Type the word negative calories and the internet pops up with numerous sites on foods that have negative calories – meaning the energy that they take to chew, digest and absorb is more than the energy that they provide. Amongst the various foods, celery is the food that takes away the cake. Because it is mainly water and fibre, it is touted as the best aid in weight loss as it takes more calories to digest celery than what it provides. And this theory is sold with conviction to all those who want to desperately shed off the extra pounds. Eating the so called negative calorie foods will help to melt away the body pounds that we soo eagerly wish to shed away without any exercises or diets.
So how do you explain this process?
Our body has a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) because of which it burns calories even while at rest. BMR is the minimum amount of energy your body would need to function that includes breathing, beating of your heart, digestion of food, etc. But the reality is that throughout the day only about 5 to 10 percent of your total energy expenditure goes in chewing, digesting and absorbing the food that you eat which is a very small amount. And in addition to this, being overweight, obese and sedentary, decreases the efficiency of this process. So, even if you have the very low calorie foods like celery, cucumbers, lettuce and onions that are mostly fibre and water, do not expect it to result in weight loss as only a very tiny proportion of the total energy is used in digestion. If at all weight loss occurs, it would be because they satisfy hunger due to their high fibre and water content.
So, should you focus on the low calorie foods at all times?
The answer is NO. Although these foods can help keep you stay full and away from taking in the extra calories on their own, they are not nutritionally sound. They lack in many important nutrients that your body needs. Hence they cannot help sustain good health for a long time.
The right approach to any weight loss plan would be to shift the focus from individual foods to foods that form the basis of a balanced diet along with changes in the lifestyle and engaging in an exercise regime. It is a proven fact that eating a plant based diet has numerous health benefits including helping you keep to your target weight. Focus on eating foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds and reduce the consumption of animal based foods.
So, a celery may not help you lose weight or burn the fat but nonetheless it is healthy! Finally, there is no magic bullet to weight loss. The only way to do so is make sure that you take in lesser calories than what you would burn through exercise and not digestion.