By Anupum Pant
I have never felt the necessity to pay attention to diet related news/facts till date (now I do).
So, never in my life had I read the phrase “negative calorie foods”, until yesterday, when a friend posted the following “WTF fact” on Facebook:
Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it.
BS! I cried, and like with everything I read on the internet, I was skeptical about this too. Hence, I decided to investigate. Here is what I found out.
Negative Calories in theory
Theoretically, it is indeed possible for edible items to be negative calorie foods. It works this way.
The body takes more calories to process a negative calorie food item than it (the food item) provides to the body. That basically means that you can sit all day, eat celery, fill your tummy and still keep losing weight. Sounds too good to be true. Exactly!
It has been proved once and again that the number of calories your body burns while processing food is tiny when compared with the calories in that food item. So, scientists haven’t yet found a truly “negative calorie” food item.
For instance, a stalk of celery provides 6 calories to the body, but the body expends only half of a single calorie digesting it. That is +five and half calories. As expected, It isn’t negative. In fact, none of the foods advertised have been conclusively proved as actually negative calorie foods. Except one, which again, isn’t really food.
Ice cold water is the only known negative calorie thing you can ingest. It needs more amount of calories to get processed in the body than it give the body. Most of this energy expended by the body goes into warming up the ice-cold water.
Celery is still good
However, that doesn’t mean celery is not a healthy food item. When compared to other greasy things you could ingest, celery of course is a good alternative (if you are looking to eat healthy). In terms of calorie intake, you’ll be doing great by eating a lot of celery to fill your stomach. But, positive calories mean that you’ll not lose weight unless you get moving. No wonder, virtually every dietitian has a load of celery mentioned in his/her diet plan.
Also, note that, while it is a good food, it isn’t something you could survive on. If you are thinking of trying an only-celery diet, you should know that you’ll be depriving your body of several necessary nutrients by trying that. Consult an informed nutritionist before trying a diet plan.
Finding an informed Nutritionist
To confirm if it is a good nutritionist you are talking to, you could probably test them by innocently inquiring if celery is a negative calorie food item or not. If he/she LOLs and tells you that it is a myth, it would be a good idea to go to them for diet plans.