That reminded me of the many stupid things personal trainers do, such as having clients stand on dumbbells (I swear I saw this once), and recommending so-called “negative calorie foods for fat loss”.
You may have stumbled across the phrase, negative calorie food in your search for dietary loopholes and excuse makers. Here’s the theory…some poor, misinformed folks believe that there are certain foods which require more calories to chew, digest, and absorb than the food contains. I know, ridiculous, isn’t it?
The list of negative calorie foods on some websites has included everything from celery (the most commonly cited “negative calorie food”) to apples and even bananas. How this makes any sense is beyond my little brain’s capacity to understand.
Let’s just play along for a second. If there really were such things as negative calorie foods, all the bunnies in the world would be dead. And who wants that? (Especially with Easter on the way.)
Seriously, if it cost more energy to chew, digest, and absorb celery (or carrots or any other vegetable), every single little cute vegetarian bunny (all other animals that subsist on “negative calorie vegetation”) would be dead of starvation.
Here’s another way of looking at it. Let’s say I was stranded on a deserted island and all I had to eat was an endless amount of apples. All the apples I could possibly want.
Now let’s also say that apples truly are a negative calorie food, meaning that each time I eat an apple it uses up more calories in mastication (fancy word for chewing), digestion (fancy word for turning apple pieces into intestinal mush), and absorption (fancy word for saying “getting the nutrient mush from the intestine into your bloodstream”), than the apple contains.
Guess what happens?
The more apples I eat, the faster I die (because each apple takes energy FROM my body, rather than giving energy TO my body). And you could substitute in celery, lettuce, whatever. If all you ate were negative calorie foods, you’d actually die of starvation.
Anyone still believe in negative calorie foods? (Remember, if you do, you’re a BUNNY KILLER!)
Alright, last example. If bananas were really a negative calorie food, someone forgot to tell the 800 pound gorillas at the zoo. (Okay, I know they eat bugs and stuff too. That was a bit of a joke. Hopefully you still didn’t need more convincing.)
Alright, so what about the stats. You still have hope deep inside that celery is a negative calorie food, right? Well, 1 cup of celery is about 19 calories. A lot of volume for a very small amount of calories. Looks promising, right? That will take a lotta chewing, you think. Craig must be wrong!
Nope. Me not wrong. And just to prove it to you, I want you you to get up and run as fast as you can for a minute. Go ahead, get up, sprint your brains out up and down the aisle at work between the cubicles, like you were doing a crazy Turbulence Training fat loss interval. Don’t forget to dodge the mailboy. Or not. Whatever.
You back? Okay. At most, you just burned 16 calories. Sixteen calories per minute of sprinting your brains out, using most of the muscle mass in your body. Sixteen calories exercising at a 90-100% intensity level.
Now go chew some celery.That’s about 0.005% intensity level. You’d be lucky if you burned ONE extra calorie chewing a cup of celery, let alone 19.
Bottom line: There just ain’t no such things as negative calorie foods. Sorry.
But hey, at least you got one interval done!
And hey, if you don’t want to sprint, you can watch me run here:
Helping you discover the truth about fat loss,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS