This is a recurring subject in the area of dieting and slimming tips. We’re talking aboutfood “with negative calories” to evoke foods that would provide fewer calories than it takes to digest them. These are foods rich in water and fiber, such as celery, lettuce, grapefruit, cucumber and even broccoli.
Unfortunately for aficionados of tips from weightloss, this type of food is a pure myth, according to a new scientific study available on the site BioRxiv and subject to publication in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Researchers at the University of Alabama focused here on the celery, because it is one of the main foods known for this supposed property.
They proposed to lizards a diet composed entirely of celery, then measured the number of calories potentially lost, via digestion (observation of metabolism) and via excrement (analysis of faecal and urinary matter).
Result: lizards have on average stored a quarter of the calories consumed during celery-based meals. In other words, they not burned more calories than they stored. A third of the calories were needed for digestion, 43% was excreted via the urine or stool, and the remaining 24% was stored and used by lizards. Celery is therefore not strictly speaking a “negative calorie” food.
The researchers used lizards here because they would actually have a digestive system quite similar to ours, in addition to the fact that they appreciate celery.
If scientists here dismantle the myth of so-called “negative calorie” foods, they add however that celery, like other foods affiliated with this category, is low in calories. If you consume it regularly, in addition to a balanced diet and a healthy and sporty lifestyle, you can actually end up with a negative calorie budget : having burned in a day more than what we have assimilated through food. A calorie deficit that can result in weight loss if continued over time.
“Rather than labeling these foods as ‘negative calorie’, it would be more correct to present them as [pouvant aboutir à ] a négatif negative budget ’: [des aliments] whose consumption would promote a daily negative energy balance, and therefore weight loss via the catabolism of body fat”, Conclude the researchers.
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