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I bet you have ‘kind of, sort of’ heard of this before. You have heard that there are certain foods that contain negative calorie count. Before we go into details of what these foods are, it is important to understand the concept of negative calories.

Almost everything you eat contains calories. The few things that don’t are things like water and tea. Then why do nutritionists recommend certain foods and call them ‘negative calorie foods’? It’s quite simple actually. Our bodies require some energy to digest food. And the digestive process alone can burn up to 10% of the calories you eat. However, some food we consume may be so low in caloric content, and yet require a lot of energy to digest. These are called negative calorie foods because the calories gained from consuming them minus the calories lost by digesting them would be a zero or negative value. Unlike the common misconception, the food itself DOES NOT contain a negative calorie count.

There is a diet out there called the Negative Calorie Diet, which focuses on eating only these foods, and eliminating others from your diet. But wait! Before you jump for joy at the potential of losing weight by eating only these foods, remember that your body does need calories for energy to survive and to engage in physical activity like exercise. So please don’t resort to going on the ‘Negative Calorie Diet’ as that could lead to malnutrition, and possibly have a negative impact on your overall health. Most negative calorie foods are snacks, fruits, or items we can incorporate into a meal, not eat as a full meal in itself. Thus, they are good options to eat as snacks in between meals. Below are 13 of my favorite examples of negative calorie foods:

Green beans and peas
Spinach, ugwu, and other dark green leafy vegetables
Paw paw

The goal is to incorporate these negative calorie foods as part of a healthy lifestyle to limit the number of empty calories we consume (that is, calories we don’t need and don’t use). Note that these foods are mostly vegetables and fruits, which are known to be low in calories, so it does make sense that the amount of energy required to digest and absorb the nutrients from these foods equals or surpasses the amount of energy we receive from eating them.

Do you have any more examples of negative calorie foods? How do you incorporate them into your diet? Please leave a comment or catch me on twitter @eightsnweights.

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume is a fitness enthusiast (or as fondly referred to by family, a gym addict) who has resolved to bringing awareness to living a healthy lifestyle. Her mantra? You can only live life to the fullest if you’re determined to live it well. On check out her column: Bringing Fit Back and to check out where she started from visit


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