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May 03, 2023 5 min read
Losing weight is a common goal for many people, but have you ever wondered where your body fat actually goes when you shed those extra pounds?
Is it burned off as energy, does it change into muscles when you work out, or does it simply vanish into thin air?
Surprisingly, the answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. In fact, the fate of your body fat after weight loss has been the subject of much scientific inquiry and debate.
I have delved into the research and discovered some fascinating facts about what happens to your body fat when you lose weight.
So, if you're curious about the science behind weight loss and want to understand where your body fat goes when you shed those extra pounds, keep reading!
Okay, so here's the deal with losing fat – your body breaks it down into carbon dioxide and water. You breathe out the carbon dioxide and the water gets mixed into your bodily fluids until it comes out as pee or sweat.
When you lose 10 pounds of fat, about 8.4 pounds leave your body through your breath and the rest turns into water.
Just so you know, losing fat doesn't mean you're magically turning it into muscle. They're entirely different things, and you can't switch one for the other.
People often believe fat converts into energy during exercise or when they reduce their calorie intake. Despite being partially accurate, there is a more precise explanation of what happens to fat after it leaves the body.
An article in BMJ refers to the book “Big Fat Myths,” by Ruben Meerman, an Australian physicist, who argues that this traditional belief violates the law of conservation of mass.
But don’t think that breathing more can help you shed those extra pounds by converting fat into carbon dioxide.
Hyperventilating, or breathing excessively, can lead to dizziness or fainting and does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the body.
The only way to consciously enhance the production of carbon dioxide is through muscle movement.
Fat cells are basically a source of energy that our body uses to move around and do stuff. Plus, they also act as a shield for our vital organs and help keep us warm.
But when we eat more (consume more calories) than what our body requires, the extra energy is stored as fat. And if this keeps happening, the stored fat continues to accumulate, and we end up gaining weight.
Your body has two types of adipose tissue or body fat. The first type is called white adipose tissue, and it's responsible for storing energy and releasing fatty acids when your body needs fuel. This type of fat is mostly found under your skin and around your organs.
It is also called visceral fat, and it accumulates around your organs, mostly causing weight gain in the midsection, aka belly fat. So, if you're looking to lose weight, targeting this type of fat might be a good place to start!
Interestingly, the second type of fat is actually good for you. It's called brown adipose tissue, and it plays a key role in regulating your body's temperature.
Unlike regular white fat, which stores energy, brown fat actually burns calories to keep you warm. And that's not all – brown fat also has more capillaries than white fat, which means it helps transport important nutrients and oxygen throughout your body.
In a nutshell, the purpose of fat cells is to store energy for future needs. Additionally, fat serves as a means of insulating the body and protecting its organs.
Over time, if the stored energy is not used, it is processed into triglycerides, which results in a fat surplus that can affect your body shape and health.
Overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle, however, can lead to fat cells building up and causing weight gain and even obesity.
The human body utilizes energy in various ways, some of which may surprise you.
Even while you're at rest, your heart, lungs, and brain require energy to function, which is known as basal metabolism.
When you're physically active, whether it's simply standing up from a seated position or running a full marathon, your muscles require energy. And it gets it through fat metabolism or fat burning.
Additionally, when you consume food, your digestive system requires energy to break down and store the nutrients.
When you exercise, your body fat goes through a process where muscles burn stored glycogen for energy. This process is further enhanced as exercise increases blood flow to both muscles and fat cells.
As a result, fats are released at a faster rate and used for energy in muscle cells, leading to higher energy expenditure.
To achieve weight loss goals, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests engaging in at least 150–250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This equates to roughly 30–50 minutes of exercise, spread out over 5 days each week.
Physical activities that accelerate fat loss through sweat and exhalation include:
They also recommend resistance training, strength training, and weightlifting such as:
Resistance bands exercises
Using an elliptical machine.
Incorporating a calorie-restricted and nutrient-rich diet with a suitable exercise routine can increase the likelihood of fat loss, rather than relying solely on diet or exercise alone.
Additionally, building muscle mass can aid in burning more calories and potentially elevate your basic metabolic rate.
Exercise also enhances your respiratory rate, allowing for the elimination of more CO2 from your body during physical activity.
This is where it all comes together, and also the nitty-gritty of our initial question – “Where Does Your Body Fat Go When You Lose Weight?”
During the process of breaking down body fat for energy, complex processes within the cells release two major byproducts, namely carbon dioxide, and water.
The process of breathing excretes carbon dioxide, while the body eliminates water through sweating, urine, or exhaled air.
When exercising, the elimination of these byproducts increases significantly due to increased breathing and sweating.
It can be quite challenging to maintain weight loss, and one of the reasons for this is the nature of fat cells in our bodies.
Essentially, when we consume more calories than our body can burn, our fat cells increase in both size and number.
Conversely, when we lose weight, the number of fat cells remains the same, but their size can decrease.
However, this also means that the fat cells are still present, and without proper efforts to maintain weight loss, they can easily become packed with fat again and grow in size.
Studies suggest that this phenomenon may be a significant reason why many people struggle to keep weight off.
For weight loss, diet and exercise are key.
Consuming fewer calories to create a sufficient calorie deficit causes fats to be released from fat cells and used as energy to exercise, which increases sweating and breathing — thereby helping you to lose fat.
However, keep in mind that your body composition and food intake requirements are unique to you, and your overall wellness should not be disregarded in your quest to lose weight.
If you're looking for something to help your body burn more fat, consider adding Shredded-AF to your daily routine.
SHREDDED-AF is an advanced multistage thermogenic that focuses on boosting metabolism, suppressing cravings, and providing all-day energy and mental clarity without the crash.