Negative calorie foods and Fat Burning Foods are hot topics these days. In fact, several of the most popular commercial diets incorporate these types of foods into their eating plans. Why? Because, for the most part, they’re some of the healthiest – and most fat loss-conducive – foods you can eat: high-fiber, high-water-content (‘watery’) carbs and low-fat proteins.
Negative Calorie Foods
These days, we hear a lot about “negative calorie foods” – often considered a ‘subset’ of fat burning foods – which are purported to make the body use up more calories in the process of digesting them than the foods themselves actually contain. Apparently, eating these special foods creates the calorie-deficit necessary for weight loss without the ‘hassle’ of exercise. Some people also claim that negative calorie foods contain a surplus of natural enzymes which may directly affect energy expenditure and body fat storage.
Certain foods have a strong metabolism-boosting impact when eaten. In one way or another, they speed up the rate at which your body burns calories and, hopefully, stored body fat. Some popular diets – especially low carb programs like Atkins and the South Beach Diet – are actually based around eating foods that could be considered fat-burning foods (which include most types of meat and vegetables).
So do They Work?
The obvious question is: do these negative calorie foods and fat-burning foods actually work? Will they help me lose weight? Burn fat? Look better? And, if so, which foods fall into this incredibly attractive category???
First of all, it’s important to realize that ALL foods burn calories to some degree. In fact, about 10-15% of all the calories you eat are used just in the digestion process. It’s hard work breaking food down, absorbing all the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc…. and then getting the unused portion out of the body. But, the point is, these foods aren’t ‘magical’ and most are foods you may already be eating anyway!
In terms of the negative calorie foods theory, here’s the real key: certain types of foods require a lot of energy (calories) to break down, absorb, and use inside of the body. Some of these foods contain very few overall calories and, therefore, may actually force the body to call upon its energy stores – in the form of stored glucose and fat – to finish ‘processing’ the food.
Obviously, any diet that involves eating only these types of foods (such as the very popular Negative Calorie Foods diet) will certainly lead to both quick and long-term weight loss. But, in reality, it may be difficult for many people to eat only negative calorie foods for more than a couple of weeks. Basically, even though these foods are almost all high-fiber and very, very healthy, they’re just not that ‘satisfying’ for many people, especially anyone used to a typical American diet. A negative calorie diet is probably best used as a healthy quick weight loss solution (much healthier than most diet pills!).
Here’s a short list of negative calorie foods (many of which are considered “fat burning foods” also):
Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Endive, Green Beans, Onion, Papaya, Radishes, Spinach, Zucchini
Apple, Blueberry, Cantaloupe, Cranberry, Grape Fruit, Honey Dew Melon, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry, Watermelon
Here are a few different categories of popular fat-burning foods that you can incorporate into your diet just about any time you want
Fat-burning breakfast foods:
Low-Fat Milk, Oatmeal, and Whole-Grain Cereal. The complex carbohydrates and fiber help to keep insulin levels in check, which prevents fat storage. The calcium in milk is considered a metabolism-booster because it directly affects the chemical & hormonal balance of the body.
Fat Burning Spicy Foods:
Jalapenos, Habaneros, Cayenne Peppers, and most other Chile peppers can all affect your metabolism by speeding up your heart rate. Studies have shown that eating a very spicy meal can actually speed up the metabolism by about 25%….for up to 3 hours!
Also, a recent study showed that men who drank coffee throughout the day and ate snacks containing red peppers burned almost 1000 more calories than a control group. (Note: many Chile peppers also fall into the negative calorie foods category.)
Fat Burning liquid foods:
Black Tea, Green Tea, Coffee, Yerba Mate. These drinks all contain caffeine and/or a chemical called EGCG, both of which directly affect metabolism.
Caffeine has been known to speed up the heart rate, affecting the body metabolism directly by freeing stored fatty acids and making them more readily available for energy-usage. EGCG, found in high concentrations in Green Tea (another negative calorie food) seems to speed up the brain and nervous system, helping you to burn significantly more calories.
Note: Caffeine and EGCG have both been shown to help you work out harder and longer!
Fat Burning meat foods:
Lean Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Buffalo, etc.
Research has shown that almost all lean meats speed up the body metabolism and, because they require so much energy for complete digestion, they tend to burn more fat in the process. Studies have also shown that people who follow a high-meat/high-protein diet burn twice as many calories.
AFTER a meal as people who follow a high-carbohydrate diet.
(Note: For the most part, only certain types of fish are considered to be negative calorie foods – most meat simply contains too many calories to fit the bill.)
Fat Burning fish foods:
Salmon, Tuna, and Sardines. These foods all contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which, besides being incredibly healthy, seems to have a strong effect on metabolism. Omega-3 fats (the healthiest of ‘good fats’) alters levels of a body hormone called leptin which directly influences metabolism and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Basically, the less leptin you have in your bloodstream the more calories you use for energy.
Cold-water fish and omega-3 oils like flax seed oil – which is definitely a strong fat-burning food – have been shown to significantly lower leptin levels and improve metabolism.
As you can see, there are many healthy and delicious foods which can be considered negative calorie foods and/or fat-burning foods. Whether you want to try eating these foods only in order to lose weight quickly (ala the Negative Calorie Diet) is up to you. But, regardless you should try to incorporate at least a few of them into your everyday diet. They all offer one or more significant health, fitness, and/or fat loss benefits!