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Health and happiness

The Surprising Truth About Where Your Fat Goes When You Lose Weight

By Laura April 21, 2016

Weight loss, slim down, get lean - we're constantly bombarded with articles about how to maintain a healthy weight and live the healthiest life we can, and for some of us that can sometimes mean losing a few extra pounds. 

Here at Move we believe life is about happiness, balance and freedom at any weight, but despite the almost obsessive nature we have with the quest for the perfect body, there's a surprising amount of confusion when it comes to where the fat actually goes when we lose weight.

Before you read any further, have a think of your best answer to this question. Where does the fat actually go when you lose weight?

I conducted my own mini experiment and asked a group of people where they think fat goes when you lose weight and was met by a lot of bewildered faces, a few attempts at the answer (it gets burnt and used as energy, it turns into muscle and even you excrete it all popped up) and even fewer people who knew the correct answer. Which one would you have picked?

So where does it go?

It quite literally disappears into thin air. 

Yep, when you lose weight, you actually exhale your surplus mass as Carbon Dioxide.

In a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, Professor Andrew Brown, head of the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences and Ruben Meerman, physicist and Australian TV science presenter found that losing 10 kilograms of fat requires 29 kilograms of oxygen to be inhaled and that this metabolic process produces 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water.

The studies authors reported that If you follow the atoms in 10 kilograms of fat as they are ‘lost’, 8.4 of those kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide. The remaining 1.6 kilograms becomes water, which may be excreted in urine, faeces, sweat, breath, tears and other bodily fluids. 

So there you have it, now you know exactly what is happening as you watch the scale go down!

FYI - this doesn't mean you should start breathing more in order to increase weight loss, this can lead to hyperventilation, heart palpitations and even loss of consciousness in some cases. So keep calm and carry on just empowered with your new found knowledge! 


Written by Laura

After 3 years of excess at uni took a serious toll on my waistline and wellbeing, I found that a love for strength training, HIIT and spin classes were key to keeping me healthy and happy. I'm at the forefront of finding out and creating awesome stuff about health, fitness and happiness and when I'm not at work I love nothing more than pizza and prosecco in the sun with friends. What motivates me? Knowing that life is short...


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