Foods Can Have Negative Calories myth

Are there negative calorie foods?

Is There Any Negative Calorie Food?

There is no negative calorie food. Not even low calorie or fibrous fruits and vegetables burn more calories than they contain, but some drinks can.

What is a Negative Calorie Food?

A negative calorie food (a negative net-calorie food) is any food or drink that burns more calories from chewing and digestion than a person absorbs from it. In scientific terms the amount a person burns from eating a food or drinking a drink is called “thermic effect” (the amount of energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for use and storage).[3]

No food has negative net-calories; that is a fact. If someone tells you that a food is negative calorie, you may want to question other things they say. Watch this video to learn about the thermic effect of food.

Is There Any Negative Calorie Drink?

The only negative calorie drinks are iced or heated zero calorie beverages (especially when caffeine is added). Ice water can be calorie negative due to thermic effect of cold water. Other zero calorie drinks may achieve the same effect when chilled or heated.

What is the Calorie in / Calorie out Ratio With Celery

A larger stick of celery that contains 10 calories “costs” about 5 calories to eat. Your body would retain most of the other half. Other studies show a stalk producing 6 calories and costing 1/2 calorie to eat. Celery has a thermic affect of 8%.[2]

Foods that are not negative calorie, despite common belief: Celery, grapefruit, lemon, lime, apple, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, or any other food.

Celery, Apples, and Limes, Contain Water Making You Full and Less Thirsty

You don’t get much of a calorie benefit from celery, apples, or many other fruits and vegetables on the usual diet lists, but you may get full from the fiber, feel less thirsty due to the water, and even pick up some minerals and nutrients boosting your health along the way.[4]

What is the Calorie in / Calorie out Ratio With Coffee

Warm to hot coffee has about 1 calorie per cup and burns about 1 calorie per cup during digestion making black coffee a zero calorie drink. Coffee with high caffeine content that is drunk at a very hot or cold temperature may cause it to become a negative calorie drink.

Zero Calorie Drinks and Negative Calorie Drinks

Things like water, plain tea, plain coffee, and even low calorie soft drinks can be zero calorie. The FDA allows anything with less than 5 calories to be called zero calories. So there is a wide range of caffeinated drinks with less than 5 calories, drinks can also be chilled or heated. Caffeine can increase metabolism and so can heating or chilling a liquid. If one drinks ice water or a caffeinated near zero calorie drink they can actually achieve a net negative calories.[2]

The problem is that a glass of ice water burns about 2 calories. 1 pound of body fat equals about 3,500 calories. Drinking enough ice water, ice diet soda, or ice coffee to make any difference could be dangerous for ones health on a number of levels.


There is no negative calorie food in practice (although theoretically there could be[1]). Certainly the idea that things like iceberg lettuce and celery burn more than calories than they contain is a myth. However, it seems a very cold glass of ice water does achieve a negative calorie count, so we can say there are negative calorie drinks.


  1. Who, What, Why: Can foods have negative calories?“. Retrieved Oct 10, 2015.
  2. Negative-calorie food“.┬áRetrieved Oct 10, 2015.
  3. Specific dynamic action“.┬áRetrieved Oct 10, 2015.
  4. Get Something for Nothing: 25 Nearly Calorie-Free Foods“. Retrieved Oct 10, 2015.

Author: Thomas DeMichele

Thomas DeMichele is the content creator behind,,, and other and Massive Dog properties. He also contributes to MakerDAO and other cryptocurrency-based projects. Tom's focus in all...

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