There is no such thing as zero-calorie foods


Rumour has it that some foods contain fewer calories than the amount needed to burn them.

These foods have been given the name “zero-calorie foods”, and the idea is that eating them actually makes you burn calories.

Zero calorie foods, according to one Daily Mail article, include:

  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Watercress
  • Raspberries
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Lemons
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Cucumber
  • Strawberries
  • Swede
  • Watermelon
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Apricots
  • Asparagus  
  • Cranberries

In other words, a lot of foods.

But according to two nutritionists interviewed by the BBC, it’s nonsense.

Tim Garvey, chair of the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, told the BBC there are no foods that take up more calories to digest than they contain, and that the body only takes one fifth of the number of calories in a stick of celery to digest it.

Molly McAdams, a health writer with a master’s degree in nutrition, also rubbishes the myth in an article for Livestrong.

It has also been debunked by the University of Michigan and by an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition.

The book Why Calories Count, written by two nutritionists, states the idea of burning more calories by eating something is “impossible”.

To summarise: eating a stick of celery burns fewer calories than contained in the celery, and fewer calories than it takes to debunk pseudo-science articles about dieting.

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