Did You Know You Actually Breathe Out Fat?

   |  Updated: December 30, 2014 10:01 IST

Did You Know You Actually Breathe Out Fat?

There exists a whole lot of information that one can easily access and start following in order to lose weight and become fit. From the kind of physical activity one should indulge in to tailor-made diet plans. Unfortunately, while all of us strive hard to achieve our personal fitness goal every day, very few may have wondered how this process of losing weight actually works. Having followed strict diet plans and undergone training for months, when we finally see ourselves fit into a smaller size, we barely think of what happened to the fat that once weighed us down. The One-Minute Wonder Workout!

So, where did it all go? Does it become something else and stays within us or does it flush itself out of our body?

A new study throws the spotlight on the science behind weight-loss. You will be surprised to know that almost 80% percent of burned fat exits our body in the form of carbon dioxide. Yes! Our lungs act as the primary excretory organ for unwanted fat.

Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown at the University of New South Wales set out to explore how we lose weight and how it affects our body. It is true that when we workout and sweat, our heart rate goes up and that results in burning calories. But where do those burned calories and fat go? A lot of us, including medical practitioners all across the globe, believe that we sweat out the calories we burn, or the classic belief remains that the burned calories get converted into energy. According to Meerman and Brown, the above mentioned facts are correct only to some extent. We do sweat out fat but there are other modes as well through which it is emitted out of our body like urine and tears. Also, only close of 20 percent of the total fat burned is emitted out in form of fluids, rest of it, we exhale!

The science explained

To understand the phenomenon better, first let's see what body fat is made of. Human fat cells store triglyceride, which consists of three kinds of atoms; carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Shedding unwanted fat requires unlocking the atoms present in triglyceride molecules by a process known as oxidation.

Researchers traced each atom's way out of the body. It was found that when 10 kg of fat was fully oxidized, 8.4 kg departed as carbon dioxide while the remaining became water. Further analysis showed that the inhaled oxygen required for this metabolic process weighs nearly three times more than the fat being 'lost'.

According to experts, "Physical activity as a weight loss strategy is, therefore, easily foiled by relatively small quantities of excess food, Keeping the weight off simply requires that you put less back in by eating than what you've exhaled by breathing,"

In simple words, fat is lost mostly in form of carbon dioxide and in order to get rid of it, the body requires equal amount of carbon dioxide. To completely oxidise 10 kg of human fat, 29 kg of oxygen must be inhaled producing a total of 28 kg of carbon dioxide and 11 kg of water. Therefore, it can be said that to maintain healthy weight, one needs to strike a balance between the calories consumed and calories lost. Any imbalance would therefore result in disproportionate weight. Harvard Study: Many Reasons to Eat Less!

Experts speak

"None of this biochemistry is new, but for unknown reasons it seems nobody has thought of performing these calculations before. The quantities make perfect sense but we were surprised by the numbers that popped out," the study authors wrote in the journal BMJ.

"These results show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for weight loss. The water formed may be excreted in the urine, faeces, sweat, breath, tears, or other bodily fluids and is readily replenished, The exhaled carbon can only be replaced by eating food or consuming beverages such as milk, fruit juices or sugar-sweetened drinks," the authors added.

What happens while sleeping?

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When in resting condition, an average person weighing 70 kg would exhale around 200 ml of carbon dioxide in 12 breaths per minute. Each of those breaths would therefore give away 33 mg of carbon dioxide of which 8.9 mg would be carbon. By simply exhaling 17,280 times, an average person loses at least 200 grams of carbon every day and roughly a third of that weight loss is achieved during eight hours of sleep.

In case you don't want to be bothered by all these complicated calculations, just set your fitness mantra right - Burn what you eat and strike a balance, rest will follow!


Inputs from PTI

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