It is darkly disappointing that at least two enormous corporations, BMJ
(British Medical Journal) and ABC-News (Australia) Catalyst, have been mislead by
incompetent others into publishing articles in 2014 based on how the human
body can control bodyfat due to aspects of how the lungs exhale.
Their author, who claims to be a scientist, made countless huge logical
and factual blunders, such as the 'detail' of ever even considering that
a human needs to eat! He dreamed up a wild (un-scientific) speculation,
ONLY considering bodyfat,
which totally ignored ever eating food and entirely focused on the process
of metabolizing bodyfat, and he ferociously defends
it, where he tried to do a math analysis of the biochemistry of human
bodyfat. That might have been useful for someone who did a forty-day
Fast, but his math had nothing to do when any food is eaten!
Unfortunately, he made dozens of math mistakes, but worse, and laughably,
he totally neglected the fact that a person has to occasionally eat!
It is hard to not laugh as he attempted to exclusively analyze human bodyfat
to come up with some great importance of 84% regarding the portion of
metabolized bodyfat which results in exhaled human breath being carbon
dioxide. That is an irrelevant number, but even if he had not made so
many math errors, his arguments and math could only
be true if a person NEVER ATE ANY FOOD and only survived on using up human
bodyfat! How could BMJ and ABC-News (Australia) publish such incompetent trash?
I first published THIS scholarly article in this page on the Internet five
years earlier in October 2009, where I provided a Chart down below (still
there!) which carefully analyzes Exhaled Breath which DOES include
both the biochemistry of bodyfat AND of the FOOD we consume each day. The
Chart I provided in 2009 shows that the actual percentage is about
71%, although that number has absolutely NO actual importance!|
Generally, such organizations as BMJ and ABC-News (Australia) use a process of Internal Peer Review to ensure the accuracy before publishing, but both BMJ and Catalyst admit to NOT using Internal Peer Review on this subject.
In the few months that their author Meerman spent on this in 2014, he made many serious scientific errors in his work. He said 'I lost 15 kg in 2013 and simply wanted to know where the kilogrammes were going. After a self-directed, crash course in biochemistry, I stumbled onto this amazing result.' Their author Brown said, in early 2014, 'As far as I am aware, his (Meerman's) results are completely new to the field.'
NO THEY WEREN'T, being five years AFTER I had published this even more comprehensive web-page of information in 2009.
The very fact that author Meerman 'had to give himself a self-directed, crash course in biochemistry' should have been a clue that he did not have the education to Research such a subject, and he did not even then pursue any actual University curriculum toward learning the field. Brown's comment makes clear that he did not even thoroughly examine that effort in generating his opinion of it.
Careful examination of Meerman's text shows many serious errors of facts and weakness of scientific assumptions. NO self-respecting scientific Peer-Review group would have authorized any article that contained so many logical blunders and factual errors! Meerman had even chosen a WRONG chemical (linolenic acid) for one of his strange central arguments! The actual correct chemical in human bodyfat, (alpha-linolenic acid) has a molecular weight of 28 less. That math error alone makes many of his bizarre calculations significantly wrong! He incorrectly described the Glycol molecular backbone as C3H6, where it actually is C3H5. Many other different errors and bad assumptions are throughout his article. No valid Peer Review group would have authorized such poor work, even if such a Peer Review Group had not been aware of my five-year-earlier published work on the subject.
Then Meerman came up with 'novel' arguments to explain gaining or losing weight. ABC-News (Australia) Catalyst aired it in Australia in March 2014 and BMJ published it on December 16, 2014 (BMJ 2014;349:g7257). The entire 'new' article, in both cases, contained many factual errors and poor assumptions, but it was certainly amazingly similar in text to my five-year-earlier-published work. The day after BMJ published that work in December 2014, a loyal reader of mine saw it on the Internet and sent in an e-mail to BMJ that informed them of my essentially identical five-year-old work "Yup, I learned this around 2009 from my favorite mad scientist." (where he also included my web-page's address). (That person was one of more than 24,000 people who had already read (this) my 2009 web-page.)
A different publication, Business Insider published a brief version of these two in calling it Scientists Only Just Figured Out Where Fat Goes When You Lose Weight (published December 17, 2014). No one gives any credit to the fact that I had explained all this (and much more) in my work which was published more than five years earlier!
I had worked on these subjects for eight years (2002-2009) and applied careful scientific inquiry.
How could Meerman have incorrectly identified one of the main chemicals in human bodyfat? How could he have forgotten that people have to eat to be able to metabolize food, and exclusively think about only bodyfat being used? He then tried to use simplistic math reasoning to claim some alleged importance in the fractions of carbon dioxide and water vapor in exhaled breath in a claim (of metabolized bodyfat). He neglected many things in this speculation. For one thing, my October 2009 article includes a chart which gives analysis of a day's EXHALED Breath (of FOOD and possibly also a little bodyfat) (below), where 0.6 pound of water vapor and 1.5 pound of carbon dioxide were included in a comprehensive chart (which also matched up with a similar chart of the chemistry of a day's INHALED breath, where Conservation of Mass was confirmed.) If the two exhaled gases were compared, carbon dioxide represents about 71% of that total. Meerman used a logically sloppy approach where he only examined bodyfat metabolism where he decided that carbon dioxide is supposed to be 84% of the total. Why didn't he just look at the charts that I had Researched five years earlier? Also, any credible scientist would have done Medical statistical experiments to simply MEASURE the two gases in a Hospital to see whether his speculated number was right or wrong! He neglected all sorts of things such as that Dalton's Law and all other basic scientific laws are dependent on ambient temperature and on humidity. INHALED air may be at 30°F and therefore rather dense while EXHALED air is generally at 98.6°F, and therefore far less dense. His calculations never made any reference to or adjustment for such major math effects. He also overlooked an obvious fact regarding that the body processes carbon dioxide and water vapor in chemically different ways! He DID seem to notice that carbon dioxide is only discarded by exhaled breath (which he might have read from my five-year-old article) but he seems ignorant of the fact that the body has SEVERAL different ways of discarding of the huge amount of water that it generates by its Basal Metabolism! He DID note that only 0.6 pound of water vapor is exhaled per day (possibly also read from my older article). He decided to then ONLY compare only the two exhaled amounts (and not excreted, another wrong word). and totally ignore the rest of the body's Metabolism and biochemistry!
But he seemed ignorant that the human body CAN metabolically process and dispose of SEVEN TIMES THAT MUCH WATER as urine every day (4 pounds of urine per day). Depending on the temperature and humidity, quite a bit of water can also be disposed of as perspiration. Marathon runners dispose of much more water by both sweating and that of exhaled humid breath. Author Meerman made many wildly wrong assumptions, including incorrectly ignoring the temperature effects of the proportion that he thinks is so important, but worse, his figures are horribly off by both his incorrect chemical definitions but also his ignoring the obvious fact that the body loses most of its daily moisture by urine, sweat and other processes. Apparently, he felt he could look impressive by exclusively referring to an obscure analysis of bodyfat by the Dalton Law of Partial Pressure. I was NOT impressed! It is darkly humorous that even the core point he tried to make, regarding percentage composition of exhaled breath is actually irrelevant, since the body commonly disposes of such large amounts of water by urination and sweat. Interestingly, he DID note that the body can lose water through tears! Too bad he didn't do any calculation about how many gallons of water the body loses by tears every day!
The actual proportion of gases exhaled varies a lot with season and diet, and it is pretty illogical that any actual scientist would get so carried away with trying to claim any FIXED proportion in exhaled breath! Of course, Meerman never bothered to consider diet anyway, only metabolized bodyfat! Especially since the alleged percentage is irrelevant anyway. But if he felt it was so critical important, why didn't he EXPERIMENTALLY CONFIRM whatever that proportion actually is. Or explain WHY that (alleged) percentage had any importance (which it does not).
These many errors bring a smile when noting that he also decided to do a 'survey of experts' where he gave foolish choices to pick from, such as offering that 'weight loss results in fecal defecation' or in 'weight loss results in muscle creation'. He must also not be aware that a valid 'survey' must contain credible alternatives. Or maybe he was merely demonstrating that he does not know how to do scientific inquiry. Such as understanding the actual importance of how a scientific law called the Conservation of Mass AND a scientific law called Conservation of Energy can BOTH be true at the same time! And more and more errors.
He made a central bonehead logical error in his central claim! He ASSUMED that ALL carbon dioxide and water vapor from the body's Metabolism ONLY exits through the lungs. There is no logical reason for that to have to be true regarding water, and for a hundred years, Doctors have tracked where some of that water goes into the blood and then into the bladder and also into sweat glands. So his CENTRAL assumption is simply dead wrong!
