One word springs to mind when one thinks of weight loss: calories! Yes, calories matter; consuming more calories than you burn will lead to weight gain. So, most diets but intermittent fasting require calorie counting. Intermittent fasting is one of the only effective weight management diets that doesn’t ask you to count calories. Still, if you aim to lose a few extra pounds, consuming fewer calories after your fast can be beneficial in losing more weight.
So, is it possible to eat food with no calories? Let’s have a look at what zero calories is, a list of zero-calorie foods, and see if following a zero-calorie food diet is a good idea.
Let’s first debunk the zero-calorie myth – almost all food contains calories. When people talk about negative or zero-calorie foods, they refer to foods so low in calories that the energy taken to eat and digest them uses up all or most of their calorie content. Aside from foods like sugar substitutes engineered to contain no calories, the only natural zero-calorie source is water.
What are zero-calorie foods?
Zero-calorie or negative-calorie foods are those you can eat guilt-free. They are the foods to reach for following your fast to lose weight. That said, you should be mindful to eat a balanced diet that contains items from each food group to remain healthy. According to the US Department of Health, an optimal diet should include a mix of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, dairy, and lean protein.
A list of zero-calorie foods
Luckily, there are many zero-guilt, zero-calorie foods for weight loss. Here is our zero-calorie food list of the ten most popular fruits and vegetables:
- Apples: There are only 57 calories in a cup of apples and almost 3 grams of fiber, making them the perfect snack during your eating window.
- Asparagus: Green, white, and purple asparagus not only contains just 27 calories per cup, but it could also help to prevent heart disease.
- Beets: With just 59 calories per cup, beets are nutrition-packed root vegetables that can potentially lower blood pressure.
- Broccoli: Known for its cancer-fighting qualities, broccoli is another zero-calorie food, with one cup containing just 31 calories.
- Brussels Sprouts: Packed with vitamin C, Brussels sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked, containing around 38 calories per one-cup serving.
- Cabbage: With one cup of cabbage just 22 calories, cabbage is a staple on the zero-calorie food diet.
- Carrots: With just 53 calories per cup, weight loss is not the only benefit of eating carrots; they could also help to improve your eyesight as they are a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin A.
- Cauliflower: This versatile vegetable is a great carb substitute, with only 25 calories per cup and 5 grams of carbs.
- Cucumbers: This popular salad vegetable tastes excellent and is one of the best zero-calorie foods, with only seven calories per one-cup serving.
- Lemons and Limes: Incredibly low in calories (just 7 per one-cup serving), these citrus fruits are full of antioxidants that can help ward off chronic conditions and detox your body.
- Strawberries: Perfect for breakfast and dessert, strawberries can help fend off chronic conditions and are around 50 calories a cup.
- Tomatoes: Eat as many tomatoes as you like after your fast, as they are highly nutritious, and studies have shown they could reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. One cup contains around 27 calories.
Risks of a zero-calorie food diet
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “your body requires energy to power its functions, such as digestion, breathing, and pumping blood”. They believe eating a very low or zero-calorie diet could risk your health. An extremely calorie-restricted diet could leave you lacking essential vitamins and minerals, affect your brain function, and slow your metabolism, which is counterproductive if you aim to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. Combining these foods and intermittent fasting with staying active, cutting out processed foods, and not consuming sugary snacks is a far safer way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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