If you're like most people you are hoping to start the New Year by losing a few pounds. However, did you ever stop to wonder just where those pounds go when you lose them? Turns out most experts don't know either, and the answer may surprise you.
Most people think that when we burn fat it creates heat and energy, but that's not true. Instead, the majority of the fat we burn leaves through our lungs when we breathe – the more you breathe the more fat you can burn (providing of course you're eating consciously). And what's the best way to increase respiration? That's right, exercise! So although exercise promotes weight loss by boosting metabolism and building muscle, simply increasing the number of breaths you take is going to help release those unwanted pounds from your body.
A recent Australian study was able to show exactly where our fat goes when we lose weight. For every 22 pounds of weight lost, more than 18 pounds are exhaled as carbon dioxide. The rest leaves as water through urine, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluid. The extra breathing you do when you exercise unlocks the carbon atoms found in fat, thus breaking the fat molecules down. The carbon then leaves through your lungs.
On average, people breathe about 12 times a minute when at rest, which takes with it 10 milligrams of carbon. If you're completely sedentary and not going above that 12 breaths a minute it will put a cap on how much fat you can release.
And in case you're wondering, losing weight is not contributing to climate change. It is simply returning carbon atoms that previously had been trapped in food to the atmosphere.
How you gain weight
We gain weight when we eat more food than we need. Those excess carbohydrates and proteins are converted into triglycerides (compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen), which are stored in lipid droplets inside fat cells. Losing weight requires breaking down those triglycerides to access their carbon.
Making triglycerides is an energy demanding process. Do you ever feel sleepy after a high-carbohydrate meal, like a big plate of pasta, a bowl or rice, a large dessert, or maybe simply too much food? That tired feeling stems in part from the energy your body requires to make triglycerides that can be stored as fat.
Other weight loss tips
Naturally, you want to avoid that sleepy feeling, not only because naps are inappropriate at your work desk, but also because you're making fat! Try reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat and/or the amount of food to avoid that fat-promoting sleepy feeling. If you still feel sleepy after eating a healthy meal of moderate portion size and sensible carbohydrate content, you may need nutritional support to address insulin resistance. Ask my office for advice – some nutrients and herbs are very effective at helping stabilize blood sugar.
Regular exercise not only helps you breathe away excess fat, but it also better sensitizes and regulates cell function to be fat burning rather than fat promoting.
The key to promoting fat burning is to keep your blood sugar stable by not overdoing carbohydrates or portion sizes and by keeping your body active.
Ask my office for more advice on how to turn your body into a better fat burner.
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