Does Celery Really Have Negative Calories?

Searching for foods with “negative calories” is a common strategy to lose weight. Of all the supposed “negative calorie” foods, celery is probably the most well-known, but does celery really have negative calories?

Celery doesn’t have negative calories although it contains very few. One raw medium celery stalk contains 6.4 calories. One raw long celery stalk contains 10.2 calories, and one cup of raw chopped celery contains 16.2 calories.

As a Certified Health Coach the topic of calories comes up often. In this article, we’ll dig a little deeper into the negative-calorie dieting myth. How did it start and we’ll examine if there any foods with negative calories.

Celery Is Low-Calorie But Not Negative Calories

Celery sticks.
Celery sticks

People have been touting negative-calorie foods like celery as weight loss miracle cures for several years. There are plenty of legitimate scientific studies that prove celery doesn’t have negative calories. 

The following chart shows how many calories raw celery contains:

Serving SizeCalories
1 Small Celery Stalk (5″ Long)2.7
1 Medium Celery Stalk (7.5 – 8″ Long)6.4
1 Long Celery Stalk (11 – 12″ Long)10.2
1 Cup of Raw Chopped Celery16.2

As you can in the chart above, celery doesn’t have any negative calories1. If that’s true, though, why do so many people continue to believe the myth? 

The “Science” Behind the Negative-Calorie Myth

There’s a belief in the dieting world that some foods, particularly foods high in fiber and water, require more calories to digest than the foods have in them. 

The most popular “negative-calorie foods” include:

  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Berries

Water has no calories, so some people think foods with high water content are likely to have few or even zero calories. Furthermore, the body doesn’t digest fiber; instead, it passes through the body as waste.

Together, these two facts combined and convinced some people there were foods with negative calories. In other words, they believe the process of digestion requires burning more calories than they consume when eating those foods.

Websites, blogs, magazines, and newspapers jumped on the bandwagon. Suddenly, there were articles about foods with negative calories everywhere, which only cemented the idea as gospel in many people’s minds.

Dr. Donald Hensrud said it best while answering a question for the Mayo Clinic website: “It is theoretically possible to have a negative-calorie food, but there are no reputable scientific studies to prove that certain foods have this effect.”

Why Celery With Negative Calories Is Just a Myth

Chewing Burns Very Few Calories

The idea of negative-calorie foods has never been proven, and there are plenty of scientific studies out there that actually prove they don’t exist.

A study discussed in The New England Journal of Medicine, for example, shows that the act of chewing gum for one hour only burns about 11 calories, and it takes much less time to eat a cup full of celery2. 

Digestion Doesn’t Burn a Ton Either

The act of digestion also doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as people think. Unlike with chewing, there’s no single number I can give you concerning how many calories the digestion process burns3. With digestion, it’s a little more complicated than that.

A general rule of thumb using the thermic effect of food4 is you burn 10% of the calories you consume during the digestion process. However, this percentage can vary based on your age, weight, and whether you’re mainly consuming carbs, proteins, or fats.

Using this as a baseline, 10% of the 6.2 calories from a celery stalk is not even one calorie.

Does Celery Juice Have Negative Calories?

Celery juice does not have negative calories. Celery juice made with one cup of celery and water contains 16.2 calories.

As with celery, there’s no scientific evidence to show celery juice is a negative-calorie drink. It can, however, aid in weight loss when combined with a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Celery juice provides numerous benefits related to weight loss, including:
  • It’s rich in essential vitamins and nutrients that can supplement a low-calorie diet.
  • It’s low-calorie and filling.
  • It’s a healthy, low-calorie alternative to soda or coffee in the mornings.
  • It makes you feel full and can keep you from eating as much.
Additionally, these are only the weight loss benefits associated with it. Celery juice is also supposed to help all kinds of ailments like acid reflux and even high blood pressure5.

In short, celery juice may not be a negative-calorie treat, but it still has numerous health benefits that make it a worthwhile beverage.

Read Next – More Articles on Anti Aging Foods!

Why Mangos Taste Like Pine

Are Asparagus Berries Edible?

Can Mushrooms Be Eaten raw? A Scientific Look

Is It Better To Eat Broccoli Raw Or Cooked?


  1. NutritionData: Celery, raw nutrition facts and calories []
  2. The New England Journal of Medicine: The Energy Expended in Chewing Gum []
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Diet Induced Thermogenesis []
  4. Taylor & Francis Online: The Thermic Effect of Food: A Review []
  5. Blood Pressure Explained: Celery Juice For High Blood Pressure []

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