There’s no denying the fact that a sneaky fart can make you feel a thousand times more comfortable—especially when you’re bloated and your belly feels tight as hell.
But does farting actually burn calories?
After one 2012 Facebook post on a page called called “F A C T,” announced that one fart burns 67 calories (which is the same number of calories you’d burn going for a 15-minute stroll or doing burpees for six minutes straight), thousands of people hit up Google and Reddit to fact check the claim. Does farting burn calories? They all wanted to know.
Sorry, web-surfers, but contrary to what you may have read, farting does not burn calories, says board-certified family and bariatric physician, Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and author of The Fat Loss Prescription.
The average person has about 0.5 to 1.5 litres of gas hanging out in their digestive tract per day, says Nadolsky. ‘People can toot up to 20 times per day and still be considered in the ‘normal’ range for farts-per-day,’ he adds. So if each fart actually burned 67 calories, then one day of gas-passing would burn up to 1,340 calories.
To put it in perspective, if farting burned that many calories, you’d drop about a pound of weight every two to three days.
‘That’s just ridiculous,’ says Matthew R. Pittman, M.D., medical director of the weight management and bariatric surgery program at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital. ‘You cannot fart yourself thin. No, farting is not a practical weight-loss tool. And no, it can not be used in place of regular exercise,’ he adds.
And in case you’re wondering: the sound it makes doesn’t make a difference in number calories burned, either. ‘Silent or loud, farts are made up of the same stuff: nitrogen, hydrogen, methane, oxygen, and water,’ says Nadolsky. The loudness is determined by the volume of gas being passed and the velocity of the expulsion, and neither factor will result in greater calorie burn, Pittman adds.
So Why Doesn’t Farting Burn Calories?
‘Passing gas is usually a very passive bodily function,’ says Nadolsky. When you pass gas, your muscles relax and the gas pressure in your bowels do all the work in expelling the gas, Pittman explains, and calorie burn comes from muscle activity, not inactivity.
Since the muscles aren’t doing any work in expelling the gas, straining yourself to the limit while farting would really be the only way to possibly burn calories… but if you’re straining hard enough to burn a calorie or two it will likely result in a poop-in-your-pants accident. (BTW: If you’re straining that much to force a fart out, you need to see your GP, says Nadolsky.)
‘Even if you experienced the most violent, explosive fart you can imagine, it would be pretty difficult to burn calories during it,’ says Pittman. Now, if you were in a HIIT-class or yoga-flow and happened to let one go, you’d be burning calories, but that would be a result of the exercise taking place not the expulsion of gas, he adds.
Why You Might Feel Like You’re Farting Yourself Thin
You may not be able to toot your way to thin, but the good news is that farting can make you feel lighter if you’ve been especially bloated.
We get gassy in one of two ways. ‘Swallowing air through bubbly beverages, chewing gum, or using a straw can create extra air in the GI tract,’ explains Pittman. ‘But the most common reason your body produces extra gas is because you’ve eaten things you can’t absorb or digest,’ he says.
If too much gas gets stuck in your GI tract, it can cause uncomfortable bloat that distends the abdomen, Pittman explains. That’s why sometimes a good toot can make all the difference. ‘If you’re bloated and need to fart, do it,’ he says, ‘it may not burn calories, but it sure will make you feel better.’
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.
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