On a particularly gassy day, it may seem like your body is doing some serious work to get those farts out. So you may be wondering (or, at the very least, wishfully thinking) whether farting actually burns any calories.
Well, rest assured that much like everything else on the internet, you are not the first person to have wondered this. In fact, if you Google “How many calories does farting burn,” you’ll find an oft-repeated rumor claiming that one fart burns 67 calories.
But is this (oddly specific) claim actually true? Does farting burn any calories at all? We called up some experts to find out.
What is a fart?
To sufficiently answer this question, first you have to understand how your body actually creates a fart.
“Farting is the natural act of passing intestinal gasses through the anus. Farts are largely made up of swallowed air, chemical reactions during digestion, and additional contributions by bacteria in our gut,” says Michael Rice, MD, gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine Gastroenterology Clinic.
As the bacteria in your intestines feast on the food that your body doesn’t, your stomach produces gas. Along with food that is being digested, gasses including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane build up within your intestines and move out via peristalsis towards your anus.
Needless to say, your diet plays a large role in the amount of gas you’re passing.
“High FODMAP foods [i.e. added sweeteners, stone fruits, dairy products, and legumes], fermentable carbohydrates (Fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides) are poorly absorbed, and are subsequently rapidly fermented by gut bacteria. This process produces gases leading to symptoms including bloating and distention,” says Dr. Rice. “Beans, cauliflower and broccoli are among the well-known offenders, as well as dairy products, especially for people who are lactose intolerant.”
So can you fart yourself toward weight loss?
“Unfortunately, not. Humans on average pass gas approximately 14 times per day, with no measurable burned calories,” says Rice.
When you fart, it may seem like your muscles are somehow working, but in fact it’s the opposite.
“The release of farts is directed by relaxation of the anal sphincter. When the muscles relax, the gas pressure from within the colon expels the gas,” says Rice. “The only way you would achieve even a modestly quantifiable number of calories burned by farting is if you maximally strained your abdominal muscles to release a fart — an unlikely scenario, aside from when exercising.”
That’s partially why you may notice you fart more when working out. As you may have noticed when doing sit-ups, “workouts that involve squeezing the core musculature can also squeeze the bowels and fire off a fart,” says Rice. In fact, aerobic exercise in general “can propagate the passage of food and air through the GI tract, which can lead to a fart as well.” But any calories burned in that situation would largely be the result of the exercise itself, not of the fart.
That said, while farting doesn’t burn calories, it can certainly make you feel like you have. When your body releases trapped gasses, it may help relieve symptoms of gas, such as bloating or distention, says Rice, which may be why you feel thinner after a particularly bad bout of gas.
That said, if you start noticing rapid weight loss associated with more farts or bowel movements, it could be a sign of a more serious gut issue.
“If your farts are actually associated with weight loss, this could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as Celiac Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (such Crohn’s disease),” says Dr. Rice. “Additionally, if your farts are associated with abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, or rectal bleeding, you should see a doctor.”
By Emily Shiffer