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Top 10 Negative Calorie Foods

by Andrea Cespedes Google

About Andrea Cespedes

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.



According the "fitness nerd" at AnswerFitness.com, certain “negative calorie” foods purportedly take more calories to chew and digest than they provide. The theory behind negative calorie foods is a bit shaky and scientific evidence somewhat supports the concept, although Time Magazine recently debunked the myth of negative calorie foods. However, these so-called negative foods usually provide ample amounts of fiber and antioxidants with few calories and make a better snack choice than a bag of chips. Including these foods in your diet will not hurt you and if they help eliminate some foods with higher calories and less nutritional value then you are better off.


Celery contains lots of water, a bit of sodium, some trace minerals and an indigestible form of vegetable fiber called cellulose. Celery is notoriously low calorie--a large stalk contains nine calories. Although celery takes some effort to chew, the negative calorie effect is minimal. Still, celery makes a great low calorie, fiber-rich alternative to chips and snack mixes.


Star of its own diet, grapefruit contains citric acid and vitamin C which have a diuretic effect, flushing water from the body and reducing bloating as confirmed by researchers at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. The fruit is made up of 90 percent water and provides a scant 70 calories in a whole fruit. Eating grapefruit takes time, thus offsetting mindless snacking and can make you feel full, but negative calorie claims are unfounded.


Cucumbers do not provide a lot of fiber (unless you eat the skin), but they are made up of a lot of water and contain very few calories. The website Best-home-remedies.com notes that cucumbers also contain a high amounts of the trace minerals sulphur and silicon which supposedly help stimulate the kidneys and assist with cleansing of waste products from the body. Try spiking your water with cucumber slices.


Beets contain a significant amount of sugar so the fact that they are recommended on negative calorie diets seems suspect. However, they are a strong diuretic that assist the liver and kidneys in cleaning out fat deposits in the blood. Although the calories you eat from beets do count, they are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and have a place in a healthy diet.


Iceberg lettuce, in particular, is so low in calories and nutrients it almost qualifies as a zero-calorie food. Richer colored versions of lettuce like romaine contain iron and magnesium which help the liver clean out fatty cells. The real benefit of lettuce rests in its low calorie density—you can eat cups and cups of lettuce to feel full, but take in very few calories.


Watermelon shows up on a lot of negative calorie food diet lists. Water—as the name implies—is the primary component in watermelon. A cup of watermelon contains about 80 calories and 21 g of carbohydrates—the bulk of which come from sugar. No scientific data supports that the body will burn more calories digesting this low fiber fruit—but it is a healthy dessert alternative and certainly lower in calories than a bowl of ice cream.


Asparagus is a proven diuretic that helps flush water from the system and discourages bloating. The vegetable contains a chemical called asparagine which some believe improves circulation to break down fat. Asparagus also breaks up oxalic acid which encourages cells to hold onto fat—so some claim it reduces fat. It still contains calories, despite claims that it provides a negative amount.


The feature vegetable in many variations of the cabbage soup diet, cabbage can fill you up with its ample amounts of fiber. Cabbage contains very few calories and is a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. You can eat a lot of cabbage and take in very few calories, but despite reports to the contrary, the calories do count.


In addition to adding flavor to salads and meats without fat or a lot of calories, lemon supposedly has natural enzymes that help cleanse the body. It also has a reputation for revving your metabolism when taken first thing in the morning with warm water. You probably never take in a ton of calories from the addition of lemon anyway and it can assist in a weight loss program—but claims of negative calories are unfounded.


Garlic assists a dieter through the compound allicin which allegedly reduces cholesterol. Garlic also adds a lot of flavor to foods with minimal calories, so it can help dieters obtain flavor without fat. The mustard oils present in garlic help naturally cleanse the body and can wash out fat cells. At WebTerrace.com, it is noted that the amount of calories in garlic is negligible, so it often shows up on negative calorie lists because it does not contribute to weight gain.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.