Are We Positive about Negative Calories?: Celery Edition

Back in my middle school class, there was this know-it-all, Alexis. I always thought she was a little wack and high maintenance, but even so we were associates at the same lunch table. Every day for lunch, Alexis would pack a sandwich and a big Zip-Loc bag completely filled with celery. Now, I am not questioning her choice of vegetable at all; however, I was sceptic of her reasoning behind the snack. She claimed that when you eat celery you are actually burning calories because of all the chewing that you have to do. This was my first time hearing of this ridiculous hypothesis, so I was initially certain that she was full of it. Despite my suspicions, I decided to do some research because frankly, it was pretty interesting.


So, basically, Alexis’ hypothesis was that if you chew celery, then you are burning more calories than you are eating. According to Stuart Farrimond, the digestion process does in fact burn calories, but only as much as 200 per day. If each celery stick is equivalent to 6 calories, and the tough flesh of celery calls for excessive digestion, then sure, it is simple to assume that you are going to put in more energy processing this food than you are going to obtain by eating it. Calories are a release of heat or energy into the body, and this release is referred to as the Thermic Effect. The outcome of how much energy is left in the body after a full process of digestion depends on what kind of food you eat. It is a common fact that celery for example mainly consists of water and fiber, and the body does not have to work that hard to digest either of those. Fiber is like a digestion inducer, so it easily passes through the body and out the other end. Water is similar, for it is simply swallowed and eliminated through urination. Because it is so simple for the body to rid itself of this waste, celery does in fact not have a strong enough Thermic Effect to entirely break down all of its calories plus additional calories.

In conclusion, it is needless to say that yes, celery is significantly better for you than fattier foods that may take more time and energy to break down, but can be hundreds of times the amount of calories as a stalk of celery. This brings into play however, the nutritional suggestion that “too much of anything is never good for you”. For say, if you were to eat 42 stalks of celery, and each stalk were 6 calories, you would be consuming roughly 250 calories, that of which is equivalent to most small candy bars. Although, the contents of the celery are better for you in whole, energy is energy. Your body is not going to burn over 250 calories digesting 42 stalks of pure fiber and water….Sorry, Alexis.

Does eating Celery burn calories? The Science about ‘Negative Calorie’ diets (finally).

2 thoughts on “Are We Positive about Negative Calories?: Celery Edition

  1. cmt5658

    I am so happy you chose to write about this because I have heard this so many times. Although like you said, it isn’t actually doing much, it is still so cool to me that eating this type of food is in a sense burning calories. However, while just eating celery definitely isn’t healthy, ( this article suggests that replacing celery with other snacks is a healthy diet.

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