What are Negative Calorie Foods?

raw food for weight management-Negative calorie foods


Negative calorie foods are very low calorie foods that require more energy to digest than they provide. However, there are no foods that contain negative calories.


  • No foods actually cause net negative calories. The concept refers to foods so low in energy and high in fiber that the thermic effect of food is believed to burn more than the food provides.
  • Examples of the mythic “negative calorie foods” include celery, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, grapefruit, apples, berries, and more. But they still contain some calories.
  • While the thermic effect may slightly exceed calories, the net effect is still positive energy balance. The myth distorts their impact on caloric expenditure.
  • Focus instead on the nutritional value, satiety and hydration these low calorie fruits and vegetables provide. Any calories burned are a minor bonus.


  • Believing you burn 150 calories digesting 200 calories worth of celery.
  • Overestimating calorie burn from metabolism boosting, low-calorie whole foods.

Related Terms

  • Calorie density, thermic effect of food, metabolism myths

Common Questions

  • Can I eat unlimited negative calorie foods? No foods have zero or negative net calories, so unlimited eating promotes weight gain.
  • Is this concept backed by science? No, it’s an exaggeration not supported by research. Focus instead on the health benefits of low-calorie foods.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Empty calories – Highly processed junk foods with calories but minimal nutrition.
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