Weight Loss, Where Does the Fat Go?

Weight loss – there are hundreds of diets being pushed on you the second you even hint you might want to drop some of that ugly fat.

I’m not going to give you a new diet, or tell you which one I think is best.

What I want to do is show you how little your health care professional, doctor, dietitian, exercise guru, etc., actually knows about weight loss and therefore just how much you should rely on their “scientific” weight loss advice.

This brief chemistry lesson won’t help you lose weight unless you recall that when you really exercise you breathe deeper and more often and therefore anything which causes you to breathe more could be contributing directly to weight loss.

Also, you have probably read thousands of words about various diets and how they are supposed to work miracles so why not waste five minutes learning about the science behind weight loss?

According to various surveys health care “professionals” say that when your diet causes you to lose weight by eliminating fat (or muscle) it either is converted to energy (violating the conservation of matter) or leaves your body via deposits in your toilet.

body fat loss and weight loss
no body fat, weight loss

Fat Chemistry

Fat in the body is not all exactly the same, but the chemical formula for all body fat is quite similar, varying only a very small amount from the average fat molecule which consists of 58 atoms of carbon, 112 atoms of hydrogen, and 6 oxygen molecules.

When you “burn” (oxidize) that fat molecule a tiny amount of energy is released but it is the energy of the chemical bonds which are broken and those which are formed. The number and weight of atoms remains exactly the same, so lost weight isn’t converted into energy.

Here, in fact, is the balanced chemical equation showing what happens when a fat molecule is consumed and the resulting molecules are expelled from your body.

O2 + C58H112O6 ⇒ CO2 + H2O + energy

The chemical formula shown above simply states that when your body ads oxygen to fat it turns into water and a gas.

That is it chemically, you breathe in a bit of oxygen when your body seeks energy to live and move and combines that molecule of oxygen with one molecule of fat to produce the small amount of energy and the remainder is turned into plain water and carbon dioxide.

Now technically that chemical formula above isn’t precisely an equation, the exact equation uses a lot more oxygen to balance – you don’t burn a single molecule of body fat with just two atoms of oxygen so for nit pickers the actual chemistry involved is shown here.

58 carbon atoms need 116 oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide.

112 hydrogen atoms need 56 oxygen atoms to make all the water produced, so an accurate equation is

86 O2 + 1 C58 H112 O6 58 ⇒ CO2 + 56 H2O + energy

But that level of detail is not relevant – the simple fact is that when the fat is burned by adding oxygen, just like when you burn paper by adding oxygen and heat to it, what you get isn’t poop, it is water vapor and carbon dioxide.

Weight Loss

You may have thought, as many healthcare professionals apparently do, that some of the fat is converted to urine, but all you need to do is breathe on your glasses or a water glass to see that you are exhaling a lot of water with each breath.

You might also apply your newly earned knowledge by recalling the facts when someone tells you how to lose weight you ask them what happens to the fat you eliminate and, knowing that it is exhaled, consider their diet advice in light of how they explain where the lost weight goes.

If you are as geeky as I am you might want to learn more about the chemistry involved.