The business of weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry, and yet most people still don’t know the nuts and bolts about how the body both stores, breaks down, and finally removes fat.
Weight loss and dieting plans are usually focused on the types of food people should eat, and how much, but according to Australian researchers there is at least one major aspect of weight loss, and more specifically the elimination of fat, that these diet plans aren’t focusing on.
It has absolutely nothing to do with food, surprisingly, but it does have a lot to do with how our bodies expel fat —which could make it the missing piece for millions of dieters and people who are struggling to lose stubborn body fat.
Study’s Shocking Conclusion: We Literally Exhale Fat
Despite our obsession with body fat and getting rid of it or at least manage it, most health professionals don’t know what happens to it when we “lose it,” as this recent article from the website Science Alert pointed out.
But researchers out of UNSW Science in Sydney believe they have found the hidden key: the simple act of exhaling is absolutely crucial for eliminating body fat. In fact, exhaling is the mechanism our bodies use for expelling fat in general, the study found. The results, published in the British Medical Journal in 2014, demonstrate that most doctors’ theories may be wrong — we don’t convert missing mass into heat or energy, we actually breathe it out into the environment.
The researchers found that 10 kg of fat turns into 8.4 kg of carbon dioxide, which is exhaled whenever we breathe, and 1.6 kg of water, which we later excrete through urine, sweat, tears and other bodily functions.
“The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air,” Ruben Meerman, the study’s lead author, and a physicist and TV presenter said in a press release. Meerman said he pursued the study after losing 15 kg and finding that doctors could not tell him where the weight actually went.
More than half of 150 doctors, dieticians, and personal trainers said in a survey that they thought fat was converted into heat or energy instead of the Sydney team’s finding on exhalation. But Meerman, a physicist, knew that such a function would violate the Law of Conservation of Mass.
How to Actually Lose Weight Through Exhalation
In order to lose weight, the goal of any person should be to break down triglycerides (compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) in the body stored inside fat cells, which helps to access the cells’ carbon stores.
For every 10 kg of human fat to be broken down, we need to inhale 29 kg of oxygen (and burn a total of 94,000 calories as well), leading to a reaction that produces 28 kg of CO2 and 11 kg of water.
“Our calculations show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat,” the team writes in the paper.
Considering the lack of exhalation, this research might explain why chronic stress is also one of the biggest contributors to consistent weight gain, as noted in studies within the primate kingdom. It also explains why exercise is so effective for fat loss, and even suggests that relaxing and performing deep breathing exercises can help assist in the fat “burning” process.