Here’s What Actually Happens to Fat When You Lose Weight

In your spare time, do you ever sit and ponder some of the great mysteries in life? What’s the meaning of life or death? Are aliens real? How did that ridge under our noses get there, and what’s it for?

There are some serious questions out here whose answers may still elude us. There are also questions out here you didn’t realize you wanted asked and answered. Today, we have a fine example of that: where does fat go when we lose weight? Hint: it’s not all in the toilet. This is a good one. . .

Physicist Ruben Meerman teamed up with another researcher to delve into the answer. A survey given to doctors, nutritionists, and personal trainers revealed that the majority believe that fat is converted into energy when we burn it. Wrong.

Most of us have a basic understanding of metabolism and how it works. We turn food into energy and that energy powers our bodies. In terms of weight, many of us think about our metabolism being slow, average, or fast and how it affects what we release or store.

Specifically with weight loss, we’re talking about fat. We curse slow metabolism for our love handles and muffin tops, and thank fast metabolism when we drop pounds. When someone asks, “Where do you put all that food?”, some of us answer that we simply burn it off.

What Dr. Meerman’s study demonstrated was that we do indeed release the fat, but it leaves primarily through the lungs as converted carbon dioxide. Nearly 80% of it! Additional fat is released as a waste product through urine, tears, sweat, or other fluids. With increased metabolic activity, we lose weight.

How? Through breathing, sleeping, and physical activity. Exercise and other activities that get us moving like vacuuming, getting dressed, or dancing contribute to us pushing out more CO₂. Your lungs are doing most of the work when it comes to losing fat. Go figure!

The example Meerman uses states that in order for a person to lose 10kg (22 pounds), he would need to expel 8.4 kg of CO₂ through movement and calorie reduction. That’s because of how fat triglycerides break down chemically in the body. Since triglycerides are made of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, they turn into water and mostly carbon dioxide during that breakdown process.

He concluded his study by saying that emphasis should be placed on these facts when discussing weight loss and metabolism in schools. Just thinking about this is forcing us to mentally revisit high school science class where we learned the process of metabolism. It’s still a little rusty though.

What does all this mean? Exercise and other forms of movement are your best bet if you’re trying to shed some pounds. Hyperventilating won’t cut it, but jogging, sports, and household chores will! Combine that with a healthy, junk-free diet, and your body will do the rest.

Were you in the camp that thought fat turned into energy? Did you believe that all fat leaves through waste elimination? What do you think about this study’s reminder on how weight is lost?