Not every food is created equally and not every calorie is burned equally
We all consider the calorie content of the food when trying to lose or gain weight. Calories are a measure of the energy stored in foods or in the tissues of your body. General guidelines for weight loss focus on eating fewer calories or using more of your stored calories through physical activity.
However, some foods are popular these days in weight loss diet because they are believed to be “negative calorie“ which means you lose weight by eating them.
This does not mean that these negative calorie foods do not contain calories. All foods have some calories and no food is actually “Zero” calorie but it explains the 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. These foods are usually plant-based foods that are rich in water and fiber such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Since water does not provide any calories and your body takes a longer time to burn fibrous foods, your digestion and metabolism is “on” for a longer time, giving a jumpstart to your weight loss and increasing metabolism ultimately.
In other words, the body has to work very hard in order to extract calories from these foods. This gives these foods a tremendous natural fat-burning advantage.
Enriched with nutrition and poor in terms of calories, here are the 8 best negative-calorie foods you need to include in your diet.
Celery: Containing barely 16 calories per 100 grams (as per USDA), celery is ranked high among negative calorie foods as 95% of the total weight is water. Packed with fiber, celery is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate.
Berries: Indulge in these sweet and tangy treats without feeling guilty. Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries contain just 32 calories per half a cup (as per USDA). Known for their anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants contains 95% water, berries are really good for your heart too.
Carrots: Carrots contain about 41 calories per 100 grams with 88% water. Along with being a good source of dietary fiber, carrots are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and potassium.
Lettuce: Next time you whip up a salad, add some more lettuce. It contains only 6 calories per 100 grams with 95% water, lettuce is not only low in calories but it is also rich in fiber, vitamin B, folic acid, and manganese.
Broccoli: It contains only 34 calories per 100 grams with 89% water. Broccoli is ranked high amongst superfoods. It is packed with fibers and antioxidants and studies have shown that they may also have certain anti-cancer properties.
Grapefruit: Containing about 40 calories per 100 grams with 92% water, grapefruit is a storehouse of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium along with soluble fiber pectin.
Tomatoes: It contains merely 19 calories per 100 grams with 94% water. Apart from being a juicy and delicious source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C. They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant known to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Tomatoes can also prove effective in lowering your cholesterol levels.
Cucumbers: This refreshing delight contains 16 calories per 100 grams with 95% water! Cucumbers are full of minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes and are extremely hydrating. It is also known as the classic cooling food which helps maintain the body’s water balance on hot days.
Watermelon: Watermelons contain 30 calories per 100 grams with 91% water. Watermelons are also rich in lycopene which can help protect the heart. The citrulline in the rind and the flesh of watermelon can also ensure smooth blood flow and enhanced immunity.
Apples: Containing about 50 calories per 100 grams with 86% water, apple is the fiber-rich snack you must keep in your bag to beat your mid-day hunger pangs. Apples are high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that encourages weight loss, and releases sugar gradually to help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.
Other similar fruits and vegetables, such as lemons, cabbages, berries or zucchini, are commonly included in these lists as well.
Further, because of the high fiber content, these negative calorie foods have a very low glycemic index and release sugar very slowly thereby giving it very little chance to get converted into fat. Additionally, fiber takes longer to flush out from our body and stay for longer delaying hunger.
In contrast, “empty calories” are the ones, which when consumed generate an immense amount of calories. The main source for empty calories food is fat and simple carbohydrate in refined sugar that contains no nutritional value. These fats are solid at room temperature, including shortening, most saturated fat in meat and dairy products and trans fat, manufactured to be solid at room temperature.
Refined sugar spikes the fat-storage hormone insulin, and poor-quality fats impair mitochondrial function and contribute to inflammatory weight gain.
For instance, a piece of dessert consisting of 400 calories may require only 150 calories to get digested by our body, resulting in a net gain of 250 calories which is added to our body as fat!
However, for negative calorie food, if you eat 100 calories of a food that requires 150 calories to digest, then you have burnt an additional 50 calories simply by eating that food.”
The take-home Message
Let’s start swapping empty calorie items with negative calorie food items. Making smart and tasty exchange can help you fill up on nutrients and satisfy your taste buds too.