He seems very aggressive in defending his 'novel approach' (and his 84%) (of 2014) and he was totally ignoring that I had done even more comprehensive research on the subject in 2002-2009 which included an implied 71% proportion. I would LOVE to hear WHY he thinks that proportion has any importance at all! In 2009, I certainly SHOWED that chart (below) where 0.6 pound of water vapor and 1.5 pound of carbon dioxide is exhaled per day, but neither I nor anyone else saw any importance in claiming any such percentage of 71% of carbon dioxide.
If giant corporations such as BMJ and ABC-News (Australia) Catalyst decide to publish work which I had done (and previously published five years earlier), shouldn't they have been required to CREDIT my Research and PAID me for what they made a profit on? And I really don't want to comment on the copying of so much of my work. Their self-promotion of their articles makes clear that THEY consider it to be IMPORTANT WORK. Well?
It IS important, and so it DOES need to be accurate information, as in coming years, millions of people may use my 2009 results to regain control of their personal weight. I had taught the world in 2009 the importance of how we breathe regarding possibly losing bodyfat!
Oh, Meerman has attacked me regarding noting his incompetence. In response, he chose to 'educate me' such as about 'carbon dioxide being discovered in the year 1754.' I must admit that I had not known that! But I don't really care about irrelevant matters anyway! It is not actually known for sure exactly what year Joseph Black made his discovery anyway!
There are actually only two things you can do to reduce your bodyfat.
One is to eat less food than your body actually needs. (which
reduces the number of carbon atoms you have stored in your body).
The other is to exercise or otherwise use up more carbon atoms
than you consume each day (which can make your body overheat and
give off more heat radiation and also actually makes you have to breathe
faster or deeper which exhales more carbon atoms as carbon dioxide).
Unless you accomplish one or both of these
simple goals, your body has no way to get rid of massive numbers
of carbon atoms it has stored in bodyfat. It is as simple as this,
and the endless list of ideas businesses present to you to get
money from you cannot accomplish anything otherwise.|
We are all swamped with advertising which insists that if you buy this or that product or herb, you will suddenly be able to easily lose large amounts of bodyfat, absolutely easily and painlessly! The customers must believe that the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny accomplishes these goals, since they have never been able to lose bodyfat before. That Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny has to defy all known scientific laws if such claims are to be valid. If you read the following SCIENTIFIC text, you will learn that human bodyfat is about 77% carbon atoms footnote 1, and a basic scientific Law called the Conservation of Matter says that those atoms cannot simply vanish! You will also learn that the human body really only has one significant way to get rid of carbon atoms, and that is by exhaling carbon dioxide in your breath, around 12 times every minute. Any advertising claim that says that your bodyfat will vanish after taking some magical pills or herbs or medical-sounding concoction, is simply not remotely true. It IS possible to lose bodyfat, but that requires persistence and patience that many people do not seem to have. Each day, YOU actually do exhale around 0.4 pound of carbon atoms (in the carbon dioxide of around 17,000 exhaled breaths!), and that would actually get you somewhere, but you also happen to eat and drink foods and liquids which contain around 0.4 pound of carbon atoms. Bummer! Lawyers carefully word every sentence in the claims of such companies to minimize the chance that they might get sued for lying to customers, but they certainly get mighty close to the line! The scientific facts are presented here.
The following will fully explain the following simple facts. In each average day, YOU inhale and exhale about 12 times per minute, during each of the 1440 minutes of the day, or a total of around 17,000 times. Each average exhaled breath takes up about 500 ml or about the volume of a ripe orange, and each exhaled breath carries away about 0.011 gram of carbon atoms which is waste from the operation of your body. That is a total of about 189 grams (or 0.4 pound) of carbon atoms you get rid of each day by exhaling. IF you ate an appropriate amount of food that day, we will see below that all the food contained, SURPRISE!, about 189 grams of carbon atoms in it! In that case, your body would neither gain nor lose weight that day. Period!
The Biochemistry of your body is rather amazing. Your body has to inhale and exhale about 22.2 pounds of air, in about 17,000 breaths, such that it can process just the ONE pound of food that you eat and digest each day! Seems hard to believe but that is true!
If you are an active adult man, each day your body USES UP about 2,200 Calories of energy, to mechanically operate your heart and lungs and other muscles, along with chemical actions like digestion, electrical activities like the operation of your brain and nervous system, and other systems to enable your body to live, along with a few hundred Calories which get used up by your walking and running and carrying things. THIS is an unavoidable fact!
You might be interested to learn that the human body has a maximum efficiency of around 20%. What this means is that around 1750 of those Calories are used up just to keep you alive, what is called Basal Metabolism, and only around 450 of those Calories actually are used to move and carry things. Sort of disappointing, isn't it?
That energy is provided from chemical energy in the foods and liquids we eat and drink. Our bodies know how to extract and use the carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms, and then use the available energy, in each cell's Mitochondria, where a complex process called the Kreb's Cycle (or the Citric Acid Cycle) does all this for you.
You actually are faced with THREE choices!
(1) You can eat EXCESS food, which your body does not need during that day, and your body chooses to STORE that excess energy as Bodyfat, for some possible future day when you might not find any food, a survival process used by many animals and man. THIS is the (only) way that we get overweight.
(2) You might eat LESS food than your body actually needs, either due to not having access to sufficient food or due to your elective choice of dieting (or even Fasting). Your body STILL needs to use up around 2,200 Calories, and it makes up the difference by accessing some previously stored bodyfat, and converting it into the additional energy you need. THIS is the (only) way that we can (actually) lose weight.
(3) But traditionally, you provide that needed energy by eating about 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of food, of which about half a pound is material which cannot be digested by humans (some of which we call roughage or fiber) which simply passes through our digestive tract. The remaining one pound (454 grams) of food that you CAN digest provides the required 2200 Calories of energy.
An interesting fact exists, which probably will never be asked on Jeopardy! Prior to about 20 years ago, the daily food intake in the United States for an adult man was generally described as being around 3200 Calories. (Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, Revised 1953) That number was found by measuring ALL the materials that were taken into the mouth in a 24 hour day, and it WAS a valid number. But all modern research describes our Dietary Intake, which is around 2200 Calories per day (for an adult man). The difference was simply that it was realized that we swallow those 9 ounces of food each day which we cannot digest. The modern figure is a more useful value, in being the amount of our food which we can actually digest! So, IF you should look in a very old textbook, you are likely to see a daily food intake value of around 3200 Calories, which you should probably ignore!
Bodyfat is an impressively compact source of energy, where only 0.6 pound of bodyfat can provide that full day's energy needs which normally requires about 1.0 pound of food.
The analysis and the numbers are below, as well as the implications regarding trying to lose weight.
Each day, you stick assorted foods and liquids into your mouth! Your digestive system attempts to deal with all of them. It's success ratio depends a lot on just what you ate.
We will use some figures here, for an adult man in the United States, for discussion purposes. Each person eats different quantities of different types of foods and liquids, so there are individual variations in the numbers.
In an average day, you probably stick around 25 ounces (700 grams) of food into your mouth. Roughly 9 ounces (250 grams) of that are not able to be digested by the human body and that material can pass completely through the alimentary canal to be later excreted. Therefore, roughly 16 ounces (454 grams) or one pound of food actually gets digested each day. Various types of food materials contain different quantities of energy content. Most carbohydrates and proteins contain around 4 Calories per gram, while most fats contain much more at around 9 Calories per gram. (see our presentation on the efficiency of a human as a machine to get more detail on why that is.) Fiber or roughage contains ZERO Calories per gram, because the human body is incapable of digesting it, and it passes right through! Due to the mix of these different materials in our food, the average energy content in the foods we eat (in the United States) is around 5 Calories per gram, or around 2200 Calories (454 gm times 5 Cal/gm) per day of energy from food intake.
Why you seem to always fail at dietingMany people rely on a bathroom scale to monitor their body weight. A rather weak idea, at best! Consider the following: In addition to that food you eat each day, you also drink a LOT of liquids. Whether that is tap water or coffee or tea or soda, it is nearly all water. It is common to drink a minimum of 8 cups (8 ounces each) of water each day, or 64 ounces or half a gallon. That is more than 4 pounds of water. Many people drink more than that, in the 3/4 gallon to gallon range. OK. Say you AVOID urinating for an entire 24 hour period! You swallowed as much as a gallon of water during that day, water which weighs around 8.3 pounds per gallon! See the problem? Whatever your real Metabolism did that day, there is an ADDITIONAL 8.3 pounds of water inside you that was not there the day before! (some actually DOES disappear, as humidity in exhaled breath and in sweat, which we will examine more fully below.) The bathroom scale??? The point here is that your bathroom scale could read as much as 8 pounds higher the next day! That result would NOT mean that you failed on your diet, but instead simply (temporarily) added a lot of additional water to your body!
