We all know the stereotype about chowing down on a piece of celery when going on a diet, but apparently even this age-old weight-loss staple is a myth.
You see, it turns out there’s no such thing as negative calorie foods. That’s right, even chomping on cucumber isn’t the secret to eating yourself into a smaller dress size.
That’s what a group of scientists are saying anyway, after testing the theory, because nobody has really challenged it with actual research before.
Katherine Buddemeyer from the University of Alabama led the study and fed celery to a group of bearded dragon lizards.
After digestion and excretion, the team found the reptiles held onto around a quarter of the calories they’d eaten in the first place, banishing the myth into oblivion.
The scientists measured their metabolic rates – how much energy they need to perform basic functions – and discovered 33 per cent of the calories were used in digestion and 43 per cent was excreted.
What was left was 24 per cent of the calories in the celery. A small amount, but still a positive number.
The study authors said: “By evaluating these energy tradeoffs, we determined bearded dragons to experience a net gain in energy from their celery meals. However, this gain is rapidly abolished by the lizard’s resting metabolism.”
While us humans are not exactly the same as bearded dragons, the researchers think our metabolisms work in a very similar way, but some experts are not convinced.
They’re pointing to the fact that lizards are cold-blooded and humans warm-blooded, so their metabolisms function differently.
This means that perhaps more studies are required to get a definitive answer into whether celery is a negative calorie food or not.
Of course, even if eating celery, cucumber, broccoli and lettuce doesn’t burn calories, these veggies still have lots of nutritional value and can help with weight loss.
Instead of calling them negative calorie foods, the scientists think they should be labelled as “negative budget”, because the energy they give is easily used up in the course of a day.
So, the big takeaway for anyone looking to lose weight is that these foods may not take more calories to digest than they contain, but it’s quick and easy to burn them off.