The healthy way to lose weight is through a well-balanced diet and sticking to a great exercise plan. But have you ever wondered where all the fat goes once you lose the weight? The fat that your body burns is converted into energy – or so we think.
Surprisingly, this is not entirely true. A study in the British Medical Journal found that weight lost undergoes several chemical reactions and is breathed out by the lungs.
According to the study, 10 kilograms of fat turns into about 8.4kg of carbon dioxide, which is exhaled when we breathe; and 1.6kg of water, which we release through urine, tears, sweat and other bodily fluids.
But then, how do you put on weight?
You put on weight when excess carbohydrates and proteins that you’ve eaten are converted into triglycerides (compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen), and are then stored in lipid droplets (storage organelles) inside fat cells.
To lose weight, you need to break down those triglycerides to access their carbon.
Almost everything we eat comes back out through the lungs. Every carbohydrate and nearly all the fats are converted to carbon dioxide and water. This goes for alcohol, too. The researcher’s calculations found that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat.
How fat loss works
This doesn’t mean that by simply breathing more you could lose weight!
Hyperventilation (excessive huffing and puffing) will only make you dizzy, or possibly faint. Instead, you’re breathing out fat metabolic byproducts as carbon dioxide, not actual fat cells.
You can increase the amount of carbon dioxide your body is producing by moving your muscles. According to Fatima Cody Stanford, an Obesity Medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, when someone starts losing weight, the size of their fat cells decrease, but they don’t disappear entirely. They really just shrink.
So when you lose weight, your body tries to regain that weight to get back to its normal state. So you might experience decreases in how full you feel and increases in how hungry you feel.
Exercise can help prevent fat cells from getting bigger again. Therefore, working out helps keep any weight regain in check. When you’re on your weight loss journey, be gentle with your body to allow it to get used to the new routine. If not, it might go into self-sabotage mode.