Negative calorie food is a popular diet term, and the claims can be convincing. When marketers say a food has negative calories, they are claiming that the body burns more calories digesting the food than the food contains. Here are a few things you should know about these claims.
Negative calorie diet claims do not have scientific support.If people lose weight using what they term a negative calorie diet, it is likely due to decreasing total calorie intake by replacing high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods.
These claims are based on the thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food is the energy used during digestion. According to the Mayo Clinic, this accounts for just 5 to 10% of total calories eaten. On a 1,500 calorie diet, up to 150 calories are necessary for digestion. Even if the negative calorie theory were true, the impact on weight loss would be minimal.
Most foods on the negative calorie list are healthy. Celery, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, onions, and cabbage contain nutrients and fiber. Include these foods as part of a balanced diet, but include them for their nutritional content and not because they are reported to magically boost calorie burn.
Avoid the temptation to believe in quick fixes and magical solutions. It is much more effective to reduce calories eaten and increase calories burned than to limit yourself to a select number of vegetables.
Healthy eating makes you feel great, but when you start a weight loss plan, you may experience a temporary drop in energy. These tips will help you identify what is causing your lack of energy, and how to change it. Just remember to hang in there. Once your body adjusts to your new healthy lifestyle, your energy levels will soar!
Expect an adjustment period.
You will be tempted to adopt many new habits all at once, but remember that weight loss isn’t about short term changes. You will need to make gradual, long-term changes to create a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out all the foods you love, or jumping into strenuous workouts right away will leave you feeling drained, and set you up for failure. Instead of dropping your food intake from 2,200 to 1,200 calories in one day, try cutting out 200 calories daily and then increase your calorie deficit each week. This will help your body gradually adjust to your new eating patterns while maintaining your energy levels.
Monitor your calorie intake.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day, and men no fewer than 1,700 calories per day for safe and effective weight loss. This doesn’t mean your intake needs to be this low. If you’ve eaten the same amount of calories for a week and still feel lethargic, slowly add back a few calories in the form of nutritious foods. The goal is to find a point of balance where you feel energized, but you have reduced calories enough to lose weight.
Eat more iron.
Over time, low iron intake can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which results in low energy levels. Eat high-protein, iron-rich foods -- such as beans, poultry, lean red meat, and nuts. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men aged 19 and older, and women aged 51 and older, get 8 mg of iron per day. Women aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg per day.
Focus on nutrition, not just calories.
It’s possible to reduce calories and lose weight while still eating processed foods that contain excess sodium and sugar. While you may lose weight, you won’t have the same energy levels as you would if you ate whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. This is because these foods also contain vitamins and minerals that support healthy body function. Include more fresh foods in your diet and decrease the amount of packaged foods you eat to increase your energy levels.
Eat more often.
When you go an extended period of time from one meal to the next, or skip meals all together, this causes problems with your metabolism and leaves you famished. Eating when you are hungry will help your body to trust that you are not starving it. In return, your body will reestablish a healthy metabolism that will help you reach a healthy weight.
Get the right amount of exercise.
Avoid jumping into exercise too quickly. If you haven’t worked up to an adequate fitness level, strenuous exercise will leave you exhausted. Make your goal to exercise enough to feel challenged, but not to the point where you are too exhausted and sore to move. Begin with 15 – 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, 3 to 5 times per week. Each week, gradually add more time, more intensity, or new exercises as your fitness level improves. Soon you’ll be able to push through a tough workout and feel energetic afterward.
Lack of quality sleep will leave you drained of energy. Over time this can reduce your motivation to exercise, and you’ll lose focus. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Experiment with your sleep patterns until you find a time frame that allows you to wake feeling rested.
Black rice is a whole grain that is packed with antioxidants and important minerals. Its nutty flavor makes it a delicious side dish on its own, but it is even better when used in a cold grain salad with nutritious vegetables. This recipe combines black rice with broccoli and a slightly sweet sesame dressing.
Tips for the cook: Black rice is sometimes called Forbidden Rice. It can be found in most health food supermarkets or online. It’s best served the day it is cooked because its dark purple pigment can color other ingredients when stored overnight.
