What is a “Negative Calorie” Food?

Is there such a thing as a “negative calorie” food? A basic rule of nutrition is if it sounds too good to be true, it is! A negative calorie food is based off the concept that the body burns more calories to digest a food than it actually contains. Thus, if you eat only 20 calories worth of veggies and your body uses over 30 calories during digestion you are left with negative 10 calories. The truth is that while some foods, such as celery stalks which are very low in energy (14 calories/cup), or chewing on ice, may produce a negative calorie balance, the amount is negligible. Furthermore, it won’t do much for satiety or fullness levels either. At the end of the day, you’ll still be plenty hungry, or even ravenous, and desperately seeking the most calorie-filled food around. Did someone say ice cream?

Bottom line, if your goal is to lose weight try a more effective and sustainable approach. Incorporate plenty of high-fiber and low-calorie plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Fiber is zero calories and non-digestible so it helps keep you fuller longer and on the fewest calories possible. Achieving a daily negative calorie balance will be way easier to maintain throughout a lifetime. It also helps to add in some daily exercise to increase the “negative calorie” balance required for weight loss.


Here are some effortless ways to incorporate more fiber:


Swap your morning eggs with a high-fiber cereal:

◦      Some brands contain almost half your daily needs (25-38g) in just 1 serving! This much fiber at breakfast will keep you fully satisfied all the way until lunch.


Instead of a banana, grab an apple:

◦      Apples pack in 4 more grams of fiber than bananas which only have 1g. Apples also make great on-the-go snacks to stave off hunger during long commutes.


Choose beans over a baked potato:

◦      Beans provide 5 more grams of fiber per ½ cup serving than potatoes. They also contain protein and iron which rev up the calorie burning process.


Snack on popcorn, not Popchips:

◦      Air-popped popcorn clocks in at just 100 calories and a whopping 5g of fiber for 3 whole cups. Popchips are basically fiber-free and 3 times the calories for the same serving size.

Nick VanMeter