Negative Calorie Foods Produce Fullness and Help Weight Loss

Negative calorie foods (also known as free foods on Dr. Lipman’s Diet Plans) are great choices for weight loss. The concept is that these foods contain fewer calories than the body needs to break them down in the stomach, transport the broken down components, and then metabolize them. They are filling, so they help reduce hunger and cravings-and they are healthy! These foods share similar nutrition profiles:

  • Low in calories – < 20 calories per portion
  • High in fiber
  • High in water content – exceeding 90% by weight
  • Low in Carbs – < 5 grams per portion

Most of these negative calorie foods contain few calories, such as celery and other non-starchy vegetables, but still require energy to digest. Even if the calories were actually “negative” it does not mean, as some have said, that you will actually lose weight eating lots of these foods. The best it can be is that they are simply calorie and carb neutral. That is the reason they make great additions to any weight loss and weight maintenance program.

3 Parts of Daily Metabolism

Metabolism ComponentsDaily metabolism consists of calories needed for physical activity, for body function, and for ingestion and digestion of foods.

Physical activity is the calories needed for daily activities and any extra exercise. Body functions include things like one’s heartbeat and nervous system. Ingestion and digestion of food is self explanatory. “Free foods” are those foods where the energy needed to digest the food is greater than the calories in the food. The net calories after digesting these foods are actually a negative number. That’s why they are free!

“Free Foods” are Negative Calorie Foods

  1. Low in calories and carbs – they can be eaten without regard to portion and amounts
  2. Calories, carbs, proteins, and fats are so low that they have NO effects or insignificant effects on blood sugar and fat accumulation
  3. Most have so few calories and carbs that the energy spent in digesting that food is more than the energy that food actually provides
  4. Researchers have defined them to have less than 20 calories or 5 grams of carbs per 100 gram portion.

Fibrous Vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Alfalfa Sprouts

Condiments/Cooking Ingredients:

  • Mustard
  • Pickles
  • Relish
  • Sauerkraut
  • Chicken/Beef broth (or bouillon)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salsa (UPDATED: Forgot this one as one of my go-to’s)
  • Hot Sauce (e.g. Tabasco)
  • Sriracha


  • Jello (Sugar-free)
  • Gum (Sugar-free)
  • Mints (Sugar-free)
  • Sushi Seaweed Wrap


  • Coffee (with a splash of skim milk)
  • Tea
  • Sugar-free Beverages

What Are Almost Free Foods?

Almost free foods are similar to free foods except they have slightly more calories and carbs. They are not quite negative calorie foods, but they are close. They can be eaten in unlimited portions but no more than 2-3 times a day.

  1. From 20 to 50 calories per portion
  2. Little to no effect on blood sugar
  3. May not have negative energy when being digested compared to free foods
  4. Calories are so low so that they are not worth counting

Most are Low Glycemic Index Fruits

  • peach = 37 calories, 1.6 grams fiber
  • 1/2 grapefruit = 37 calories, 1.7 grams fiber
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries = 50 calories, 2.5 grams fiber
  • 1 cup apricot halves = 55 calories, 2 grams fiber
  • 1 cup cantaloupe cubes = 56 calories, 1.3 grams fiber
  • 1 orange, apple, pear = 60 calories, 2.3 grams fiber

Negative Calorie Foods are Mostly Vegetables

Negative calorie foods include Celery. It is on top of the list due to its high water density and excellent fiber content. About 75% of a celery stick is actually water; the other 25% is fiber and other roughage. As a result of the fact that this tasty vegetable is so full of water, it provides you with far fewer calories than it will take for your body to digest the snack. In addition to burning more calories than it contains, celery is an excellent source of fiber that can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack. The health benefits of celery don’t end at weight loss. Celery is full of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Further, celery has anti-oxidant properties that may be able to improve cardiovascular health.

You can enjoy celery sticks on their own, or try lightly seasoning them with salt. You can also dip celery in hot sauce to make a spicy snack, or chop it up for a salad.

Total calories per 100 gram serving: 16

Cucumber had to be on this list since it contains so much water. Hence, it is a great addition for salad and is a wonderful choice for an active lifestyle since it keeps you hydrated. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 16

Cabbage is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 25

Asparagus provides essential B vitamins. It is also rich in folate, which is important for expecting mothers and a healthy heart. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 20

Beets are known to be an excellent source of iron and antioxidants. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 43

Cauliflower is known to be an anti-inflammatory food and is really good for the body’s cardiovascular and digestive system. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 25

Kale Extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin K, kale has a lot of benefits. Total calories per 100 gram serving: 49

Others negative calorie foods include mushrooms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and onions