Blog Post - News, Views and Tips

Take a Deep Breath, and Lose Weight

Take a Breath - Pro:Kinesis Personal Training, High WycombeDid you know that when you lose weight, you actually breathe most of it away?

Ok, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but scientifically that’s effectively what you do. Over the last decade or so, a number of studies have traced what happens to the molecules that make up fat, and concluded that around 70 to 80% are exhaled as Carbon Dioxide, the invisible gas that you breathe out. Significantly, and contrary to popular opinion, most of it is not removed via heat during exercise, or in your faeces, which is actually largely made up of bacteria (including gut microbes), indigestible fibre, cholesterol, old blood and body cells, and water.

Fat is made up of things called Lipids, which are themselves composed of a combination of Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon atoms. This chemical structure of atoms in fat allows the body to store huge quantities of energy. However, when fat is broken down by the body during metabolism into its individual components, it releases the stored energy, allowing it to be used as fuel by the rest of the body. What most people commonly refer to as ‘fat burning’, in reality is purely the process of fat metabolism, but chemically the waste result is simply lots of those Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon atoms. Those atoms get re-combined into Carbon Dioxide (CO₂ – Carbon + Oxygen) and Water (H₂O – Hydrogen + Oxygen), with the Carbon Dioxide gas being removed from your body during the natural bodily function of breathing, and the Water either being urinated, sweated or cried out, or expelled as part of your pooh.

Studies published from researchers at the University of Chicago (2009) and the University of New South Wales (2014), tracing the precise pathways of atoms through the human body, concluded that for every 1kg of fat ‘burnt’ by the body, around 700 to 800g is breathed out in the form of Carbon Dioxide, and the rest removed as water. However, you can’t simply breathe harder or faster to lose weight. The fat needs to be metabolised first, and there are only two ways to force your body to do that. Firstly and primarily, you need to less, limiting the calories available to the body to fuel itself, and as a result the body will release the energy stored within your fat to make up the difference. Secondly, you can exercise, helping to raise the energy requirements of your body beyond that which your food intake is supplying, thereby increasing the rate at which body fat is metabolised.

Put simply, weight loss can be summed up in a single phrase… “Eat less, move more”.