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Does Eating Celery Really Result in Negative Calories?

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Snake oil salesmen all over the web would have you believe that, for a few easy payments, they'll reveal to you a diet focused on “negative calorie” foods. You’ll be able to eat all you want and lose weight while doing it, because the amount of energy used to chew and digest these foods is supposedly greater than the amount of energy they provide. But is that really true?

Some of the energy in every piece of food you eat is considered a wash because an equal amount of energy is expended to eat and digest it, but the thermic effect of food—or diet-induced thermogenesis, as it's technically known—usually only accounts for around 10 percent of your caloric intake (there are some outliers, of course, and high-protein foods may lose as much as 30% of their energy to digestion, while certain easily-processed fats have a thermic effect of as little as 2 or 3 percent).

Celery is one of the most touted negative-calorie foods, because much of its caloric content is bound up in cellulose, a fiber that humans can’t digest. The amount of energy we can extract from celery is negligible, a measly 6 calories in a medium-sized stalk. But even then, it only takes a little more than one half of a calorie’s worth of energy to digest what we can of that piece (and maybe even less: the thermic effect has been shown to be lower after high-fiber meals).

The bottom line is that any kind negative-calorie snacking, celery or otherwise, is purely wishful thinking. But celery stalks are still worth a chew: They're obviously better for your caloric balance sheet than, say, a candy bar or a Slim Jim. Just don’t expect them to be green, fibrous magic bullets for your diet.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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