You’ve probably known someone who consumed insane amounts of celery because digesting it required more calories than the food contained. However, the idea of “negative calorie foods” is nothing more than a myth, according to a new study published in a pre-print publication, bioRxiv.
In case you’re not familiar with the idea, some dieters believe that eating certain fibrous foods, like celery, lettuce, grapefruit, cucumber, and broccoli, burned more calories than the actual food themselves.
Although, medical experts advise against using this as a weight loss strategy, researchers at the University of Alabama debunked the myth with a scientific study in lizards. They found that the reptiles retained one-fourth of the calories from celery, meaning they did not in fact burn off more calories than the food contained. It’s worth nothing that the findings weren’t published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning outside researchers didn’t critique the strength of the study.
“Regardless of the [calories] in the food, you’re always going to be able to get something out of it,” study senior author Stephen Secor, professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama, told LiveScience. Although celery has a nominal amount of calories, eating only one food is not a good way to lose weight.
Previously, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietics debunked the idea of negative calorie foods by writing a post about metabolism. Essentially, your body is pretty efficient at digesting food. In fact, you only use about 5 to 15 percent of your daily calories to digest meals, meaning eating broccoli isn’t going to put you in a calorie deficit.
But that’s not to say you shouldn’t eat celery, broccoli or grapefruit– the best way to lose weight is by skipping fads and incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet.
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