Can You Really Lose Weight Just by Breathing?

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Lose the baby weight just by breathing? Why yes! Er, but probably only a tiny bit.

Published in the always-lighthearted Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, a report by researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia says that you can lose weight just by breathing, and Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown have calculated just how much, according to a report by “The Today Show.”

Their calculations show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat, so that when 22 pounds of fat are fully broken down — in a process called oxidation — 18.5 pounds of it leave the body as exhaled carbon dioxide and the rest is breathed out as water vapor. The men say that most people assume that fat is converted into energy or heat, when it actually breaks down into the elements of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. These three elements make up the building blocks of living matter.

This clarifies why exercise helps people shed pounds. Exercise speeds up breathing and the more breaths you take, the more carbon you lose. The good news is that you also lose a little sitting on the couch watching television or even while you are sleeping. The bad news is, it’s not very much. So before you celebrate with that extra cookie, keep in mind that one pound of body weight equals 3200 calories.

Meerman and Brown caution that physical activity as a weight-loss strategy can easily be derailed by relatively small quantities of excess food, so the advice for weight management remains the same even if you don’t quite understand the science behind it. It still comes down to the basic theory of eating less and moving more.

Photo: Getty