In fact, many alleged diets are actually primarily things that are known as diuretics, which encourage you to want to urinate! So whether or not your body actually managed to use up any bodyfat (which as we will soon see is difficult), your bathroom scale shows you losing weight like crazy! This can continue for several days, because the human body is around 60% water. In me, a 200-pound man, that 120 pounds of water inside me could give up two pounds of water every day for a week or two, and still not represent any serious medical problems; I would still have a hundred pounds of water in me! And I would be able to be bragging to everyone about losing two pounds of weight every day! But it would actually be fictitious! My brain would eventually encourage me to drink extra water and the total weight would be just where it used to be! Now you know why that is!
Right now, if you weigh yourself accurately, and then immediately drink two 16-ounce cans of pop, you WILL weigh about two pounds more! Just a few minutes later! Of course, if you then use the rest room, you could eliminate two or more pounds of water and cause your scale weight to drop back down!
It is important to notice that the exact OPPOSITE effect also occurs. So you decide to go on a diet! And you drink only HALF as much water on that first day as you usually do. Assuming that your urination, respiration and sweating normally gets rid of your usual 8.3 total pounds of water, you see IMPRESSIVE GOOD NEWS from your scale! You see the scale reading and think you lost four pounds! But it is not really true! Whatever effect your diet had was much less and was hidden by the weight change due to water quantities! You DRANK only around 4 pounds of water on a day when your body got rid of 8.3 pounds of water. Whether or not your diet does anything at all, your bathroom scale WILL show an APPARENT WEIGHT REDUCTION of FOUR POUNDS IN THAT SINGLE DAY!
If you started some alleged diet which had known diuretics in it, you will have the mood to urinate a lot! Again, your bathroom scale will then show you losing weight impressively! But, again, NONE of that is due to any actual success at losing bodyfat. Do you see that the readings of the bathroom scale can be extremely misleading? Either way?
The problem is that there is immense variation in the amounts of water that we drink each day and the amounts that we get rid of. On any given day, your weight can fluctuate several pounds up or down due to this, where there is NO connection to any diet matters!
It turns out that your body contains enormous amounts of water inside it. It has long been known that we are roughly 60% water! I weigh around 200 pounds so that means that I am roughly 120 pounds of water along with 80 pounds of other stuff. So it is possible for a person to restrict water intake for a number of days in a row, and thereby see their bathroom scale show IMPRESSIVE weight reduction! A 300-pound person might claim "I lost 30 pounds in one week!" You see those claims all the time. Yes, their scale DID show such a weight reduction and very fast. But it was ENTIRELY WATER and not bodyfat at all! That 300 pound body started out with 180 pounds of water in it (the 60%) and if reduced water intake allowed natural exhaling and urination and sweating to get rid of just four additional pounds of water each day for a week, that body would then still contain 150 pounds of water in it! But the SCALE shows a 30-pound weight reduction during that week! And that person would be paid to be in TV commercials!
Since all these RAPID weight losses are essentially entirely water that had left the body, you have certainly also noticed that virtually everyone who claims RAPID weight loss, soon re-gains that weight. The REALITY is that they had lost very little or none of their bodyfat, so there had actually been no long-term improvement. So when Oprah Winfrey lost a large amount of her excess weight (during the 1990s), she soon re-gained virtually all of it back. It is unlikely that very much had actually been bodyfat at all, even though she THOUGHT it was! A man who "won" the television competition for having lost the greatest amount of weight, has recently admitted to have gained all if it back (Nov 2009). Those people and millions of others had deluded themselves into believing that the rapid SCALE weight loss that they could achieve, was an actual accomplishment regarding bodyfat. It rarely actually is.
In contrast, there ARE some people who DO lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off. Richard Simmons and the spokesman for Subway sandwiches (Jared) both lost a lot of weight and kept it off. How? Through MASSIVE and CONSISTENT effort! And, unfortunately, their accomplishments were SLOW in coming. Why? Because of Physics and Chemistry! One pound of human bodyfat contains around 3,500 Calories of chemical energy in it. In a normal day of activities, a human burns up enough food to provide about 2,200 Calories of energy. In other words, if a person could resist eating entirely for a day, total Fasting, then only about 2/3 pound of bodyfat could be used up! (The person WOULD likely have a greater scale weight reduction, but most of that weight loss would be due to water loss as discussed above.) Richard Simmons and Jared were VERY PERSISTENT in their efforts! The did NOT fall into the common attitude of today where everyone insists on INSTANT RESULTS!
How can you keep track of this stuff? Nearly everyone thinks that using a bathroom scale will do it. No it won't! If you ate an extra hundred Calories of food content each day, that only creates about 1/36 pound of bodyfat! After 36 days, you would only notice having gained ONE pound of bodyweight! The same effect is true if you either went on a careful diet of 100 Calories LESS than usual (EVERY day!) or did significant exercise workouts where you were able to burn up that 100 Calories or 1/36 pound of body fat. In both cases, a bathroom scale is not nearly accurate enough!
A really intense and extended workout can burn up as much as 200 Calories. (There ARE exceptions! Researchers in Antarctica generally need to eat around 6,000 Calories each day to maintain their body weight because their bodies radiate immense amounts of heat due to the constant sub-zero temperatures. Olympic-level athletes need to eat impressive amounts of Calories each day. I understand that Michael Phelps, the swimmer with many Olympic Gold Medals, needs to eat around 12,000 Calories on many days, which is partly due to constant physical exertion but is also partly due to his body having to radiate and conduct large amounts of heat to the cool water which he is nearly always in. When professional football players retire, many continue to eat the large quantities of food that they had to eat during their career, and they often rapidly gain huge amounts of weight, which they then have great difficulty getting rid of.)
There are cheap and silly devices which are sold which claim to be able to monitor bodyfat content. The two most common are Bodyfat Calipers and devices which measure the electrical resistance of your body. Both can give you numbers that can make you feel happy, but the fact that both are commonly WRONG by up to 15% of bodyfat, they become useless. If you get a reading from such a device that says you are at 20% bodyfat (a healthy number) the reality could be either that you are actually at 35% (morbidly obese) or 5% (which few professional athletes can accomplish).
However, there IS a way to accurately measure bodyfat content. The one that is most proven is called Hydrostatic Weighing. Unfortunately, the process is complicated, taking close to an hour to do, expensive, commonly $35 each measurement, and potentially dangerous! In early 2003, we developed a far simpler, quicker (one or two minutes), cheap (generally free), and without any danger at all! It is described at Bodyfat - Accurate and Easy Determination
Bodyfat Analysis Weights - Pepsi Bottles and Pennies
Bodyfat Percentage - Determining Accurate Bodyfat Easily An Automatic Calculator for the above system
As an aside here, exercise is certainly central to being able to ACTUALLY reduce the amount of bodyfat (by both increasing the body's metabolism AND increasing the rate of respiration to actually get rid of the carbon atoms from that used bodyfat). But the RATE of such benefit is nowhere close to what people seem to assume! An extreme case is a Marathon runner. In running over 26 miles at maximum possible speed, it is well documented that the winners generally only use up an additional 2600 Calories of energy. (You can assume a MAXIMUM of about 100 Calories for every mile that you run HARD, less if you jog.) In other words, even a Marathon runner does not even use up a full pound of bodyfat during a race! (But he/she DOES lose massive amounts of WATER from the body, by both sweating and as exhaled humid breaths. Such runners HAVE to drink a lot of water during a race to replenish that lost water, to avoid bad medical effects of aberrant body chemistry if they lose too much water.)
Worse, when the body loses a lot of its water, many of the chemical reactions which have to occur start doing scary things. One popularly known such problem is called a Potassium imbalance. A person can very suddenly just collapse and be in dangerously bad shape, as when an athlete has sweated large amounts of water out without replenishing it. Some people have even died from severe cases. So it is NOT a good idea to try to reduce your water content, even though it APPEARS to be showing the effects of impressive dieting! Too dangerous! That does NOT alter your amount of bodyfat anyway!
The point being made here is that you DO need to consider working out or running or doing other behaviors that cause your metabolism to increase and your respiration rate to increase. Just DON'T expect sudden and spectacular reduction of bodyfat to immediately occur! Be patient, VERY patient! IF you work out hard every day for a month, and manage to cause your body to use up 400 Calories more than you eat in each of those days, you WOULD cause a noticeable benefit! Actually, 31 days times 400 Calories is 12,400 Calories, which would require that about 3.5 pounds of your bodyfat would have to have gotten used up! Most people are not patient enough to wait for that sort of benefit for such a rather severe effort at exercising. But it is the most reliable method to ACTUALLY lose bodyfat.
Nearly all sold and promoted programs that claim to provide rapid weight loss or bodyfat reduction, APPEAR to be successful at the start! As long as they use a bathroom scale as the method for monitoring effects, they CAN all LOOK impressive for a few days! But since very few such programs actually focus on using up bodyfat, and in also breathing more often and/or deeper for extended periods of time, they show NEARLY ALL their bathroom scale results that are due to reduction of water content in the body. Sad but true.
