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So Where Does The Fat Go After Losing Weight? The Answer Might Surprise You

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You’ve “lost” five pounds. So where’d you lose it?

While most health experts assume lost fat is converted to heat or energy—hence the term “burned”—you actually breathe out fat in the form of carbon dioxide, shows research from Australia’s University of New South Wales.

That’s right. You exhale lost weight. “[Lost mass] goes into thin air,” says study coauthor Ruben Meermen, PhD, in a press release from UNSW.

Along with Andrew Brown, PhD, head of bimolecular sciences at the Australian university, Meerman tracked the voyage of lost fat atoms. To their surprise, 84% of that lost fat was converted to carbon dioxide. The rest becomes water, which you lose through peeing, crying, sweating, or any of the other ways your body dumps H2O.

If that sounds crazy to you, you’re not alone. When the study team polled 150 doctors, dieticians, and personal trainers, half assumed fat was converted into energy. Most of the others either didn’t know or guessed incorrectly.

Explaining just HOW fat becomes CO2 involves a lot of very complicated chemistry (there’s a reason health experts didn’t really understand where lost fat ended up). But this new knowledge may eventually help trainers, doctors, and nutritionists develop better ways for you to shed pounds, the study suggest.

In the meantime, don’t start breathing faster to lose weight. You’ll only hyperventilate, the study authors say. Also, in case you’re wondering, breathing out lost weight in the form of CO2 doesn’t hurt the environment, they add. (Apparently they’ve been asked that a lot.)

For now, this is more of a “who’d have thunk it?” factoid than information you can use to improve your health. Still, it’s pretty bizarre. Watching The Biggest Loser will never be the same.-Prevention

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