The Myth of Negative Calorie Foods

The Myth of Negative Calorie Foods

2021-04-07 21:50:00
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Many of us are hoping to lose maybe a few of the pounds we gained during the pandemic. Achieving this largely depends on whether we burn more calories than we consume – it's a simple comparison between input and output. Science is quite convincing of that diet is much more successful than exercise

For instance, a 2017 study followed 14 contestants on the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" for six years and found no relationship between those who exercised more and those who lost the most weight. That's not to say exercise isn't important for a whole host of other health problems of such to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetesis unlikely to result in weight loss compared to diet.

With that in mind, foods with negative calories are often touted as a way to play the system and trick your body into losing weight, but what are they? Do they work? And do they even exist?

The concept of negative calorie foods is quite simple: they should be so low in calories that your body spends more energy chewing and digesting them than it could ever get out of them. Celery and apples are often pushed as examples and it is certainly true that they are low in calories. One stalk contains celery only six caloriesNor is it difficult to find websites willing to make more powerful claims, some of them in fact tout negative calorie recipes for deserts

"I did a quick Google search and you can find people selling low and negative calorie brownies, which just can't be true." says Don Hensrud, associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic. "There really is no scientific evidence for high-calorie foods."

Why there is no such thing as a calorie-free lunch

There are essentially three ways the human body spends its energy, says Hensrud. The first is basic metabolism, that is, the energy the body uses for its normal functioning at rest. This consumes the vast majority of a person's calorie expenditure – as much as 80 percent – and we have absolutely no control over whether we are blessed with a so-called & # 39; fast metabolism & # 39; which uses a lot of energy or a & # 39; slow metabolism & # 39; 39 ;. metabolism ”, which consumes relatively fewer calories. A second way in which the body burns energy is through physical activity. The third way is to break down food and absorb nutrients. "It accounts for about 5 percent of the calories consumed," says Hensrud. "But even with low-calorie foods, it will never be more than the calories in the food."

A few decades ago, there was a related fad where proponents claimed that drinking lots of ice water increased calories burned, Hensrud explains. "Cold water affects the body's calorie expenditure because it has to generate heat to counteract it when you ingest it and that's technically true, but it misses the point completely because the effect is so negligible that it becomes irrelevant."

These kinds of eating habits do more harm than good, Hensrud says, potentially fooling people into not making major lifestyle changes, such as significantly reducing the amount of processed foods they eat. Who wouldn't imagine that eating a few stalks of celery will undo the damage of a double cheeseburger and fries? “There are so many different diets because people want to believe in easy fixes,” he says. "You can look at diets in the US for several decades and most of them are 'out of here today and tomorrow' because they don't work in the long run."

The data supports him of this; the popularity of food trends seems to vary with time.

In a study from 2020, Mikołaj Kamiński, a researcher at Pomeranian Medical University in Poland, used Google Trends to gauge public interest in different types of diets and nutrition trends between 2004 and 2019. He included gluten-free, ketogenic, low-carb, and high-calorie nutritional diets in the study.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the popularity of all diets tends to decline before Christmas and then rise to a peak when people make New Year's resolutions. But over time, interest in many of these diets and trends has varied so widely that Kamiński and his colleagues concluded that they were "fad patterns". exhibit.

Their analysis also found that interest in negative calorie foods is strongest in the United States, followed by Australia and Canada, but the general interest in these foods has actually declined rapidly in recent years. Kamiński's findings could prove that diets are subject to fashionable whims, but, "We don't know the exact cause of the changes in interest in the diets analyzed," he admits.

Rather than engaging in the latest nutritional trend, people should focus more on providing a balanced diet that they can maintain for a longer period of time, says Hensrud. “A few thousand years ago, the person who ate the most and did the least was more likely to survive, so we have these drives within us that were useful in the past, but we must try to outsmart environment has changed. "


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