The point here is that you CANNOT rely on a bathroom scale to provide you with accurate or useful information! The simple fact that your scale weight can change by several pounds in a day, simply because of your choices regarding drinking and urinating, and to some point, defecating, makes scale readings essentially irrelevant, except on a gross level. The fact that doctors' exams always include scale weight, and even weigh-ins for professional boxing matches do, does not give them any more credibility than this.
As a side note here, we have provided, free, a set of presentations of a very simple, easy, quick and cheap way that you can monitor your actual body density, which means your actual bodyfat quantity, amazingly accurately. If this is done daily or weekly, and graphed as described there, you can get VERY accurate information regarding whether your diet or exercise is actually having any good or bad effect. The feedback you get by that method is immediate and accurate, and it can give you extra incentive to keep eating those nasty vegetables! Whether your bathroom scale agrees or disagrees is sort of irrelevant! You may want to check out Bodyfat - Accurate and Easy Determination
The great accuracy of that system provides a level of feedback that a bathroom scale cannot provide, and it can give reinforcement for ANYTHING you happen to do that improves your bodyfat percentage! Even if that is simply the avoidance of a single food like french fries or ice cream! You WILL likely see some backsliding associated with a giant Thanksgiving dinner, but if your graph is GENERALLY sloped downward, no real problem!
I just noticed (late November 2009) a TV commercial that actually contains some honesty about a weight loss and bodyfat loss system! But one has to look extremely carefully, because that honesty is only briefly shown in some fine print in the commercial! The audio of the commercial contains the usual spectacular claims of enormous weight loss and bodyfat loss. But that fine print (in the Lipozene commercial) describes an average weight loss of 3.66 pounds over 8 weeks of using their system. THAT is actually a CREDIBLE reduction of bodyfat! From the numbers in this presentation, we see that they are actually saying that about 13,000 Calories worth of bodyfat are used up over a 56-day period. That is around a 230 Calorie reduction each day, which IS very realistic. But will a lot of people pay them significant money in order to "ONLY" lose less than four pounds over a two-month period? I wish they would, but most modern people seem too impatient for that rate of performance! In any case, I applaud the honesty in that TV commercial, even though it IS only in very small print and only rather briefly displayed!
We have just discussed the WATER in what you swallow. What about the food itself? We determined that roughly 16 ounces of actual food gets digested each day. What happens to it? Surprisingly, nearly all of the weight of that food (eventually) gets disposed of in your exhaled breath!
In order to chemically decompose the pound of food you eat each day, you need to use up a large amount, more than a pound, or many cubic feet, of oxygen from air, which you obtain by inhaling.
How do we know that? Due to decades of research in Biochemistry!
Here is a simplified presentation of the biochemistry of both photosynthesis (right to left) and digestion (respiration or decomposition) (left to right).
One fact that we want to take away from this chart has to do with the QUANTITIES of the four materials involved, that is the mass or weight of each. We know from High School Chemistry that Carbon atoms have atomic weight of 12, Oxygen has 16 and Hydrogen has 1. Using the top line of this graphic, repeated here:
C6H12O6 + (6) O2 gives off (6) H2O + (6) CO2 + a LOT of energy!
We can see that glucose molecule has atomic weight of 12 * 6 + 1 * 12 + 16 * 6 or 180. We can see that the six Oxygen molecules have total atomic weight of 6 * ( 2 * 16 ) or 192. We have a total atomic weight of 372 on the left side of the equation.
Similarly, we can calculate that we have 108 weight of water and 264 weight of carbon dioxide on the right side, which also totals 372, which is necessary to Conserve Mass.
Those numbers have actual importance in Biochemistry, but for our needs here, we simply need to COMPARE them to determine the proportionalities of the materials. Since we are saying that our FOOD quantity (which we have simplified into just being glucose) is 1.0 pound, we can quickly determine the necessary amounts of the other three materials! Specifically, we will need 192/180 * 1.0 or 1.1 pounds of oxygen, and we will produce 264/180 * 1.0 or 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and 108/180 * 1.0 or 0.6 pound of water. (The EPA incorrectly says 2.3 pounds of CO2 is created each day, which is not possible! The carbon has to come from somewhere, the food that we eat, and this analysis is correct, where about 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide is created each day in the exhaled breath.)
Our bodies actually remove MORE oxygen than that, around 1.4 pounds, mostly to make sure that plenty of oxygen was always available everywhere in the body at all times.
We are actually now in a position to calculate HOW MANY TIMES we must exhale each day! Sort of amazing!
From the calculation above, we know that the body will create 1.5 pounds (681 grams) of carbon dioxide in completely decomposing the 1.0 pound (454 grams) of food that we digested. Let's change the numbers into the metric system, so we know that we will create 681 grams of CO2 during the day. We know that an average breath is about half a liter of air (500 ml), and it weighs a total of about 0.0013 pound or 0.60 gram. In Chemistry, Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures establishes that, when exhaled at body temperature, the breath can contain a maximum of about 4.4% carbon dioxide, if fully saturated. That means that a single exhaled breath, which is about the 500 ml size of a ripe orange, can contain a (saturated) maximum of about 22 milliliters of carbon dioxide in it (4.4% of a 500 ml breath). Using the density of Carbon Dioxide, we find that there is about 0.0405 gram of carbon dioxide per average exhaled breath. Of this, about 0.011 grams of carbon atoms are present.
We know that we need to exhale a total of 681 grams (of carbon DIOXIDE) per day, and each exhaled breath carries 0.0405 gram. Simple division shows us that we must therefore breathe (exhale) 17,000 times each day! There are 1440 minutes in a day, so this tells us that we must breathe (exhale) an average of 11.7 times every minute! (to dispose of all the carbon dioxide produced from that one pound of food that we digested that day). We will see from the math below that each breath of carbon dioxide (0.0405 gram) is 12/44 carbon atoms (by basic chemistry) or 0.011 gram of CARBON atoms in every average exhaled breath. For the record, 16,800 exhaled breaths each with an average of 0.011 gram of carbon atoms totals about 189 grams of carbon atoms, just what we ate that day! (Sorry this stuff is more mathematical than most people want, but I wanted to show why this is true.)
You can check yourself, when resting, and you will likely find that you breathe about 12 times per minute, in excellent agreement with this analysis!
It is therefore clear that IF we restrict our food intake (dieting), we can lose bodyfat, IF we breathe sufficiently! It is also now clear WHY exercise can contribute to losing bodyfat, ONLY because the breathing is either faster or deeper or both! Yes, the body's metabolic rate changes which causes the need for this change in respiration rate, but nothing can happen unless there is different breathing, either in rate or in depth. Similarly, there are some drugs, such as cocaine or speeders, which accelerate the rate of body metabolism, which also causes faster or deeper breathing, and again results in being able to lose bodyfat.
In other words, IF a person determined HOW OFTEN they normally breathed AND how deeply they normally breathed, the calculations above can define how much food they should eat (or more correctly, digest)! With that knowledge, to person could KNOW whether they would gain weight, stay constant or lose weight each day, actual BODYFAT weight!
Here is an example calculation for you! You measure that your average respiration rate is 12 times per minute. Multiply by the 1440 minutes in a day to get 17,280 breaths per day (or make an adjustment for the slower breathing during sleep, down to 17,000). You don't have any easy way to determine how MUCH each breath is, so you can assume the 'official' size we have used here, of 500 ml, and the fact that such breaths can contain a saturated maximum of 0.0405 grams of carbon dioxide each. For this calculation, we really want just the carbon and not the whole carbon dioxide, which is (0.0405 * 12 / 44 or) 0.011 gram of carbon per exhaled breath. Multiply your 17,280 breaths by 0.011 gram per breath to get about 189 grams of carbon disposed of each day. Almost done! The food you eat is generally about 40% carbon atoms, so the total amount of food represented is 190 / 0.4 or 475 grams. Since one pound is 454 grams, this tells you that you can eat (and digest) just over one pound of food each day where your body fat and body weight should then not significantly change.
Please notice something entirely different from what all the diet experts ever say. We just calculated a TOTAL WEIGHT of food (that gets digested). We did not refer to whether that food was carbohydrates or proteins or fat! This actually explains something else that has always mystified people. Somebody comes up with a diet that is primarily carbohydrates. Somebody else comes up with one that is primarily protein. Some insist on tremendously eliminating fat, while others of those experts say you can eat all the fats you want. See why each of those diets CAN show positive results but also that each can fail? The IMPORTANT thing is NOT what KIND of material you eat, but actually how much carbon is in it! We have simplified that into the total weight of the food (which involves a few assumptions but which is generally solidly true.) Since carbohydrates and proteins contain roughly the same energy content, they are all close to that 40% carbon content. So diets that emphasize carbohydrates or proteins are pretty close to interchangeable! However, if you would choose to do an all ice cream diet, that is massively fat content, an adjustment in the calculations above is necessary! But you could calculate how much ice cream you could eat each day on your all ice cream diet, again DIRECTLY calculated from your own respiration rate! Actual nutrition might be a serious problem on such a diet, but if the QUANTITY of ice cream was chosen based on the calculations above, your body weight and bodyfat should not change. Even on an all ice cream diet!
