Negative-calorie diets have been seen as controversial in the past because it has not been proven that these diets can cause significant weight loss. However, if you replace unhealthy foods in your diet with healthier choices, you can only feel better – so why not eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet anyway?
Why Choose a Negative-Calorie Diet?
The best part of a negative-calorie diet is that you are adding foods to your diet that are already healthy, rather than eating foods that are sold as “part of a diet,” like shakes, energy bars, or other kinds of snacks that are made up of ingredients that you don’t know whether or not you can trust.
When you eat negative-calorie foods, your body ends up burning more calories to digest them than are actually in the foods themselves. This process is called the “negative caloric effect.” Negative-calorie foods are foods that have a naturally low glycemic index – this means that once your body burns off these foods, it still needs more calories to keep going. That’s when your body taps into your fat stores, and that’s when you start to lose weight.
Negative-calorie foods are also usually higher in fiber, so you should end up feeling fuller longer after eating them. You may find that you don’t need that mid-morning snack or a quick bite to get you through until dinner, and because you are eating less overall, then this also causes you to lose weight.
When you eat negative-calorie foods that are healthier for you, then you can enjoy the added benefits that come from eating better, like shinier hair, stronger nails and bones, and a happier outlook on life. You will be giving your immune system the vitamins and minerals it needs in order to fight off infection, and you will also lower your blood-sugar levels, which can help you avoid getting diabetes and certain cancers.
Eating healthier can also boost your metabolism, so you might find that you are more excited about exercising because of your increased energy level. Some additional benefits of negative-calorie foods include:
- They act as diuretics, reducing the amount of excess water in the body.
- They improve digestion by cleansing the colon and liver and helping the liver to burn fat more efficiently.
- They can help you sleep better (for instance, eating a cucumber and tomato salad before bed, rather than a bowl of ice cream, can fill you up without making you feel wired, so it’s easier for you to fall asleep).
- You can enjoy them without the guilt that you might feel from indulging in a bag of chips or the occasional candy bar.
Now that you know how beneficial negative-calorie foods can be to your health, let’s take a look at the complete list of these negative-calorie foods, broken down by category.
While vegetables are generally considered to be healthy, and while they don’t contain the empty calories that you get from cake or pizza, there are some vegetables that are better for you than others. Here is a complete list of negative-calorie vegetables that you can pair with your next meal:
- Bean sprouts
- Beets and beet greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage (Chinese, red, etc.)
- Green beans
- Peppers (red, green, yellow)
- String beans
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
Fruits are in the same boat as vegetables in that they are generally considered to be healthy, and that it is a better idea to grab a handful of grapes, rather than a handful of candies, but there are better choices available when it comes to eating fruit as well, since some fruits are higher in sugar (and, of course, calories) than others. Here are some negative-calorie fruits that you can add to your diet:
- Honeydew melon
- Damson plum
When it comes to what you put into your mouth, even herbs and spices can have an effect on your health. Here is a list of negative-calorie herbs and spices that you may want to “pepper” into your next dish:
- Chili pepper
- Fennel seeds
- Flax seeds
- Garden cressMustard seeds
Red meat can be bad for you, but you do not have to sacrifice eating meat entirely in order to be healthy. There are actually several negative-calorie types of meat out there, though a majority of them are fish. So if you are allergic to fish, or if you are not a fan, you might want to consider keeping reasonable portions of chicken and meat in your diet.
Fish must also be eaten in moderation as well, since eating too much of it can lead to a build-up of mercury in your system. Here are the negative-calorie meats that you can eat, instead of steak or a hamburger:
- Oysters (half-shell)
- Buffalo fish
- Cod steaks
- Frog legs
Risks and Downsides
So now that you know what to eat, it is important to understand how you should eat them, since how you prepare certain foods can actually make them less healthy. And if you end up making the food unhealthy in the end, then it’s not even worth substituting it for another food choice.
The best way to eat negative-calorie vegetables, for example, is to eat them either raw or slightly steamed. Boiling vegetables, a common cooking method, can strip them of the very nutrients that make them so good for you.
Also, and this is a big one, you must not combine your negative-calorie foods with junk food in an attempt to make them taste better. So, no, you should not be dipping your broccoli into sour cream or butter, or drizzling your strawberries with whipped cream or chocolate (as delicious as those ideas might sound).
Consider adding one (or many) of the negative-calorie herbs and spices listed above to your meal. If your fruit needs an extra kick, maybe try combining several negative-calorie fruits into a fruit salad dish, or you could spritz them with the juice of another negative-calorie fruit. You can also combine fruits with leafy greens to turn what may otherwise be a boring salad into a zestier meal.
Have you noticed what is actually missing from a negative-calorie diet? The answer is dairy. Many negative-calorie foods are great sources of calcium, but if you choose not to eat any of those foods – and if you avoid eating dairy in order to lose weight – then you could end up with a calcium deficit, which can lead to health problems like osteoporosis or rickets. You may want to consider adding calcium supplements to your diet in order to make up for loss if you so choose.
The important thing to remember is everything in moderation. Eating too much of a good thing can still be bad for you, like the mercury example. Also, eating a lot of one food in particular, like acidic foods like grapefruits, can cause a build-up of that chemical in your body, and that can eventually affect how your stomach and other organs function and can upset digestion.
Fat is another example of something that you actually need to have in your diet. Fat takes a beating in the weight-loss world, but as long as it is eaten in moderation, fat is actually very important to have in every diet.
Eating protein is also necessary for a healthy diet, so you need to make sure that you are getting enough of both fat and protein. You can also take supplements for protein, if necessary.
It’s easy to get carried away with a diet, so it is important to remember that you should not be eating only negative-calorie foods. You could end up suffering from malnutrition as a result of your body not getting the right number of calories that it needs in order to survive.
You should also be careful of any diets that can guarantee that you’ll lose a specific number of pounds within a specific amount of time. Everyone is different, and everyone eats differently, so what you eat may have a different reaction on your body than if someone else eats the same food.
For example, some people swear that drinking green tea leads to weight loss while others see no difference in the number on the scale after adding green tea to their diets.
It is strongly advised that no matter what diet appeals to you, you should always seek a medical professional’s opinion before you start. You need to make sure that the diet you are about to start is right for your body.
What works for someone else might not work for you but, more importantly, you also need to find out whether or not you have any underlying medical issues that could be made worse by starting a new diet.