Where does fat go when you lose it? Mainly out of your mouth.
For someone who has been involved in physical fitness activities for decades, I was surprised to find that I didnt know the precise answer to this question. There is was in my daily news update from MIT Technology Review.
All of us know that we store fat as backup energy in case we need it. This is part of our ancient biological heritage. We have bodies designed for life thousands of years ago, but existing in a situation of overabundance.
Fat stores allowed many of our ancestors to survive when food became scarce. These days food is available almost everywhere, and instead of struggling to find food, many are battling to drop excess fat.
When we burn fat, how does it leave our bodies?
Basically when you are in a fat burning mode, your bod releases fat molecules into the blood stream. These travel to the heart, lungs, and muscles to be broken down and used as energy to support our physical activities and baseline metabolism.
The pounds we drop are shed as the waste products of body metabolism. These are water which exits the body in urine and carbon dioxide which exits through the lungs when you exhale. In short, a lot of your fat is excreted when you breathe.
I found it intriguing that many old cures for being overweight stressed deep breathing. This approach can be found in yoga, advice from old time strongmen, and in a more recent (1990s) program called Oxycize by Jill R Johnson.
One bit of advice on deep breathing advice from the old-time strongmen that I have begun using is the practice of taking a deep breath and pushing it into the lower lungs, then consciously trying to push the breath into your legs. It sounds quirky, but I find it rejuvenating when Im out walkingor sitting at my desk writing about it.
Back in the 90s I encountered Jill R Johnsons program that used many of the same ideas involving deep breathing and pushing oxygen to different places in the body. I was able to use this during my half hour drive to work.
Over time I stopped using deep breathing as a conscious exercise program. After all, I ran a lot (plenty of deep breathing there) and did weight training workouts that left me gasping.
Why do I find this approach interesting now?
First, I have no issue with body fat as Im 510 and about 170-75 pounds. I run regularly and do a lot of high rep kettlebell work. But, I believe there are fitness benefits beyond fat loss.
I find the breathing work when Im doing office type activity feels good. It helps my mental clarity and leaves me mentally sharp. I never have that bag of wet sand or brain dead feeling.
Second, I suspect that like many of the old-time fitness solutions, deep breathing has been sent to the dust bin of history because it wasnt marketable. No equipment needed. No t-shirts proclaiming, I have great lungs.
Third, doing deep breathing requires a level of mental focus and concentration that are difficult for most of us who are used to the pattern of either frantic activity (workouts) or being completely sedentary. We are impatient with anything that does not seem like intense activity.
Perhaps another reason that deep breathing does not attract legions of fans is that there is not a clear measurable relationship between the practice and the results. Contrast this with seeing increases that you get from lifting weights. Easily measured in pounds lifted and perhaps pounds (of fat) lost.
IMHO, we all tend to isolate our fitness program from other parts of our life. If we are shopping for groceries, I suspect that we believe it is not the time to be doing deep breathing exercises any more than we feel it is appropriate to be doing one leg squats.
Perhaps we can gain some modest advantage in our quest for health and fitness by doing some deep breathing exercise as we shop for (healthy) food, driving or sitting at our desk, or elsewhere in our daily routine.
After all, no one will see what you are doing. You simply have a stealth program that you can do entirely out of sight.