The Surprising Truth Of Where Fat Goes When You Lose Weight

We’re a culture obsessed with two things. Fatty foods and losing weight. Burgers are delicious but now we need to hit the gym three times a week. We have numerous studies on what makes us fat, and how to lose it, but we only have the fuzziest of notions of where fat actually goes as we burn it off. “It turns into muscle right?”

Most just say it gets turned into energy or heat. But the truth is far more interesting.

A UNSW Australia study shows that most of our fat is breathed out.

“The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air,” says the study’s lead author, Ruben Meerman, a physicist and Australian TV science presenter told Science Daily.

The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air.

The paper that was published in British Medical Journal today show that losing 10 kilograms of fat requires 29 kilograms of oxygen to be inhaled. From there the process makes 28 kilos of carbon dioxide while a further 11 kilograms is turned into water.

“The fact that almost nobody could answer it took me by surprise,” Ruben says. “but it was only when I showed Andrew my calculations that we both realised how poorly this topic is being taught.”

The belief that fat is turned into energy and heat goes against the laws of conservation of mass, and that this mistaken belief of weight loss was probably a misconception “caused by the energy in/energy out mantra surrounding weight loss,” says Mr Meerman.

However, don’t think that breathing really quick while sitting on the sofa will help you get rid of that excess weight. All that will happen is that you’ll take in more oxygen than your motabolism needs and start hyperventilating.

Sorry! No way to cheat your way out of this one!

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