Serving Size 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.4g
2%Saturated Fat 0.4g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 29g
Dietary Fiber 2.2g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
¾ cup black rice
2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1½ cups broccoli florets, chopped
¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
To cook the black rice, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the grains are tender.
Drain the rice in a colander, and quickly rinse with cold water. Let sit to drain.
Place the tahini, garlic, honey, and soy sauce in a small food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are combined. If you don’t have a small food processor, mince the garlic and whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Place the broccoli and onion in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat all ingredients. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Weight loss should not be your only goal when approaching a new exercise program. Although weight loss is a definite benefit, your overall health status should be the priority. Improving your health will give you the strength, energy, and stamina needed to live your life fully.
If you want to lose weight the right way, you do need to exercise. Increased physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. Increased fitness levels also improve cardiovascular function, muscular strength, flexibility, and muscular tone (body shape).
If this is not enough to convince you of the importance of exercise, consider that weight loss through diet alone will result in a greater loss of muscle. Although your body weight may drop without exercise, your relative body fat may increase. This in turn may lower your metabolism and make it harder for you to maintain weight loss.
Trust in the fact that your body actually wants to move and that by honoring this necessity, you will feel energized. If you take a gentle approach to exercise, you will find that you may actually enjoy it. Many people have been turned off to exercise due to bad experiences in the past. Whether you have horrible recollections of being laughed at in gym class or you have abused your body with extreme exercise, your relationship with healthy physical activity can be repaired.
The keys to enjoying exercise are simple.
Find activities that fit your personality. Consider all aspects of physical activity, such as individual or group, indoor or outdoor, competitive or non-competitive, traditional (such as aerobics class) or non-traditional (such as rock climbing or scuba diving). Don't give up until you find a good fit.
Start slowly and listen to the feedback from your body. Exercise should energize you, not exhaust you. Even if you start with only 5-minute sessions, move at the pace that is right for you. Everyone starts somewhere, don't judge or evaluate your starting point.
Realize and appreciate how your body feels and responds to the exercise. As your body warms up, you may feel invigorated. Following exercise you may feel warm, relaxed, and a sense of calmness. Tune in to your body and use this feedback to guide your actions.
Don’t beat yourself up for skipping a workout. Recognize that no one is perfect and accept that life often gets in the way of best intentions. This realization is a part of a healthy approach and attitude towards exercise. Recommit and make your next workout a priority.
When it comes to reaching a healthy weight, eating breakfast every day is one habit that successful losers have in common. These quick ideas will get you going in the morning while keeping you on track to meet your daily calorie target.
Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over an 8-inch whole wheat tortilla. Place it in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. On one side of the tortilla, pile on 2 scrambled egg whites, a ½ cup of fresh spinach, and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and cook on each side until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is browned.
Quick Fruit and Nut Cereal
In a single-serve bowl, add 1 cup of puffed brown rice cereal, 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries, and 2 tablespoons of raw pecans. Pour in a ½ cup of low-fat milk, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.
English Muffin Nut Butter Sandwich
Toast 1 whole wheat English muffin. Spread 1 tablespoon of raw almond butter over one half.
Cut off about ¼ of a whole pear and thinly slice it. Arrange the pear slices over the almond butter, and top with the other half of the toasted English muffin.
Apple Pie Cottage Cheese
Add a ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese to a bowl. Top with a ½ cup of diced apple, and sprinkle on a pinch each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves. Add 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup and stir to combine. Top with 2 tablespoons of granola. If you don’t like cottage cheese, substitute low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt.
Banana Berry Oatmeal
In a microwave-safe dish, combine ½ cup of old-fashioned rolled oats, ¾ cup of water, a ½ of a banana, and a ½ cup of frozen blueberries, slightly thawed. Use a fork to mash the banana and berries into the oatmeal until they are evenly distributed. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until the oatmeal is bubbly. Add more water if you prefer a thinner oatmeal. The fruit should add plenty of sweetness, but you can sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for 15 more calories, if desired.