NORMALLY, these facts are never noticed! Because of the gross inaccuracies of any weight scales, the extremely small amounts of actual bodyfat content each day can never be detected. It is only over long periods of time that the results become noticeable.
Consider this example: A person eats the exact 1.0 pound of food discussed here every day, but he breathes only 11 times each minute instead of the 11.7 times calculated here. No biggie? Not quite! Certainly, no one would ever even notice that very minor difference, even the person himself. Let's do the calculations! By breathing only 11 * 1440 or 15,800 times instead of 16,800 times, he can only dispose of about 1.4 pounds of carbon dioxide instead of the 1.5 pounds discussed above. This means that instead of disposing of the carbon atoms from 1.0 pound of food that day, he only disposes of the carbon dioxide atoms from 0.94 pound of food. He therefore winds up having 0.06 pound of digested food which never gets disposed of, and it gets converted into bodyfat. In a given day, this would not be noticed or even measurable, of eating 1.0 pound of food but only disposing of the atoms of 0.94 pound. A bathroom scale will never show an increase of 0.06 pound of body weight!
But this continues for an entire year, 365 days. Each day, an additional 0.06 pound of weight accumulates. Simple multiplication tells us that the person would gain about 22 pounds during that year! ALL of which would have become bodyfat!
The important part here is that a change from breathing 11.7 times each minute to 11 times each minute would never be noticeable at all, but that it would have the unavoidable result (if the amount of food eaten stayed the same) of a 22-pound increase in bodyfat during each year!
However, consider the opposite example! You start breathing at 12 times per minute instead of 11.7 times. Again, no one could possibly realize that such a miniscule change has occurred! But now your body will exhale 12 * 1440 or 17,280 times each day. This now has the capability of carrying away 1.54 pound of carbon dioxide instead of 1.5 pound. This then has the capability of disposing of the carbon from 1.03 pound of food or bodyfat. In the 365 day year, this then can represent an increase of such disposal by about ten pounds! The person could LOSE TEN POUNDS OF BODYFAT EVERY YEAR with such an extremely minor change!
Consider this same example but with breathing 13 times per minute instead of 11.7 times. The same calculations show that the person WOULD lose about 61 pounds of bodyfat during that year! A rather amazing result for such a tiny effort!
There is an alternate way that we can consider such an example. Rather than trying to change the RATE of respiration, let's let it stay at your normal 11.7 times. But all the air that goes into and out of your body must pass through a rather narrow pair of nostrils! Even if your nose has never been broken and you do not have a deviated septum, your nostrils are only about 3/8 inch in diameter, so they are rather restrictive regarding air passage through them. An average adult person generally exhales about 500 ml volume of air in every breath, which is about the equivalent to the size of a ripe orange. But what if you had a BETTER, FREER way for air to get into and out of your lungs? Like due to you generally breathing with your mouth slightly open? I have noticed that many young girls tend to keep their mouths slightly open, probably because it is seen to show their big smile and white teeth, to look sexy. Say her mouth is just 1/4 inch wide open in the middle, and 1.5 inch wide. The new air-path area through the mouth is now about 0.3 square inches, as compared to the total of the two nostrils of about 0.22 square inches. Even if the nose was not used at all for breathing any more, we have increased the airpath cross section up from 0.22 to 0.30 square inches, about a 30% increase in available airflow! Using the math from the examples above, her body would be able to process 1.3 pound of food each day, producing and disposing of 1.95 pound of carbon dioxide each day. This is an excess of 0.45 pound over the actual carbon dioxide her body creates that day. She WILL be able to LOSE WEIGHT and STAY SKINNY very easily! I now understand WHY so many young girls are able to stay so very skinny!
But now imagine that YOU get an oval shaped piece of soft plastic, like the kind that Dentists use for keeping dentures properly positioned in the mouth, but instead, one which keeps the mouth slightly open as just described. A 1/4 inch wide space between the lips would therefore provide an airpath through the mouth which is that 30% improvement over what the nostrils can provide. Imagine doing this for just one month, where each day your body was capable of disposing of an additional 0.45 pound of carbon dioxide. In a month, that is already about 14 pounds ACTUAL body weight loss!
There ARE some advantages in using your nostrils! You have cilia in your nose which FILTERS the air that you breathe, while when you breathe through your mouth, that filtration does not happen. Ditto regarding tiny insects. And if the weather is extremely cold outdoors, your mouth and teeth may find the cold to be undesirable. But if EVERYONE might be able to lose 14 pounds in a single month, I would think that intermittently using such a mouth gauge might be very attractive!
Notice that this might not even need to involve any significant exercise or any drug treatments, or even any reduction in food intake. The body adjusts its metabolism to meet the conditions it faces. Obviously, if the food intake is slightly reduced, the effects would occur even faster.
Unfortunately, human nature is such that people expect INSTANT RESULTS of diets. Few people seem willing to be patient for even a few weeks to see any results, so they quit diets regularly. Ditto, people don't seem to realize the AMOUNT of exercise necessary to increase the breathing enough to have any noticeable effect on weight loss, and people seem unwilling to have patience there either. So they are lured to PAYING FOR expensive programs that reduce water content (discussed above) where it LOOKS like rapid weight loss is occurring!
Until and unless people understand the contents of this presentation on the ACTUAL SCIENCE, few will likely actually accomplish much regarding losing bodyfat. Yes, people can lose a lot of rapid weight due to water loss, but that will reappear a few weeks later as the body stabilizes. And, yes, people can go on fanatical diets for a few weeks, before giving up and wanting REAL FOOD!
We can learn a related fact from the graphic above. It shows that when the process proceeds from left to right, we have 180 weight units of glucose involved. These are grams in the normal presentation as here. And we see that the 180 grams of glucose gives off a total of 686 (kilo) Calories of energy. If we extrapolate this to our one pound (454 grams) of food, we can see that the amount of energy produced should be 454 / 180 * 686 or 1739 Calories. This merely confirms that our numbers are in line with the data that we are familiar with. Protein or carbohydrates (of which glucose is one) are described as having an energy content of 4.0 Calories per gram, which is 1816 Calories per pound. (Our actual daily Caloric intake is higher because a substantial fraction of the food we eat is as fats, so that the AVERAGE energy content (for an adult male with a modern U.S. diet) is close to 5 Calories per gram (or 2200 Calories per pound). This is then describing our recommended daily dietary needs of 2000 Calories or 2200 Calories.
We can examine the carbon dioxide molecules further. We can see that the total molecular weight is 44, of which 12 is the carbon. We see that this therefore means that 12/44 or 27% of the weight is in the carbon atoms. This tells us that of the 681 grams of carbon dioxide that we exhaled each day, around 185 grams of carbon atoms are involved.
We can chemically examine the pound (454 grams) of food that we ate during the day, the mixture of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and find that they contain around 40% carbon atoms. For example, the glucose molecule we examined above (atomic weight 180) contains six carbon atoms in it (total atomic weight 72) so that molecule is 72/180 or exactly 40% carbon atoms by weight. Therefore, we see that of the 454 grams of food we eat each day, (454 * 0.4) or 182 grams of it is carbon atoms.
We therefore TOOK IN 182 grams of carbon atoms (as food) and EXHALED 185 grams of carbon atoms (as exhaled breath). See how our breathing gets rid of ALL the atoms / materials of the food we eat?
In a day, our lungs do an amazing amount of work! They receive around 8,400 liters of air. In the English system, this is about 300 cubic feet of air. This amount of inhaled air weighs around 22.2 pounds (far MORE than the one pound of food or few pounds of liquid that you take in during the day!) Those 22.2 pounds of inhaled air is NECESSARY in order to biochemically process that ONE POUND of food we ate and digested!
That INHALED air is around 21% oxygen, so we are talking of around 4.7 pounds of oxygen. It also contains about 390 ppmv of carbon dioxide (the natural content of the atmosphere) or around 0.01 pound of carbon dioxide IN each day. Depending on the humidity and air temperature that day, there is an amount of water vapor in the air which is also inhaled, which we will assume similarly minimal.
