When you lose weight, where does it go? Turns out, most of it is exhaled.
In a new study, scientists explain the fate of fat in a human body, and through precise calculations, debunk some common misconceptions. Fat doesn't simply "turn into" energy or heat, and it doesn't break into smaller parts and get excreted, the researchers say.
In reality, the body stores the excess protein or carbs in a person's diet in form of fat, specifically, as triglyceride molecules, which consist of just three kinds of atoms: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. For people to lose weight, their triglycerides must break up into building blocks, which happens in a process known as oxidation.
When a triglyceride is oxidized (or "burned up"), the process consumes many molecules of oxygen while producing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) as waste products. [8 Strange Things Scientists Taste and Eat]
So, for example, to burn 10 kilograms (22 lbs.) of fat, a person needs to inhale 29 kg (64 lbs.) of oxygen. And the chemical process of burning that fat will produce 28 kg (62 lbs.) of carbon dioxide and 11 kg (24 lbs.) of water, the researchers calculated.
"None of this biochemistry is new, but for unknown reasons it seems nobody has thought of performing these calculations before," study authors Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown of the University of New South Wales in Australia, said. "The quantities make perfect sense but we were surprised by the numbers that popped out."
The researchers showed that during weight loss, 84 percent of the fat that is lost turns into carbon dioxide and leaves the body through the lungs, whereas the remaining 16 percent becomes water. The results of a study published in a special Christmas issue of the medical journal BMJ show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for weight loss. The water formed may be excreted in the urine, feces, sweat, breath, tears or other bodily fluids, and is readily replenished," the researchers said.
The calculations also show the frightening power of, for example, a small muffin over an hour of exercise: At rest, a person who weighs 154 pounds (70 kg) exhales just 8.9 mg of carbon with each breath. Even after an entire day, if this person only sits, sleeps, and does light activities, he or she exhales about 200 grams of carbon, the researchers calculated.
A 100 g muffin can cover 20 percent of what was lost.
On the other hand, replacing one hour of rest with exercise such as jogging, removes an additional 40 g of carbon from the body, the researchers said.
Even if one traces the fates of all the atoms in the body, the secret to weight loss remains the same: In order to lose weight, one needs to either eat less carbon or exercise more to remove extra carbon from the body.
Yoga and Fat Loss
The reasons below will convince you of the fact behind weight loss associated with breathing exercises in yoga.
- Deep breathing promotes weight loss as deep inhalation fills your lungs with fresh oxygen that gets transferred to all body cells. This increases oxidation and helps in burning fat cells.
- With deep breathing in yoga, oxygen intake in blood increases and the rate at which carbon-dioxide leaves the body slows down, thus giving us more energy to workout.
- Breathing exercises in yoga boosts metabolism. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolic rate. Deep breathing in yoga triggers release of hormones from thyroid gland that stimulate metabolism and thereby indirectly leads to weight loss.
- There are some specific yogic breathing techniques that massages your abdomen and helps burn fat faster around the mid-region.
Yoga breathing exercises for weight loss
Pranayam refers to deep breathing techniques. There is a set of breathing exercises that will effectively help lose weight.
Also known as the Breath of fire technique, this breathing exercise made popular by yog guru Baba Ramdev is a very helpful weight loss exercise. Let us learn how to do it.
- Sit cross-legged on your yoga mat.
- Your body should be straight, an elongated spine, neck and chin up.
- Close your eyes and place hands on your knees in a comfortable position.
- Your abdomen muscles should be completely relaxed, don’t strain them.
- Breathe in deeply and exhale the air out of your nose as if a sniff. When you sniff out the air, you’ll feel your abdomen pulling inwards.
- If you are a starter, practice this breathing exercise upto 30-50 times. Slowly increase the pace and continue upto 5-10 minutes at a stretch.
Don’t do this exercise when having periods or if you are suffering from high blood pressure or any other heart disease.
- Bhastrika Pranayam
This pranayama is meant to provide enough amount of fresh oxygen to your body.
- Sit comfortably on a yoga mat. Your legs should be crossed, one over the other in a padmasana.
- Place hands on your knees with palms facing upwards, the tip of your thumb and ring finger pressing one against the other.
- Take normal breaths and relax.
- Now breathe in deeply with all your strength so that your lung is filled with oxygen.
- Then breathe out forcefully though the nose such that a hissing sound is made.
- Repeat this for 5-10 times.
If you are suffering from any heart disease, consult your doc before practicing this exercise.
- Anulom Vilom Pranayam
This breathing technique is also known as alternate nostril breathing. Lets learn this breathing technique.
- Sit with cross-legged on a mat and relax.
- Close your eyes and keep all your muscles relaxed.
- Now press the right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and breathe in through the left nostril.
- Count until 5 to retain the breath.
- Then close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand and leave the right nostril to let the air exhale through the right nostril.
- Now again inhale through your right nostril while still keeping the left nostril pressed.
- Retain the breath until 5 counts and release air through left nostril.
- This way you complete one round of this pranayama.
- Repeat some 10-15 rounds more.
This exercise should be done in fresh air before having your breakfast. However if you are pregnant or having periods, do not do this exercise.
- Bhramari Pranayam
- Sit on a mat cross-legged in a padmasana.
- Straighten your spine and relax.
- Now with your thumb, close both your ears.
- Use the middle finger of both hands to press lightly on your closed eyes.
- With the index finger, press your temples lightly.
- Place the ring fingers and little fingers on the bridge of your nose.
- Now breathe in deeply through nose and exhale slowly through nose while making a humming sound and chanting OM in your mind.
- Do this exercise for 11-21 times.
- Surya Namaskar
There are twelve steps in Surya Namaskar. Each of these poses is accompanied with sequenced breathing which if done with concentration and accuracy promotes weight loss toning up your entire body.
- Seated Spinal Twist
Also known as Ardha Matsyendrasana, spinal twists works on your abdomen and back.
- Sit on the yoga mat with your legs extended before you. Breathe and relax.
- Bend your right knee and bring the heels as much close to your buttocks as possible.
- Now fold your left knee and cross it over your right knee. Your left foot ankle should be just by the side of your right knee.
- Take your left arm and place it behind you with the palm on the floor.
- Your right arm should be touching the toes of your left foot.
- Now that you have positioned yourself, take in a deep breath and elongate your spine.
- Twist your torso to your left and look over your left shoulder. As you twist exhale.
- Inhale and straighten your spine; exhale and twist.
- Stay for 5 breaths and release the twist.
- Now twist to the other side too.
These poses of yoga for breathing and weight loss will undoubtedly give you long term benefits!