Where does my 2 pounds of fat go every night?

Every evening and morning I weigh myself.  In the morning I am exactly 2 pounds lighter than the night before.  The only explanation I had for my weight loss was I expending energy by tossing and turning while I slept.  

Turns out I don’t toss and turn . . . I breathe. 

And turns out I’m not alone in my ignorance: 150 doctors, dietitians and personal trainers surveyed shared this surprising gap in their health literacy. “Some thought fat turns into muscle, which is impossible, and others assumed it escapes via the colon. Only three of our respondents gave the right answer, which means 98% of the health professionals in our survey could not explain how weight loss works.”
“The most common misconception by far, was that fat is converted to energy. The problem with this theory is that it violates the law of conservation of matter, which all chemical reactions obey.”
So if not energy, muscles or the loo, where does my fat go every night?

The enlightening facts about fat metabolism

“The correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.”
“If you lose 10 pounds of fat, precisely 8.4 pounds comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6 pounds turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.”

My fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water!

“This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat comes back out via the lungs. Every carbohydrate you digest and nearly all the fats are converted to carbon dioxide and water. The same goes for alcohol.
Protein shares the same fate, except for the small part that turns into urea and other solids, which you excrete as urine.”
“The only thing in food that makes it to your colon undigested and intact is dietary fibre (think corn). Everything else you swallow is absorbed into your bloodstream and organs and, after that, it’s not going anywhere until you’ve vaporized it.”

Kilograms in versus kilograms out

“We all learn that “energy in equals energy out” in high school. But energy is a notoriously confusing concept, even among health professionals and scientists who study obesity.”

“The good news is that you exhale 200 grams (7 ounces) of carbon dioxide while you’re fast asleep every night, so you’ve already breathed out a quarter of your daily target before you even step out of bed.”

Eat less, exhale more

If my fat turns into carbon dioxide, could breathing more make me lose weight?

“Unfortunately not. Huffing and puffing more than you need to is called hyperventilation and will only make you dizzy, or possibly faint. The only way you can consciously increase the amount of carbon dioxide your body is producing is by moving your muscles.”

“But here’s some more good news. Simply standing up and getting dressed more than doubles your metabolic rate. In other words, if you simply tried on all your outfits for 24 hours, you’d exhale more than 1,200 grams (42 ounces) of carbon dioxide.”

“More realistically, going for a walk triples your metabolic rate, and so will cooking, vacuuming and sweeping.”

Cooking!  Vacuuming!  Sweeping!  No way.

I’m going to go to bed for a week and breathe . . .

judy

Eat as much as you want, just not WHAT you want

A standard prescription for weight loss is to reduce the amount of calories you consume. In a new study, published in JAMA*, people who ate lots of vegetables and whole foods rather than processed ones lost weight without worrying about calories or portion size.

It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

“The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. . . .. their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup or on their tolerance for carbs or fat.”

The study compared  how overweight and obese people would fare on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets . . .  and tested the hypothesis — suggested by previous studies — that some people are predisposed to do better on one diet over the other depending on their genetics and their ability to metabolize carbs and fat. (A growing number of services have capitalized on this idea by offering people personalized nutrition advice tailored to their genotypes.)

The participants were encouraged to meet the federal guidelines for physical activity but did not generally increase their exercise levels,

The new study stands apart from many previous weight-loss trials because it did not set extremely restrictive carbohydrate, fat or caloric limits on people and emphasized that they focus on eating whole or “real” foods — as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry.

They did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

“Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study did not support a “precision medicine” approach to nutrition, but that future studies would be likely to look at many other genetic factors that could be significant. He said the most important message of the study was that a “high quality diet” produced substantial weight loss and that the percentage of calories from fat or carbs did not matter, which is consistent with other studies, including many that show that eating healthy fats and carbs can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.”

Read the New York Times story

*led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. It was a large and expensive trial, carried out on more than 600 people with $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Nutrition Science Initiative and other groups.

SaveSave

SaveSave