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It sounds like a dieter's dream: Foods that require more calories to digest than they actually contain. But, alas, so-called "negative-calorie" foods are likely a fantasy — according to a new study done in lizards, they don't seem to exist.
The study is one of the first to scientifically test the idea of negative-calorie foods — a popular notion among dieters that's been promoted in forums, blogs and books alike. Some of the most cited examples of purportedly negative-calorie foods include celery, lettuce, grapefruit, cucumber and broccoli. The thinking goes that these low-calorie, high-fiber foods take more energy to digest and process than they themselves contain.
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"Regardless of the [calories] in the food, you're always going to be able to get something out of it," said study senior author Stephen Secor, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama. In the case of foods like celery, "it's not going to be a lot; but the food itself always is going to provide a profit," calorie-wise.
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Although the study was conducted in lizards, Secor told Live Science that if studies were done in people, "you probably would come out with something very similar" to the study's results. "It doesn't make sense you would run into a negative," regarding calories, he added.
But even if these foods aren't technically "negative-calorie," eating them could still help you lose weight. That's because, being low in calories, they don't put much of a dent in your daily calorie needs. You'd have to eat an awful lot of celery — nearly 30 lbs. (12.6 kg), according to the researchers' estimates — to offset the number of calories you burn in a day overall.
Meal - Celery
What's more, a meal of celery is "not going to sustain you...
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