What is a Negative Calorie Diet And is it Healthy?

negativecaloriedietIn the dieting world, there’s a theory that says that there are foods which contain a small amount of calories, but when eaten actually take more calories to burn in the body. This is called the negative calorie and there are many people who want to know if there is a plan behind it and if it’s healthy to do. There is, but it might not be an ideal plan.

Pro: If you just eat negative calorie foods, you’re going to lose weight.

I’ve never found any specific scientific study that proves negative calories are real, just theories, but there’s no arguing that if you eat less calories, you will lose weight. So if you eat things like celery, cabbage, just about most vegetables and fruits which are considered negative calorie foods, you will lose weight. 

Con: Only eating low calorie foods can be dangerous and unhealthy.

Can you really imagine yourself living of only negative calorie foods? Even if the theory is true, that would mean you would have a negative amount of calories coming into your body everyday and the negative balance would make you feel pretty miserable. 

If the theory isn’t true and there is no such thing, you’re still not getting the amount of calories your body needs daily to survive. In order to find out how many calories you need everyday, you will have to know your BMR first. 

If you have a lot of stored fat in your body, it is true that even if you get less calories than you need, your body will burn the fat deposits to make up for it, but with this style of dieting which is very similar to low carb, if you try to completely eliminate high calorie foods with low calorie ones, there’s more chances that you will fail the diet. It’s almost like starving and if it’s not something you’re used to doing, it’s going to be very tough to stick to. 

What does science say about this?

Many scientific studies have not proven that the negative calorie is real, but they also don’t say it’s impossible and that it may exist. Most of the hype behind the negative calorie diet really comes from the name itself, but if you look at the whole idea behind this theory, it’s probably not possible to live on this sort of diet plan. Lose weight? Yes, but live of, no. 

Combine low calorie foods with high satiety and you have a better plan:

If starving and eating things that leave your body malnourished is what may happen under a negative calorie diet, the better plan would be to avoid that stuff but also lose weight. Taking better eating and exercising out of the way (everyone should be doing that to lose weight), you should eat high satiety foods with low calories.

Those types of foods do have low calories, not as low as typical negative calorie foods, but they make you feel more satisfied and it’s going to be easier to diet while eating them. You shouldn’t do crazy workouts which eating them because putting out too much energy and burning much more calories than you’re putting in can be dangerous, but if you just focus on the diet part, this is going to help you start losing weight and avoid the feeling of starvation.

Learn about high satiety foods.

Even if negative calories are proven to be true, it shouldn’t be a theory that you take all the way, by dropping everything you’re eating and drinking and just eating those types of foods. There’s no way the body is going to have the energy it needs to function. You may lose weight, but along with that, you’re also going to lose a lot of health.

Diets should be done with comfort and balance. If you try to lose weight quickly with most crash diets which the negative calorie one is technically one of, the reaction to doing that will probably be worse. The faster you lose weight, usually the faster you’ll gain it back. 

4 thoughts on “What is a Negative Calorie Diet And is it Healthy?”

  1. This is an interesting idea here. I definitely believe if you include foods with negative calories in your consumption plan with other foods rich in the necessities such as protein it would benefit weight loss dramatically. I am looking forward to putting this theory to the test,

    Thanks for the info,


  2. I love the idea of negative calorie — if only it applied to the things we love to eat, right? In all seriousness, I do believe diets should be done with in moderation with nutritional balance. I personally don’t like to use the term ‘diet’, I usually say ‘way of eating’, I think it implies a more permanent notion. Negative calorie foods do lack nutrients needed for a body’s daily needs, so I agree that it’s not the best way to approach weight loss. Again, it’s not a way of eating, but rather a temporary fix.

  3. When I began working out I used to fall for this negative calorie diet theory, I thought these kind of foods would be enough to workout properly and get fit in no time.

    I was so wrong, on top of that I was a thin person so with such a low amount of energy from my meals and excersise i ended almost passing out a few times until i did some research on my own to find out how bad i was doing things.

    What kind of meals would you recommend to balance health and weight issues?

    Great article as it may prevent people from making unnecessary mistakes.

    • Determine your BMR level first Alan. When you do, use that number to represent how many calories a day you can eat, but this should only be on non-workout days.

      For workout days, determine the type of exercise you’re going to be doing. The harder the exercise and more calories burned, the more you are allowed to eat to help the body compensate for the lost calories. Cardio workouts should be accompanied by more carb focused meals. Strength workouts should be accompanied by more protein focused meals. Don’t eat until you can’t eat anymore.


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