter intuitive to me. Some people swear by it, others say it holds no merit.

Any ideas? And does this concept really work?

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Negative calorie food...you mean like water?! :-)

I did not find much on "negative calorie food" in the Nutrition Journals, probably because as miscortes said, there really is not such a thing as a food NOT containing calories, but that our bodies may/may not expend more calories digesting that one particular food than the amount of calories it contains. The list of "negative calorie foods" provided above contains a few veggies & fruits, so that is probably why no one has come up with a "negative calorie food diet", as there are not enough of these types of foods to sustain us; there are no carbohydrates or proteins.

The foods given in the list are great, healthy snack food and foods to add to a meal. We all need more fruits and veggies!

Just an interesting side note: it looks like the process of eating expends about 100 calories per hour, so theoretically, if you consume less than 100 calories in that one sitting, it could be considered a "negative calorie meal". In reality, however, it would be impossible to eat an actual meal over the course of an hour that contains only 100 calories, and just one food item at that.

Just for a silly example, a cup of celery contains about 20 calories. So, if you ate just shy of 5 cups of celery over an hour, would that be considered a "negative calorie food"? This, of course, is not a healthy, or sustainable, manner to enjoy food and nourish the body.

And, remember the term “empty calories” is different, as it means that the food does not contain much, if any, nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc) and likely contains excessive calories!

For more information on nutrition and food, check out the American Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200010

August 24, 2008 - 7:48am
EmpowHER Guest

All foods have some calories. No food is actually "negative calorie" food. But there is an overall effect of certain foods in our body is that of "negative calories". Negative calorie foods are foods, which use more calories to digest than the calories the foods actually contain! Calories from these foods are much harder for the body to breakdown and process. In other words, the body has to work harder in order to extract calories from these foods. This gives these foods a tremendous natural fat-burning advantage, and are also known as fat burning foods.

Here is a great webiste that offers receipes for negative calorie foods. Does this help?


August 23, 2008 - 10:07am
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