Losing weight while eating is everyone's dream. Is maintaining your body weight or counteracting overweight without dietary sacrifices a dream or reality? In recent times we hear more and more often about foods with negative calories, the consumption of which would lead to weight loss. But is it really so? Let's try to shed some light on this aspect.
Negative calorie food, what is it
Negative calorie foods are foods that, in theory, bring few calories and whose digestion makes you spend more energy than has been stored, in short, they are foods that, if eaten, would help lose weight. Foods of this type are considered to be all those rich in fiber and water and low in fat such as celery, which always appears in the top position in all the lists of negative calorie foods proposed (Buddemeyer et al, Biorxiv, 2019). Then follow cauliflower, cucumbers, lettuce, radicchio, spinach, broccoli, turnips, green beans, apples and chilli.
Negative calorie foods, do they really help lose weight? Do they have any risks?
There are few studies on this but these greatly diminish the fame that negative calorie foods have acquired in recent times. In particular, a study showed that it is not true that the digestion of these foods requires more energy than was put into the body (Buddemeyer et al, Biorxiv, 2019). Not only that, a diet based on negative calorie foods is no more effective than a low calorie diet, combined in both cases with moderate exercise. In fact, as scientific studies have shown, both diets have led to a reduction in body weight. However, only the low calorie diet improved the ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol, which is considered a valid indicator of cardiovascular risk. In fact, this type of diet, combined with physical exercise, has been shown to increase the good cholesterol more than the diet based only on foods with negative calories. It should be added, then, that a diet that includes only negative calorie foods is also unbalanced. In fact, as reported by studies, fats are not to be demonized as, if taken in moderation, they are very important for health, being involved in the processes of cell membrane formation and ensuring the presence of vitamins such as A and E. On the other hand, a diet based on foods with negative calories provides a quantity of fat far below the recommended values. In addition, a diet of this type is excessively rich in fiber, causing, as a consequence, a reduction in the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium, as well as gastrointestinal problems, such as flatulence and bloating (Rezaeipour et al, Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences, 2022).
The healthy lifestyle that makes you lose weight
So, negative calorie foods aren't so powerful for weight loss. They are healthy, yes, and capable of providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances, but they should be included in a healthy and varied diet, without excesses, which also includes sources of fats such as extra virgin olive oil or dried fruit. Not only that, physical exercise is also important, which, when combined with a balanced diet, increases the good HDL cholesterol with protective effects on the heart. Then, as indicated by the experts, for a diet that helps to combat overweight, it is important to choose whole foods, such as unrefined flour, brown rice and whole grains (Wu et al, World J Diabetes, 2020). Finally, spices such as cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, pepper, saffron, onion and turmeric have been shown to help control body weight by reducing the accumulation of lipids in fat cells, regulating fat formation and stimulating energy requirement (Lu et al, Food Funct, 2018).