Weight loss, where does that weight go?

Have you ever wondered when we lose weight, where does it go? Turning it into energy is the common preconception but chemistry doesn’t work that way, you can’t create energy from mass (easily). Have a read through this article by science alert.

Turns out we breathe out most of our weight as Carbon Dioxide(CO2). This is probably why high intensity cardio vascular exercise is encouraged for weight loss, you breathe more and therefore expel more carbon. If you are weighing yourself as an indicator of weight loss, it’s generally recommended to weigh yourself at the same time of day under roughly the same conditions. For example, I weight myself in the morning, after I’ve gone to the toilet and just before I jump into the shower (so I’m naked). Have you ever weighed yourself during the day and observed the fluctuations? Or if you are female, have noticed a few kilo’s creep on just before that time of month? Our weight varies, alot.

We breathe in oxygen and out comes CO2, where does that carbon come from? Nearly everything we eat is based on carbon. CARBoyhydrates get their name from CARBon. Sugars are simple, short chained and are easy for us to turn into fuel for our bodies to do things with, that’s why we think they are tasty. Alcohol is like a sugar but with an alcohol molecule added to the end of it. Fat’s are more complicated but still based on carbon chains just linked together a little differently. Proteins are even more complicated (your DNA helps create proteins and that’s pretty complicated stuff). The field of science that is based on the study of carbon based chemistry is called organic chemistry and we aren’t just talking about organic fruit and veg here either. Plastics and fuel for your car also fall under organic chemistry.

Trees consume CO2, so by losing weight you are encouraging trees to grow. Fancy that.

Salts are an example of chemicals we consume that aren’t based on carbon and they are useful for many other things in your body; from you heart pumping to your nerve’s transmitting pain signals. Think; anything electrical needs salt. While I’m on the subject of salt, there is actually no conclusive scientific information that too much salt is bad for you, don’t believe me? watch this.

People tend to weigh less in the morning then at night time. This means most of your weight loss happens when you are sleeping. What’s happening when you sleep? Your body is repairing itself. In the brain there is a build of chemicals during they day that can be toxic if they aren’t cleared out of the system on a regular basis. Listen to Tell me something I don’t know from 22:41 to listen from a sleep doctor about this.

When you are sleeping, it’s like your body does a stocktake of it self. It goes, “hmm, how much fuel do I need to do stuff with?”. If you have consumed excess fuel, your body is going to store it for later. If you haven’t consumed enough fuel, you body will breakdown fuel from storage, use it and breathe it out. It feels like there is a preference to store fuel, evolutionarily speaking this is easy for us to do and it has helped us survive as a species. Our bodies have many different tactics it can deploy to ensure survival. For example, starvation mode is a state your body can go into to preserve energy. E.g. with my recent rapid weight loss from surgery my menstrual cycle was out of whack. It’s like my body went, “CRISIS, CRISIS, we are in starvation mode, we do not have enough resources to sustain another human being, put the breaks on the baby making machine NOW”. My menstrual cycle seems to be back to a regular rhythm now.

So “burning energy” is not really an accurate scientific term but it’s all chemistry.

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