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5 Weird Weight-Loss Questions, Answered

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By Elizabeth Goodman Artis for Shape.com

Ever wonder how much your hair weighs or if tossing and turning during a nightmare burns calories? We did too -- so we asked Erin Palinksi, R.D., nutrition consultant and author of the upcoming "Belly Fat Diet For Dummies" if there's any truth to these five off-the-wall weight-loss questions.

1. Do Nightmares Burn Calories?
If your dreams are of the adventurous variety, surely you must burn a few calories leaping tall buildings and soaring through the air, right? Not necessarily, according to Palinski.

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"Just because you wake up with your heart racing, doesn't mean that you're burning calories," she says. However, if a dream or nightmare causes you to toss and turn for minutes or hours, this will burn a few more calories than lying still.

On the flipside, if your nocturnal adventures are interrupting your sleep quality, it can actually have a negative impact on weight. Research shows that after a poor night's sleep, hormones that regulate appetite such as ghrelin and leptin can become off balance, increasing appetite and causing you to eat more, which cancels out any slight calorie burn you may have experienced while tossing and turning at night.

2. Can My Hair Contribute To Extra Weight On The Scale?
This depends on your hair -- if it's long and thick, it could weigh an ounce or two, says Palinski. (Think of a wig. If you picked it up and weighed it, even if it is very lightweight, it would register as a few ounces). If you just came out of the shower and your hair is wet, this can also add an additional ounce or two due to the weight of the added water.

Unless you have a fancy bathroom scale, you're probably not tracking your weight by the ounce. And even if you are, blaming big hair for a little extra bulk won't exactly help you reach your goals faster.

3. Does Your Body Take An Inventory Of The Days' Calories At Midnight And Add Weight Right Then And There?
No. Your body is constantly burning, metabolizing and storing calories 24/7. If you eat too many calories at dinner, they aren't suddenly stored at the stroke of midnight. Plus, you need to eat an excess of 3,500 calories (that you don't burn off) to gain a pound, Palinski says.

Your body uses energy (i.e. calories) for all essential functions of life, including digestion and breathing, and these things don't stop while you sleep. Any excess calories you eat today might be burned off tomorrow, before you accumulate enough to gain any weight.

4. Does Bloat Caused By Gas Show Up On The Scale?
"Gas can make you feel like you gained weight and make your stomach look and feel distended, but since gas is just air, it does not contain any actual mass," Palinksi says. Gas can also be accompanied by water retention (especially during your period), and water weight can increase weight on the scale by as much as 1-5 pounds.

5. Is There Such A Thing As Negative Calories?
This is mostly a myth. All foods (except water) contain calories. However, some foods that are very low in calories, like celery, are thought to create something known as the "thermal effect." This essentially means that the calories it takes to digest and absorb a food are higher than the calories the food actually contains. So while eating a ton of celery won't impact your weight because of its so-called thermal effect, it's not a particularly smart -- or sane -- way to drop pounds.

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