When we EXHALE, several conditions are different. First, the air inside the lungs gets heated to nearly the body temperature, so it expands a few percent in size. Second, the water vapor inside that air in the lungs is generally near saturation, with 100% relative humidity in there. Third, the carbon dioxide in the air to be exhaled is similarly usually saturated. And fourth, the air exhaled is only around 14% oxygen.
Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures calculates the actual amounts of these gases in our exhaled breath. The carbon dioxide can be and commonly is at its maximum possible concentration of around 4.4% of the entire exhaled breath.
Above, we calculated the carbon dioxide content of exhaled breath. We also calculated that about 182 grams of elemental carbon is processed throughout the body in the daily Metabolism. We also saw that the NORMAL exhaled breath over a 24-hour day accounts for essentially the exact same amount of carbon (185 grams) that had entered the body during eating and digestion (182 grams), and we even now see WHY the body weight is therefore generally stable!
Regarding the exhaling of water vapor from the lungs, we can use similar calculations as above. we have around 6.1% of the exhaled breath being water vapor (saturated at body temperature). If that air had been inhaled from a room that was at normal room temperature and humidity, the inhaled air had contained around 0.9% water vapor (as humidity). We now have ADDED water vapor content of around (500 * 5.2%) 26 ml which is about 0.016 grams. Of this, around 0.002 gram is hydrogen atoms, a rather small amount. Only some of the water exhaled was produced by the chemical processing of foods and bodyfats, as significant amounts of that exhaled water vapor is simply from water evaporating from the inner surfaces of the lungs. So any analysis of the water and hydrogen content is far more complex than that of the carbon in the carbon dioxide, and we will omit any further analysis of it here.
One basic point of this discussion and calculation is that the (1.0) POUND of actual food that you eat each day, which is digested and not excreted, is accounted for, nearly completely and very accurately, by totaling up the WEIGHT of the carbon dioxide gas (1.5 lb) exhaled plus the WEIGHT of the water vapor gas generated and exhaled (0.6 lb) MINUS the WEIGHT of the (inhaled) oxygen used (1.1 lb) to accomplish these changes due to Metabolic actions. That is, we start with 1.0 lb food plus 1.1 lb oxygen or 2.1 pounds of material and end up with 1.5 lb CO2 plus 0.6 lb H2O or 2.1 pounds of material, confirming that the scientific Law of Conservation of Mass applies!
(The actual complete analysis of all the thousands of bodily processes is far more complex that this simplified presentation, but these numbers are essentially correct.)
Related to that, we had already discussed that the INHALED air during a day totals around 22 pounds, and it contains about 4.7 pounds of INHALED oxygen. The inhaled air contained around 21% (natural) oxygen content, but our exhaled breath is depleted in oxygen, down to around 14%. This indicates that we exhale about 1.5 pound LESS of oxygen (3.2 lb) than we inhale in a day! This is actually more oxygen than is needed in exactly oxidizing the food, which we saw above is actually only around 1.1 pound. The body uses some oxygen for a variety of other processes, and also makes sure to never run short of oxygen, so it receives some excess oxygen. The actual amount is even slightly greater than this, due to inhaled air being at room temperature, where the density of the gases (Ideal Gas Law) are greater than at the exhaling temperature of the body.
Summary: We EAT 1.0 pound of food, and OXIDIZE it with 1.1 pound of oxygen (from our lungs inhaling) (for a grand total of about 2.1 pounds of materials chemically brought into the body each day) to TEMPORARILY create about 1 pound of glucose (and possibly other organic energy storage, such as bodyfat), which the one pound of digested food gets converted to become about 2200 Calories of energy. This conversion occurs primarily in the mitochondria of every cell in the body, by a process called the Kreb's Cycle or Citric Acid Cycle. That cycle therefore uses up the food or bodyfat molecules, by the metabolism, being oxidized into water and carbon dioxide and energy, and it therefore disappears). While that 2.1 pounds of total material (not counting water) gets added each day, the lungs dispose of around of 1.5 pound of carbon dioxide and 0.6 pound of new water created by the metabolism. These numbers are NOT rigidly precise here, but meant instead here just to suggest that the body does an amazing thing in RECEIVING one pound of solid food each day and apparently not ever disposing of it in any way! It ACTUALLY disposes of that pound of added material by ALSO bringing in more than a pound of oxygen in inhaling in the lungs, to then oxidize the food and then dispose of it in exhaled breaths.
Isn't it sort of WEIRD that we EAT one pound of food each day and have to INHALE an even GREATER weight of oxygen (1.1 pounds) which is needed to oxidize the food materials? And then we EXHALE (nearly) everything that eventually resulted from that one pound of food? Physicists find this very important, as related to the Law of Conservation of Mass! No one else seems to have ever cared at doing this sort of "materials audit" analysis, to actually confirm where all that food material goes! Apparently, everyone else simply ASSUMES that all that food gets excreted! Or they simply ignore it completely! But that is extremely wrong! So it is quite interesting that all the thousands of "experts" about these subjects have never seemed to have been aware of these basic scientific facts!
The body has thousands of different chemical reactions which it does, many of which involve trace amounts of many other elements. We do not mean to neglect those items here but are now simply focusing on a simple central truth which seems otherwise ignored or unknown.
Yes, good diet and exercise are very important, but actually only in a secondary way! Exercise is important BECAUSE it increases the metabolic rate, which ENABLES the body and lungs to EXHALE more carbon atoms! Anything that neglects that central fact cannot reduce bodyfat content. Period!
Yes, there are chemicals which speed up the metabolism of the body. Some are even called Speeders, but Cocaine has a similar effect. People who are addicted to such drugs have rapid metabolism and also breathing that is more rapid or deeper than in others (although no one seems to ever notice that fact.) And so they tend to be skinny people, rarely overweight. All these subjects fit together excellently in the Physics analysis!
Assorted implications of all thisThis discussion has centered primarily on the QUANTITY of food digested. NOT on whether it was protein or carbohydrate or fat. This might suggest that all the diets which insist on low- or high- carbs or proteins or fats, may be more interchangeable than previously thought. Whatever KIND of food it was, at some point it comes down to having to breathe enough times to exhale the carbon atoms that were in the original food.
This reasoning seems to imply that people who have had their noses broken or have a deviated septum, where they may breathe more shallowly than usual, may have gained weight and therefore may be statistically more obese than average people. Sounds like an excellent basis for a Medical or University Study! A statistical analysis of thousands of patients who have had standard physical exams might confirm or deny that.
This reasoning seems to imply that people who wear eyeglasses upon their noses, can either have the weight of the glasses supported by rigid cartilage or have that weight supported farther out upon soft tissue. In the latter case, the airpath inside the nasal passages might be slightly narrowed by that extra weight. This may mean that they may breathe more shallowly than usual, and may have gained weight and therefore may be statistically more obese than average people. Sounds like another excellent basis for a Medical or University Study! A statistical analysis of thousands of patients who have had standard physical exams might confirm or deny that.
This reasoning seems to suggest that young girls who commonly have their mouth slightly open, might therefore breathe extra air in and out by that path, and thereby create and exhale a larger amount of carbon dioxide, and therefore be skinnier than otherwise expected. Anecdotally, that seems to me to generally be the case! I am not aware of ANY young girl who commonly had her mouth slightly open, being fat! A statistical analysis of thousands of patients who have had standard physical exams might confirm or deny that.
Where many experts talk about Metabolic rates of different individuals, those different rates MIGHT be due to entirely different factors such as the above broken nose or slightly opened mouth. I am not sure that I see any way that a brain could alter the rate of metabolism without also modifying the rate or depth of respiration as well.
I have found that many people who call themselves 'experts' insist that 'mouth-breathing' is some serious danger to be avoided. Some of those 'experts' even claim that mouth-breathing RESTRICTS the amount of air that can get into and out of the lungs! Exactly the OPPOSITE of what is actually the case, if they really understood the subject!
In any case, I have actually TRIED this! It took me a few weeks to train my brain to want to have my mouth slightly open, but the results seem to have been pretty impressive! In about a five-month interval in late 2013 and early 2014, without changing anything else in my life (no exercise and not any noticeable difference in diet), I seem to have lost about 18 pounds of body weight, from about 218 down to 200 pounds, which appears to have all been bodyfat, primarily from my belly that used to be round and which is now nearly completely flat.
I believe I understand the Physics behind why that happened. My nostrils are approximately 3/8" in diameter, so their cross-sectional areas are 0.10 square inches. There are actually some places farther back in the nasal cavity which is slightly less than that, but I accept 0.20 si as being the practical cross-sectional area of my two nostrils. Now that I commonly (not always) have my mouth open about 1/4" and since it is about two inches wide, the cross-sectional area of my slightly opened mouth is about 0.50 square inches. That is more than twice the area of air flow to and from the lungs. In theory, my lungs could therefore exhale 2.5 times as much carbon dioxide, and therefore dispose of 2.5 times as much carbon and bodyfat. But that does not actually happen. The chemical processes in the cells' mitochondria only process sufficient food and bodyfat to provide all the energy the body needs, and since I never exercise, that is not much increased. Also, Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures limits the fraction of exhaled air which is carbon dioxide to about 4.4%. So my lungs and mouth-breathing COULD discard a lot more carbon dioxide (and therefore bodyfat), whenever my metabolism requests that to happen.
