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Negative-calorie foods: Diet gimmick or weight-loss aid?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/negative-calorie-foods/AN02040
- With Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist
Donald Hensrud, M.D.read biographyclose window
Donald Hensrud, M.D.Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.
Dr. Donald D. Hensrud is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine with a joint appointment in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition at Mayo Clinic. He is an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Dr. Hensrud directed the Executive Health Program at Mayo Clinic for more than 10 years.
He received his B.S. from the University of North Dakota, M.D. from the University of Hawaii, M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota and M.S. in nutrition sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic and completed a clinical nutrition fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Hensrud is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, of which he is a past president.
His career interests have combined nutrition, weight management, and prevention. He is the author of many scientific articles and book chapters and was editor of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody; The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, which won a 2005 James Beard Foundation award; The Mayo Clinic Plan: 10 Essential Steps to a Better Body & Healthier Life; and The Mayo Clinic Diet, published in January 2010.
Dr. Hensrud says healthy lifestyle habits in diet and physical activity are extremely important as evidenced by a large body of scientific evidence. He also says implementing these lifestyle habits is realistic, sustainable and enjoyable. A primary goal of his work is to help people achieve this.
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Negative-calorie foods: Diet gimmick or weight-loss aid?
I've heard that eating negative-calorie foods might be a good diet strategy. But what exactly are they?
from Donald Hensrud, M.D.
The Internet abounds with lists of purported negative-calorie foods — foods that supposedly take more energy to digest than they provide in calories. Many of these foods are vegetables and fruits, which can be part of an overall healthy diet plan. But they're probably not negative-calorie.
The theory is that you can lose weight by eating lots of these negative-calorie foods. Celery is a commonly cited example because it's mainly water and fiber. Proponents claim that you will burn more calories digesting celery than it contains, for a net loss.
Here's the reality. Throughout the day, about 5 to 10 percent of your total energy expenditure goes to digest and store the nutrients in the food you eat. Foods that contain few calories, such as celery and other nonstarchy vegetables, provide a small number of calories but still require energy to digest. That means it is theoretically possible to have a negative-calorie food, but there are no reputable scientific studies to prove that certain foods have this effect.
The bottom line: Following extreme diets that promote eating only a few foods can cause you to miss out on important nutrients. The key to successful weight loss is adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.Next question
Weight loss: Better to cut calories or exercise more?
- About the buzz: Some foods have a negative calorie effect. Produce for Better Health Foundation. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/some-foods-have-a-negative-calorie-effect. Accessed April 11, 2012.
- Duyff RL. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012:28.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 12, 2012.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed April 3, 2012.
- Bray GA, et al. Pathogenesis of obesity. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 3, 2012.