Myths are common in the food and nutrition world, and can spread quickly, leading to a misinformed public. One topic of interest within the general public is weight loss, and a long-lasting myth is that of “negative-calories”. Negative calories is an idea that certain foods will help with weight loss, even when consumed in unlimited portions, due to the negligible number of calories (thought to be quickly burned by chewing, digesting and absorbing the nutritional content) while also boosting your metabolism after eating, ultimately causing weight loss. Yes, this for anyone sounds extremely enticing, an idea I for one would love to believe, but there is no evidence of support. Even though some foods, say lettuce or cucumbers, have a low number of calories, they still count towards your daily caloric intake. To challenge the myth, all you need to know are some basic facts about metabolism. Our bodies burn calories at rest, a function called our basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which fluctuates between each person and depends on factors such as height, weight or age. Next is the thermic effect of food, the energy exerted to chew, digest and store nutrients. Our bodies burn the least amount of calories during these two acts, therefore, despite a small rise in our metabolism after eating, even extremely low-calorie foods cannot be expected to cause weight loss. Research has yet to be done specifically on negative calories, but for now, facts of metabolism seem to debunk this myth.
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