Berries are good for DietingCredit: photo courtesy of Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture

Dieting hits the consciousness everyday as overweight people struggle to lose those unwanted pounds and those who don’t necessarily need to lose weight, try to maintain their healthy level of fitness.   Every year a plethora of fad diets encourage the obese to try them.  One such diet is the negative calorie foods diet.

 The Claim of the Negative Calorie Foods Diet

 The basis of the diet is in order to lose weight, one must take in fewer calories than the body burns.  This diet claims some foods require more energy, thus calories, to digest than they actually contain.  Therefore, the theory is if individuals eat these foods while dieting, the body has to work harder to use the calories provided by these foods and will draw from other foods or fat stores.  The diet is quick to explain no food actually has negative calories; rather it is the effect of the food on the body which gives it the moniker. 

 The diet claims fast weight loss when negative calorie, or often referred to as zero calorie foods are ingested.    Foods on the list of zero calories contain sufficient vitamins and minerals which produce enzymes to break down the calories of not just their own calories, but other calories present in the body as well.   The claim is this “negative effect” gives these foods a natural fat-burning quality.

 In his book “Negative Calorie Effect”, author Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. supports the concept of the diet. He explains the carbohydrates in these foods need a great amount of energy to breakdown the foods during eating and digestion.  Testimonials from dieters claim good results from eating these foods, reporting a loss of two-ten pounds in the first week and steady loss of at least two pounds per week in subsequent weeks.

 Negative Calorie Foods

 The list of zero calorie foods is comprised mostly of fruits and vegetables.  Fat content as well as calories in vegetables and fruits are generally low which is an advantage.  In addition, many of these food items are high in fiber which gives the stomach a sense of fullness.  

 Vegetables with purported negative or zero calories include:

  •  AsparagusNegative Calorie FoodsCredit: Photo by user: Hrushi3030
  • Beet Root
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Hot Chili
  • Cucumber
  • Garden cress
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini

 Fruits purported to be negative or zero calories foods include:

  • Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberry
  • Grapefruit
  • Honeydew
  • Lemon/Lime
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Tomato
  • Tangerine
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon

 Does the Negative Calorie Foods Diet Work

 There is no doubt the foods on this list are some of the most beneficial foods for a healthy body.  There is plenty of fiber and the berries provide antioxidants and a fair amount of protein.  The list is rich in foods with vitamins and minerals and little to no fat.  Combined with a sensible exercise routine, it would make sense the diet does work.  But does it do anything different than any other diet that counts calories?

 According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist, many of the foods on this list can “aid in losing weight as an overall healthy diet plan.”   He concedes while theoretically these foods could be considered negative calorie because they do require a relatively large amount of energy to digest; there is no validated scientific evidence that proves certain foods are negative or zero calorie and aid in weight loss.

He goes on to explain these foods are not  magic pills that will erase body fat.  In addition, he cautions against any diet that limits food to the extreme as it can prevent the body from getting all of the nutrients it needs.  He maintains the key to successful weight loss is adopting a sensible, healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. 

The bottom line is a negative calorie foods diet will probably work as well as any other and will yield similar results: short term weight loss that will be gained back if the dieters do not change their lifestyles.





The copyright of the article “The Truth About Negative Calorie Foods” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.