You'll never guess where your fat goes when you lose weight

By Kim Abrahams
22 June 2017

Contrary to what you might think, excess fat is not converted into energy when exercising.

Whether it took months of huffing and puffing, sweating away on the treadmill, or weeks of carefully following an eating plan, seeing the kilos fall off your body is the best feeling ever.

But have you ever thought about where exactly the fat goes? It’s not as if we can physically detach the excess fat from out body (even though we wish we could!) or literally see it melt away.

Scientists have now revealed where the unwanted weight goes after you've exercised and dieted it away: It disappears into thin air.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have found that once fat has been broken down, most of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide.

But before you go into a breathing frenzy, rapid panting won't make you lose weight. Breathing isn't how you lose the fat, it's simply the last step in the metabolic process: excretion.

“There are surprising ignorance and confusion about the metabolic process of weight loss,” says Professor Andrew Brown, head of the university’s School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.

In the team's research paper, published in the British Medical Journal, the authors explain that for every 10 kg of fat "lost", 8,4 kg was exhaled as carbon dioxide through the lungs and the remaining 1,6 kg became water that was excreted through urination, sweat, faeces, breath or other bodily fluids.

Read more: Frequent exercise won’t make you lose weight

So, while exercising and dieting breaks down the fat, breath and moisture is the way in which your body gets rid of it once it's been broken down.

“With a worldwide obesity crisis occurring, we should all know the answer to the simple question of where the fat goes,” says Ruben Meerman, leader researcher in the study.

“The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air.”


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