Fat Air

The research conducted by a team at UNSW Science in Sydney calculated what happens to our fat when we shed kilos: we don’t convert our missing mass into heat or energy, we breathe it out. We put on weight when excess carbohydrates and proteins that we’ve eaten are converted into triglycerides (compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) and are then stored in fat cells. To lose weight, you need to break down those triglycerides to access their carbon. To completely breakdown 10 kg of human fat we need to inhale 29 kg of oxygen (and somewhere along the way, burn 94,000 calories) in order to turn it into 8.4 kg of carbon dioxide, which is exhaled when we breathe, and 1.6 kg of water, which we then excrete through our urine, sweat and other bodily fluids. “Our calculations show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat.”

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