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Negative Calorie Foods – What Are They, How They Work, Diet Plan & Benefits

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Obesity is a life-threatening disease that has infected around 700 million people across the world. Its outbreak has introduced a plethora of solutions in the form of many weight loss diets prevailing in the market today. But the problem does not end with this. With so many diets and workout regimens available to us, how do we find out which works best for us? This can be extremely challenging. In his situation, it is recommended to take foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients, commonly known as negative calorie foods.

What are Negative Calorie Foods?

Negative calorie foods are the foods rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that let you burn more calories to digest them. For instance, celery has around 6 calories. But because of its rich dietary fiber content, your body tends to burn more than six calories in order to process the celery. In simpler words, negative calorie foods will allow you to burn calories without even hitting the gym.

One of the doctors defines these foods as “those that have a low glycemic index can be called negative calorie foods. High fiber foods fulfill two purposes. Our body takes longer to flush out fiber from the body, hence they stay in the body and delay hunger. And secondly, these zero calorie foods release sugar slowly and so, the incidence of it turning into fat is low”.

Do Negative Calorie Foods Exist?

No. Though it’s true that most of these foods are nutritious, it’s likely that none of them are negative-calorie. Each of these has calories and there is no evidence whatsoever to back the view that they need more energy to eat, digest and process than they give. To reap its benefits, it is important to know how it works.

Calories used to Chew Food

Negative calorie foods are rife with dietary fiber and take more time to chew which helps burn calories.
Most people wonder if the energy spent during chewing could help in a food being negative-calorie.
Research has shown that chewing gum increases the energy your body expends by 11 calories per hour.
Therefore, the amount of energy you use during a few minutes of chewing celery or other foods is probably very small and relatively unimportant.

Calories used to Digest Food

Foods abundant with dietary fiber are difficult to break down, which is why the stomach has to work extra hard in burning more calories in order to make sure that food is easily absorbed.
While your body uses calories to process foods, the number of calories used is less than the calories foods provide.

In fact, the amount of energy your body uses to process foods is commonly determined by a percentage of the calories you eat and is estimated separately for carbs, fats, and proteins.
For instance, the energy expended to process foods is about 5–10% of the calories the food contains for carbs, 0–5% for fat and 20–30% for protein.

Negative Calorie Food List

  • Celery: 14 calories per cup (100 grams), 95% water
  • Broccoli: 31 calories per cup (90 grams), 89% water
  • Watermelon: 46 calories per cup (150 grams), 91% water
  • Grapefruit: 69 calories per cup (230 grams), 92% water
  • Zucchini: 21 calories per cup (124 gm)
  • Carrots: 52 calories per cup (130 grams), 88% water
  • Tomatoes: 32 calories per cup (180 grams), 94% water
  • Lettuce: 5 calories per cup (35 grams), 95% water
  • Cucumbers: 8 calories per cup (50 grams), 95% water
  • Apples: 53 calories per cup (110 grams), 86% water

Other Foods You May Consume


Spinach, cabbage, kale, scallions, potatoes (with skin), chard, radish greens, okra, eggplant, and French beans.


Berries, apple, lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine.


Skinless chicken breast, mushrooms, fish, pork, eggs, lentils and beans, soybean, soy chunks, and tofu.


Olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Sample Negative Calorie Diet Plan

Meals What to Eat
Breakfast (8:30-9 a.m.) 1 bowl of oatmeal with berries and nuts with 1 cup of green tea
Snack (10:30 a.m.) 1 cucumber
Lunch (12:30-1 p.m.) 1 cup sauteed mushroom+½ cup lettuce + 1 stalk of celery + 1/4 cup tomato + spinach + olive oil dressing
Snack (4 p.m.) 1 cup of green tea with a biscuit
Dinner (8 p.m.) Veggies with chicken or lentil soup

Foods To Avoid

  • Fried chicken
  • Fries
  • Frozen pizza
  • Canned foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Refined flour and sugar
  • Salami and sausage
  • Overused oil or overheated oil

Benefits of a Negative Calorie Diet

Needless to say, there are many health benefits of losing weight and bringing your BMI back to the normal range, i.e. between 18-25. Following are the health benefits of consuming healthy, negative calorie foods:

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Burns fat and helps lose weight
  • Improves digestion and may prevent constipation
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes
  • Lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Prevent and fight various cancers
  • Help improve your mood


Thus, negative calorie foods can be of huge help. They are plant-derived foods that are rich in water content and fiber like grains, legumes, veggies, fruits except for avocados and olives. Like we mentioned, your body takes a longer time to burn off fibrous foods, your metabolism boosts up, thereby giving you a headstart in your weight loss endeavors.

Read Next: 10 Low-Calorie Foods That Will Fill You Up!!

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