So I cannot exhale the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of food every day instead of the normal 1.0 pound of food (and sometimes bodyfat) I need to process in my normal life. If I could, I could be losing 1.5 pounds of bodyfat every day, or 45 pounds every month! Nope! But my experience during those recent five months has apparently been an increase of disposing of about 4 pounds of bodyfat each month, to account for the 20 pounds I lost during that interval. Not bad! Only a tenth of what mouth-breathing MIGHT have been able to accomplish, but I only notice my mouth being open for an hour or two each day. Seems to make scientific sense.
HOWEVER! I have noticed a downside to the mouth-breathing! By breathing out significantly more air, the moisture and humidity inside my mouth is noticeably less. I find it uncomfortable that much of the inside of my mouth often feels rather dry. I guess I need more saliva now! I am also aware that where the nostrils have zillions of tiny sticky hairs which keep dust and bad stuff out of your lungs, your mouth does not have such sticky hairs, and this idea MIGHT increase the chance of undesirable things getting down into your lungs.
The brain constantly monitors many things in the body, and decides to adjust things like the Metabolism and the rate of Respiration as it deems necessary. For example, if you go up to Pikes Peak, where the air only has a pressure of around 9 PSI instead of the sea level 14.7 PSI, each of your standard inhaled breaths only contains about 2/3 the oxygen that would be in a sea level breath. Your brain adjusts your Metabolism and breathing rates as necessary. The brain MIGHT cause you to breathe more deeply or more often OR it MIGHT cause you to be less strenuously active physically. Similarly, if you instead went down into a deep cave or mine, each of your standard breaths might contain 1.5 times as much oxygen as at sea level. Again, your brain makes the necessary adjustments. And it commonly makes such changes nearly immediately. If you jump up from your chair right now and run a mile, your brain will figure out what needs to be adjusted and it does it! Pretty cool!
SO! What if you put on a "belt" (or thin strap) around your chest, which included a tension monitor or switch? Where each breath would trigger a counter, or in a more sophisticated version, might do a Calculus-like summation of the number and depth of your breaths per minute? (This is actually essentially a cheap version of the Respiration Monitor that a Hospital Emergency Room displays on a computer screen!) And if that is less than some specified number or quantity, a buzzer or light might alert you to breathe a little extra? COULD your brain be trained, conditioned, into breathing just 10% more? (NOT as much as adapting to the 33% less on Pikes Peak or the 50% more in the deep cave, just 10%). After a while of such training, WOULD your body start NATURALLY breathing 10% faster or deeper? If so, it could be really interesting!
Your Metabolism is not really limited by how much oxygen comes in, because you actually generally always inhale somewhat more oxygen than you need. But it IS intimately tied to how much carbon dioxide you are able to exhale. THAT is a limiting condition. The air and carbon dioxide you exhale is at around body core temperature, generally many degrees warmer than the air that had been inhaled, so the Ideal Gas Laws indicate that the exhaled breath has to be of larger volume than the inhaled breath was.
So now, if your brain and body can be TRAINED to naturally breathe just 10% more per minute, consider the implications. Instead of exhaling the carbon dioxide from 2,200 Calories of food, your body would be ABLE to exhale the carbon dioxide from 10% more food, or 2,420 Calories! But if you kept your food intake at 2,200 Calories per day, this implies that you might burn up an extra 220 Calories every day! After 15 days, that represents the energy in one full pound of bodyfat! And after a year, that might represent an ACTUAL reduction of bodyfat by about 22 pounds!
This is based on the assumption that your brain would increase your Metabolic rate NOW THAT IT WAS ABLE TO DO SO. It MIGHT instead decide to preserve your bodyfat and simply keep the metabolism at the lower level. The effect then would be that your exhaled breaths would not have the maximum possible amount of carbon dioxide in them.
Still, this certainly seems worthy of study! If obese people could reliably lose 22 pounds of bodyfat each year, without having to do massive exercising and without having to alter their diets, it MIGHT represent a valuable method of dealing with the obesity epidemic around the world!
Is This Hyperventilation?Some people have attacked me for this presentation and the suggestion that a SLIGHTLY increased rate of respiration might enable burning off of excess bodyfat. They clearly do NOT have any idea of the actual facts, but they had found some reference somewhere that hyperventilation can be extremely dangerous. So they make unsupported assumptions and roar on the attack!
Hyperventilation IS potentially dangerous, for rather interesting reasons, but that is ENTIRELY a different subject than this one! We have discussed above that the human body generally breathes around 12 times per minute with around half a liter of air in each breath. That is therefore around 6 liters per minute. In Medical circles, this is often called "minute respiration". When extremely intense exercise or exertion is done, the human body can operate at a minute respiration of greater than 40 liters per minute. Blood flow begins to be a limiting factor then, and there are effects such as temporary creation of lactic acid in muscles that can be very painful.
In any case, the point here is that the human body has a NORMAL range of operation that is extremely broad, where increasing the 6 liters to 40 liters or more per minute has probably occurred to every human at some time in their lives. THIS presentation is suggesting an increase of only from 6.0 liters to 6.6 liters per minute. From all medical perspectives, that is an irrelevantly small change, where no adverse effects would occur at all.
A person can certainly cause hyperventilation. Before diving into a swimming pool to swim two full lengths underwater, I was TAUGHT to hyperventilate for half a minute. The premise was to fill the lungs with a higher proportion of oxygen to be used during the next minute underwater, and it was a good technique. However, you may have seen someone intentionally hyperventilate for a minute or two and they probably became dizzy. The reason for that is interesting. As the person hyperventilates for a while, the chemistry of the blood changes. More carbon dioxide is in the blood, which is carried as separate H+ and HCO3 ions (involving a water molecule). This is carbonic acid. When the body senses the change in pH due to the excess acid, it constricts blood vessels to the brain to reduce any damage due to the acid. This constriction restricts the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain! And the person gets dizzy! Weird? You artificially breathe a lot too fast, and you are actually getting TOO MUCH oxygen into your lungs, but that causes TOO LITTLE oxygen to get to your brain!
So we do NOT suggest or recommend any great change in the rate of respiration. Do NOT "triple" your breathing rate, or else you WILL likely start to feel the dizziness of moderate hyperventilation. ONLY make the extremely minor 10% increase that we recommend, which has no medical consequence whatever, except for the CAPABILITY of disposing of 10% more carbon dioxide than usual.
There are a LOT of other potential implications from the reasoning in this presentation. I find one to be especially intriguing!
You probably sleep with a heavy blanket so that you are all toasty and cozy, right? It turns out that IF you really keep yourself warm like that, your body can reduce its sleeping metabolism down to as low as about 20 Calories per hour. Consider instead the simple change of sleeping with only a single sheet over you, where your skin temperature is still comfortable but several degrees cooler. In that case, it is well documented that the sleeping body has a metabolic rate of around 80 Calories per hour.
Seeing it yet? In eight hours of COZY sleep, your SLEEPING body will use up around 160 Calories (8 * 20). But with just the sheet, it will instead use up around 640 Calories (8 * 80)!
This tiny difference could result in your body using up an additional 480 Calories every day, WHILE YOU SLEEP! In just SEVEN DAYS, that represents about one pound of bodyfat! In a full year of sleeping with just that sheet, there is a realistic chance that you could use up FIFTY POUNDS OF EXCESS BODYFAT!
And it happens while you SLEEP! If you should also do any exercising or reduce your dietary intake, even better!
This SEEMS to work! I am not obese, but maybe a few pounds more than I was when I was younger. By sleeping with a rather light cover rather than the very heavy blanket I used to use, and not really altering anything else in my life, I appeared to have lost about 8 or 10 pounds during about six months or so in 2008. My weight started out at that time as around 225 pounds (6'2" height) and it dropped to about 218 or so, after many years if having been rather constant. That is NOT a true scientific collection of data, but I feel that it confirms that the basic premise seems to be valid.
Various Ways to Provide Energy for a DayThis may be of some interest.
In each of these cases, the body can have a normal day of activities, using up a total of 2,200 Calories of energy in the process. This is meant to demonstrate that the human body has a variety of ways to survive. If a mixture of food types is available, we are omnivores, where we can benefit from nearly all of them. If instead, ONLY fat or only carbohydrates or only protein foods are available, the body operates differently but has the same end result. And if NO food source is available, the body uses some of its store of bodyfat to provide the needed energy for survival. Interestingly, in each case, the body creates around the same amount of carbon dioxide that it has to exhale, so there is no significant change in breathing patterns when different sources of its energy are used.
