If you eat 100 calories and it takes the body 100 calories worth of energy to digest it, it's net-zero, and big dieting win.  Some foods that get close to that mark and will help hit weight loss goals.  

Full disclosure, I was a chubby kid, and I remember looking at my fat rolls growing up and wondering how in the world I could ever have a flat stomach.  I wanted to feel better.  I didn't have a flat stomach for a super long time because I loved pizza buffets, my grandma's mashed potatoes with noodles on top, and German Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. It was all so irresistible!  I've never met a carb I didn't like, but after growing a little older and wiser and reading a lot, I've come to accept that not all foods are beneficial.

My middle child is a foodie and she loves celery, and she said something in passing the other day about celery being a "negative calorie food." I was intrigued because I thought maybe this would be good justification to dunk a stalk into a jar of peanut butter, so I did a little research and found several other foods that could work to a calorie watcher's advantage.  And also, I'm happy to know kids talk about things in school other than Minecraft.

Healthline.com has a list of 38 foods that contain almost zero calories because of the energy needed to burn them, and we'll highlight ten of them.  If you have weight loss goals (or even weight maintenance goals) in 2021, these foods could really help.

Foods That Contain Almost Zero Calories

1.  Apples.  One cup of apple slices has 57 calories and almost three grams of dietary fiber.  Since your body has to burn energy to digest apples, the net amount of calories is close to zero.

2.  Arugula.  I love arugula mixed in with other greens.  It's a leafy green with a peppery flavor and it's loaded with vitamin K, calcium, and potassium.  One-half cup of arugula has only three calories.

3. Asparagus.  One cup of asparagus has only 27 calories and it's rich in vitamin K and folate.  Olive oil adds calories, but it adds good flavor too if you're roasting.

4.  Broccoli.  One cup of broccoli has only 31 calories and over 100% of the amount of vitamin C that we need each day.

5.  Carrots.  A one-cup serving has only 53 calories and over 400% of the DV for vitamin A.  They're also loaded with beta-carotene, which is good for eyesight, which is necessary to get the most out of that Peloton workout.

6. Cauliflower.  It's being tossed into pizza crusts and chipped into rice as a substitute for higher-carb vegetables or grains, and it seems to be working.  One cup of cauliflower has 25 calories and only five grams of carbs.

7. Celery.  It's amazing to me that celery can satisfy hunger at all because there's nothing to it.  It has "insoluble fiber that may go undigested through your body," and that means it slides through and contributes no calories by the time it's done.  There are only 18 calories in one cup of chopped celery.  Peanut butter may add 200, but the celery itself is pretty much calorie-free.

8.  Clementines.  These mini oranges are everywhere right now and they're high in vitamin C.  One little orange has 60% of the daily value for vitamin C and only 35 calories.

9. Grapefruit.  There are 52 calories in half a grapefruit and it's high in vitamin C.  When I was on a weight loss journey a few years back I ate a grapefruit every night, and I swear it chased away everything I had eaten that day and helped me start the next day feeling light.  Now I'm just trying to maintain weight, and two or three grapefruits a week seem to help me stay level.  Experts do say that certain compounds in grapefruit may increase metabolism.

10.  Tomatoes.  One cup of cherry tomatoes has 27 calories.  I dip them in spinach artichoke dip sometimes and drizzle on ranch dressing if they're in a salad, but the tomatoes themselves are among the lightest and most nutritious things we can eat, full of lycopene and vitamin C.

There are dozens of other low-cal, and zero-cal foods that can help us feel full, jumpstart weight loss plans, or maintain weight.  If we can resist the urge to cover them in peanut butter, dips, and sauces, they might hold the key to success in 2021.

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