Chances are that you are familiar with extremely popular Negative Calorie Diet ™ attracting online dieters by the NEGATIVE CALORIE idea. Recently, it became clear (at least to me) that the foods, which can be called “negative calorie foods” come in two shapes. One is pure low-fat, low energy density, high-fiber foods. Another group looks opposite in every respect except it also can qualify for having negative calorie effect. How can it be? Let’s start with the “older” group.
It all started back in 1935 when the term “Catabolic food” was first used by Dr. Victor Lindlahr who practiced in Chicago and broadcasted his nutrition progam. The term refered to foods that had, what he called, “reverse calories” (now known as negative calories.) Dr. Lindlahr asked listeners of his radio broadcast to test his new diet and report back to him the results.
Almost 26,000 listeners did report back with an average one pound of body weight lost per day for ten days.
So, there is such thing as negative calorie food?
If consuming these foods results in overall negative calorie balance – you burn more calories than you consume – then YES, there is such a thing. But how can one tell before the foods are eaten day after day and body weight is lost indeed?
Anabolism, Catabolism, and Energy Balance
It takes carefully matching caloric intake to caloric expenditure to maintain proper energy stores.
Achieving such a balance of energy is a product of complex interactions of hormones with the systems in the brain that regulates food intake and energy expenditure.
1. The ‘anabolic’ system is activated during negative energy balance. This system increases food intake and decreases energy expenditure to regain lost energy stores. It is trying to return the body to the energy-saving mode.
2. The catabolic system is activated during positive energy balance. This system decreases food intake and increases energy expenditure.
So the genuine catabolic system is activated only by a positive energy balance, which seriously contradicts the Catabolic Diet, leave alone the Negative Calorie Diet ™ theory.
To make the things even worse, there are direct experimental facts that during negative energy balance the body decreases production of heat, thus decreasing energy expenditure.
Does this mean that the Catabolic Diet doesn’t work? I’m far from making this conclusion. I am just trying to say that it works differently than is spelled out by its founder and his followers now selling their Negative Calorie Diet ™