It’s not really a myth. It’s just hard to comprehend when you want to deal with hard, numerical facts. Each person burns a certain amount of calories per day and anything less is going to cause you to burn the fat you have stored in your body. The number of calories per day that you normally burn is going to change depending on how active you are and how fast your body metabolizes what you’ve eaten.
Let’s suppose you burn 2000 calories per day. That means you need to burn 83 calories per hour if you stay awake for 24 hours. Most people don’t, sleeping about eight hours a day. That means you need to burn about 125 calories per hour during your waking hours. Sure, you burn calories when you sleep, but you can’t control it.
Now let’s suppose it takes you an hour to eat cucumber slices (it takes me at least an hour to eat them the way I eat them, with vinegar and pepper). There’s about 34 calories in a large, peeled cucumber. Since you need to burn 125 calories and you only consume 34, they’re called “negative calories” but such a thing doesn’t really exist. It just means the rest of your calories are going to come from your own stored body fat.
Catabolic foods are mostly fruit and vegetables, but some fish and shellfish are also on the list.
“Thermogenic foods” is probably not the best way to describe foods that create a thermogenic effect, but I really can’t think of a better way to describe them. Foods in this category cause your metabolism to speed up, which causes you to burn calories faster. You burn fat faster, faster than you probably would otherwise.
Thermogenic foods include whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, green tea, lentils, and hot peppers. Caffeine can also cause a thermogenic effect, which is why some athletes consume drinks containing caffeine just before a workout or an athletic event. Maybe I need to drink more of the regular, unleaded coffee than I’ve drunk over the past several months.
Fat people like me want to lose weight, but we don’t want to give up the foods that made us fat in the first place. We try to exercise more to make up for it, but it gets harder when we get older and when we have old injuries that prevent us from doing what used to work.
The solution to weight loss is to add as many catabolic and thermogenic foods to our daily diets as we can possibly stomach. We need to avoid fast food as much as possible, but only the fattening kind. By the way, it’s not the burger that makes you fat, it’s the fries.