Most people question and research, “How to lose weight”, but few people stop to consider where the weight actually goes. For years, many experts just assumed that fat is converted to energy or heat. Researchers Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown from the University of New South Wales completed a study published in the British Medical Journal to shed light on this misconception, as it violates the Law of Conservation of Mass. Instead, they have proved that fat loss is as simple as breathing out.
To understand the study, all you need is a quick Chemistry lesson. When our bodies consume excess calories, they are converted into triglycerides, or fats in the body composed to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Meerman and Brown then utilized stoichiometry to define the complete oxidation of human fat. This chemistry shows us that 10 kg of human fat requires 29 kg of inhaled oxygen producing 28 kg of CO2 and 11 kg of H2O.
In order to calculate fat loss, Meerman and Brown traced every atom’s pathway out of the body. They found that carbon and hydrogen atoms depart as CO2 and H2O, respectively. Under this approach, the study showed that 10 kg of fat (triglyceride), 8.4 kg is exhaled as CO2. The remainder of the 28 kg total of CO2 produced is contributed by inhaled oxygen.
And to sum up the research in plain English: Lungs are the primary excretory organ for weight loss, which makes breathing the primary mechanism for losing weight.
The study also showed that at rest, an average 70 kg person consuming an average diet exhales approximately 200 ml of carbon dioxide in 12 breaths per minute (Each breath is about 8.9 mg of excreted carbon). But, if that person replaces one hour of rest each day with exercise (such as jogging) that raises the metabolic rate, the individual will remove an additional 39 g of carbon from the body, raising the total by about 20% to 240 g.
Again, in simple laymen terms: Move more if you want to lose more weight.
Diet is not really mentioned is the research article, but again, if you have a decent understanding of chemistry, you can see why eating less helps you lose weight. The fewer triglycerides (fat) you have in your body, the less you need to breathe out to lose weight. This is also why carb, ketogenic diets have become so popular. People lose quickly lose weight at first, typically just water weight, because they are consuming less carbon (carbohydrates).
In summary, this study proves what we have always been taught regarding weight loss- eat less, exercise more. Of course, we also know that weight loss goes much deeper than that. There are also physical and psychological factors that are different for each individual. No one specific diet or exercise plan is going work for everyone.
The BEST thing you can do for your heath, and to help you lose weight, is to find what you enjoy and can maintain long term. It does not matter if it is walking/jogging, weight lifting or Zumba class. Find a workout that works for you and get moving (and breathing) to lose weight and feel great!