All that crunching and chewing takes work— but enough labor to negate the calories of the food consumed? That’s the rumor going around the lunch table. We asked our Nutrition Expert Lisa Moskovitz to weigh in on these magical, negative calorie foods.

Expert's Take

Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN: A basic rule of nutrition is "if it sounds too good to be true, it is." The rumor about negative calorie foods is based off the idea that the body burns more calories to digest a food than it actually contains. So, to eat 20 calories worth of veggies the body uses over 30 calories for digestion which means there’s a deficit of 10 calories, right? Unfortunately, no.

The truth is that while some foods, such as celery stalks which are very low in energy (14 calories/cup), may produce a negative calorie balance, the amount is negligible. And there’s also the fact that eating celery all day won't be doing the body any favors. At the end of the day, you'll likely be left ravenous, desperately seeking the most calorie-filled food around. Did someone say ice cream?

Bottom line, if the goal is to lose weight, try a more effective and sustainable approach. Fiber is zero calories and non-digestible. It’s found mostly in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans. Incorporating plenty of high-fiber foods into the diet leads to feelings of fullness on the fewest calories possible.

Here are some effortless ways to incorporate more fiber:

  • Instead of a banana, grab an apple:

Apples pack in 4 more grams of fiber than bananas, which only have 1g. Apples also make great on-the-go snacks to stave off hunger during long commutes.

  • Choose beans over a baked potato:

Beans provide 5 more grams of fiber per ½ cup serving than potatoes. They also contain protein and iron which rev up the metabolism.

  • Snack on popcorn, not Popchips:

Air-popped popcorn clocks in at just 100 calories and a whopping 5g of fiber for 3 whole cups. Popchips are basically fiber-free and 3 times the calories for the same serving size.

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