How do our bodies get rid of the fat we lose? Most people (even a lot of professionals) don’t know and just make guesses such as feces, urine/sweat, and heat. But the actual scientific explanation is that most fat is lost via breathing, specifically the exhalation of each breath.
In this post, I will briefly explain how breathing is linked to weight loss and give some tips to bump up your weight loss without adding much time or effort.
How Fat Leaves the Body
Before we continue, we need to revisit high school chemistry class. Oxidation is when one thing is combined with oxygen. So when something is oxidized, its chemical structure actually changes and it is turned into a different element. This is the same for the fat in our bodies.
When fats or excess carbs and proteins (which turn into fat) are consumed, the fats are stored in the body as triglycerides which are composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon molecules.
Inhaling oxygen oxidizes these triglycerides, breaking them into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O (water). 86% of the triglycerides turn into CO2 when oxidized and the remaining 14% turn into H2O (Meerman & Brown, 2014).
Therefore, the vast majority of fat leaves the body as exhaled carbon dioxide while the remaining leaves the body as a form of water (urine, sweat, tears, etc.).
So how do we capitalize on breathing to promote weight loss?
5 Tips for Breathing to Lose Fat
- MOVE and EXERCISE – Since breathing causes fat to “burn”, the more oxygen we inhale and exhale, the more fat we will burn off. Exercise (and movement in general) requires more oxygen consumption, therefore ridding the body of more fat.
- Breathe through your nose – Nasal breathing is actually the most efficient way to breathe. Since the nose is smaller than the mouth, nasal breathing is slower and deeper, allowing the body to remove more CO2. Conversely, mouth breathing is often quick and shallow and can result in hyperventilation which is inefficient breathing.
- Walk outside every day – Walking is a relatively easy form of cardio which is perfect for practicing nasal breathing, and being in nature with trees and plants provides plenty of fresh oxygen. Try to walk for 10 to 15 (or more!) minutes, only breathing through your nose. If you have to breathe through your mouth, pause and catch your breath until you can resume nasal breathing.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing – Diaphragmatic breathing allows more oxygen into your body than chest breathing. To practice, sit straight but comfortably in your chair and place your hands over your belly and the bottom of your rib cage. As you inhale, concentrate on pushing your belly out. As you exhale, concentrate on pulling your belly back in. Do this for several minutes, a few times a day to get into the habit of deep breathing.
- Concentrate on the exhale – When you exhale, try to hold the exhale for as long as you can so you get rid of all the air in your lungs. This can allow the body to remove more CO2 and will also make room for even more oxygen on your next inhale, promoting a cycle of healthy breathing. Try this for several breaths, a few times a day.
Changing a breathing habit can take a while, but practicing these tips can help you become a more efficient breather, bringing more oxygen into your body and getting rid of stored fat.
If you’re looking for a personal trainer to travel to your home and you live in or around central Maryland or are interested in an online program, contact me here.
See ya next time!
When somebody loses weight, where does the fat go?