Zero Calorie Foods: Super Foods or Myths?


You know what really grinds my gears? Lately, I’ve had a lot of “Negative Calorie” or “Zero Calorie” Food Lists popping up on my Pinterest. Can we please talk about this for a minute? Allegedly, they are foods which require more calories to burn than they actually contain. So, basically, if you eat a bunch of celery, it will negate the pizza you just ate? That would be awesome right? Unfortunately, many of the “zero” or low calorie foods on the lists I am seeing are not guilt free at all! Check it out ——————> Sure, cucumbers are relatively guilt free. Celery is too. Oranges and apples on the other hand? They are loaded with sugar and are not by any means  “calorie free” or  “guilt free”. A large (~3” in diameter) orange has 87 calories in it and 17g of sugar. A large (~3” in diameter) Macintosh Apple has 116 calories in it and 23 grams of sugar. Not exactly “calorie free.” Does that mean they are bad for you? Absolutely not! They simply need to be counted if you are watching what you eat; and it’s certainly not advisable for you to eat them indiscriminately. There are so many flaws with this logic, not the least of which being, there is no scientific evidence to prove that zero calorie foods actually exist. Heather Doran of Happy Science  and Dr. Stuart Farrimond of Dr. Stu’s Science Blog, both wrote great blog entries about this very topic. Dr Stu is a former hospital doctor, turned lecturer and Heather, at the time of writing said entry, was working on her PhD thesis in Molecular Pharmacology. They may not be nutritionists, but they are better credentialed than the random nameless, faceless pictures floating around the internet with no science, research, or accountability behind them. Both authors provide research that confirms that some foods generally do require more calories to breakdown than others. Unfortunately, most of these foods are high in protein such as dairy or meat, so that eliminates any possibility you’ll expend more energy burning them than they would provide your body. What they are saying specifically is that low calorie, high fiber foods (such as celery) actually require LESS energy to digest. While there are several factors that determine how many calories are burned in digestion, you’d be better off just eating clean, sticking to a meal plan and if you are tying to lose weight don’t consume more calories than you burn.

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