This is also interesting because it seems to suggest that the body can use a diet of ANY combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, with essentially identical benefits! The endless claims heard regarding Carbo-diets or Protein-diets or Fat-free-diets or No-Carb-Diets, may sell a lot of books, but the science seems to suggest that there may not be any actual benefit from any of the fad diets! It is more the QUANTITY of food eaten that is important, given the specific types of food available. If the simple calculation above is used to determine the breathing rate and the daily capability of YOUR body to dump carbon and carbon dioxide, and you then eat accordingly, you should be able to gain weight or lose weight or maintain your weight, no matter WHAT kinds of food you eat! An all-ice-cream-diet may be possible (although it would certainly lack many important trace elements that the body needs for healthy operation)! You would have to be attentive to the fact that the QUANTITY of ice cream would need to be carefully monitored, to comply with the breathing /exhaling capability of your body, but it should technically be possible!
Entirely different subject!
The public is sometimes incorrectly worried that the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere itself might be dangerous. Nope! Inside your (closed) home in winter, you might have concentrations of 4,000 ppmv (parts per million by volume), ten times greater than the natural air outside which is now around 398 ppmv. In old auditoriums which have lousy air circulation systems, a three-hour lecture or Sermon to thousands of people can sometimes result in 10,000 ppmv, which would entirely be produced by all those people exhaling, which can have the effect to make many people a little drowsy! And in submarines, up to 20,000 ppmv of carbon dioxide is allowable! The actual main danger is regarding the established fact that the additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere represents a "blanket effect" to keep heat from escaping the earth. Many Agronomists believe that if the average Earth temperature rises to just 80°F [27°C] (it is now around 59°F [15°C]), that plants (crops) worldwide will no longer be capable of lifting sufficient water from the soil to keep their leaves from drying out and dying. If all the plants die, then there will be no food for animals or humans. The fear is that this might occur within one or two centuries. There is a credible possibility that we might have ALREADY set in motion a greater temperature increase than that.
We have a very comprehensive presentation on such matters at: Global Warming - The Physics of the Process. Atmospheric problems.
This presentation was first placed on the Internet in October 2009.
A Surprising Experimental Failure!As a scientist, I regularly do many varied experiments. In 2016, I tried an experiment I had great hopes for but which appeared to fail miserably. I thought it might be useful if I describe it here. It was related to the countless claims of companies that SELL weight-loss systems. I now see WHY they all tend to fail!
I decided to go on a total Fast for one complete week. Rather than eating ANY food during the week, I only drank a lot of iced tea with lemon flavoring (without ice). Both tea and lemon have ZERO CALORIES, so I assumed that my body would have to burn up around four pounds of bodyfat to live on during the week. It is well known that a pound of human bodyfat contains around 3,550 Calories, so four pounds contains 14,200 Calories. I also knew that my body requires around 1,700 Calories each day to power my metabolism, along with around 300 more Calories to power my muscles to move around and to carry things, or a total of around 14,000 Calories used during an entire week.
So my Fast week experiment was based on expecting to burn up four pounds of bodyfat, so I expected to find that my body weight might DROP by about four pounds during the experiment.
Surprisingly, I FOUND that my bathroom scale body weight ROSE by 10 pounds during that week of total fasting!
A scientist is always confused when a well-planned experiment gives results which do not seem logical, so I was very perplexed.
I soon discovered what had gone on, and I now know how important WATER is in all the products which purport to enable loss of body weight!
Since I had decided to NOT eat any food, I had (instead) drunk quite a lot of iced tea. Each day, my tea maker (coffee maker) made a full load of 12 cups of tea, which I consumed that day. That is 72 ounces, so, to keep my stomach from growling during my Fast week experiment, I drank 4.5 pints of tea every day, or thirty-two pints of zero-Calorie tea during the week. Each pint of water or tea weighs one pound. Therefore, during the week, I had drunk thirty-two pounds of tea!
Note that I had CONSUMED EXACTLY ZERO CALORIES OF FOOD DURING THE WEEK. (Which was WHY I had started off expecting to burn up four pounds of bodyfat and to expect that I would see that four pounds of scale weight reduction during the experiment.)
Now, it IS biologically important for our bodies to take in a regular supply of water, as nearly all the Metabolic processes of the body require water to proceed properly. Our bodies are actually around 60% water, so I began the experiment with around 120 pounds of water in me! And we DO have several natural methods of disposing of water, primarily including urination, sweating and exhaling water vapor in the breath. And MY body actually DID dispose of about 22 pounds of water by those methods during my week of the experiment. (My body disposed of about equal amounts of water by its three main disposal methods during the week, about 7 pounds of water by each).
Unfortunately, since I had drunk 32 pounds of tea (water) during the week, that still left an extra NEW 10 pounds of water in me after the experiment! So my scale weight ROSE by 10 pounds DURING MY WEEK EXPERIMENT OF NOT EATING ANY FOOD AT ALL!
A rather shocking experiment!
(In the weeks following my experiment, my brain and Metabolism gradually disposed of those ten new pounds of water, and my scale body weight DID drop, not only down to my original weight but to about four pounds BELOW that. So even though my 'week-long' experiment had not SHOWN the four pounds of body weight reduction I had expected, IT HAD HAPPENED!)
In adddition, ALL of the desired biological effects of the bodyfat reduction DID occur, including reduction of Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure, and the many other chemical benefits of reduced bodyfat.
But my experiment included a TIME SCHEDULE where I had expected everything to proceed on MY schedule, and NATURE tends to operate on its own schedule!
As a scientist, I am mystified by many things which don't seem to make logical sense to me. One specifically has to do with Marie Osmond and her amazing body weight loss. I still remember her as a teenager, when she was pretty skinny. Apparently, she then weighed around 100 pounds. And she apparently gained a lot of weight later on, even up to 177 pounds according to some internet sources. In recent years, she has become the spokesperson for a diet program, where the statement that is highly promoted is that Marie lost 50 pounds. Fine, I have no conflict with that. However, the (alleged) TIMING of when she lost the weight is what troubles me. The story goes that she wanted to compete on Dancing with the Stars and so she lost 50 pounds of her body weight in an interval of four months, about seven years ago.
The Laws of Science seem to indicate that would be nearly impossible to do, in such a short interval of time!
Say that she had not eaten a slice of bread during those four months. (which is not possible as she would then have starved to death.) Her body's Basal Metabolism needs to use up about 1700 Calories every day. If she worked out really intensely for several hours every day, toward getting back in shape for the Dancing competition, that can use up another 200 Calories per day. We know that one pound of bodyfat is 3600 Calories of energy. So, if she never ate ANY food at all, her body could 'burn up' slightly more than ONE POUND of bodyfat in every two days. In the 120 days of the (alleged) four months, possibly her body could burn up around 60 pounds of her body fat. That would not just be an aggressive diet, it would have to be an ABSOLUTE FAST OF ALL FOOD FOR FOUR MONTHS.
I HAVE heard of some drug addicts losing massive amounts of weight like that, specifically young women who got extremely addicted to cocaine. The cocaine can increase the body's metabolism, which can make that possible. But no other method, and no dieting or exercising can cause a weight loss of 50 pounds in a four month interval.
Obviously, we can see Marie in the TV ads now, and her current weight IS obviously in the 125 pound range, which WOULD confirm that she has lost around 50 pounds (since 8 years ago) and she seems to be keeping it off. And I realize that the company that pays the millions to make and air those many TV ads wants to convince viewers that they might lose weight like Marie. I just have a suspicion that the DETAILS might be different from what the TV ads seem to imply. There IS as bunch of fine print in the TV ads, but it is hard to read all of it in a second or two. And Marie NEVER actually says that the dieting program had anything to do with her amazing weight loss (of around eight years ago, in four months).
Some of the fine print which I HAVE read says that a person could expect to lose about 1 to 1.5 pounds of weight per week of being on their program. They never mention the PRICE of their program, and I wonder how many poor and overweight people could afford to be paying for it for more than a few weeks.
Another spokesperson has become Dan Marino, the retired Quarterback of the Miami Dolphins football team. About the only thing Marino ever says in the TV commercials is that he lost 22 pounds. In some of the commercials he refers to 'ten years ago' and if that is accurate, then his loss of 22 pounds over an interval of a number of years makes a lot of sense to this scientist.
The actual effectiveness of any diet approach can have a wide spectrum of effects. I want to describe several different approaches here, to see the effects which might be had.
Each day's ingestion always includes BOTH food components and water consumption. Let's take the most extreme possibility first. NO food at all and ONLY just water. Each pint of water drunk weighs about one pound. Let's say that the person drank eight pints (or four quarts or one gallon of water) and NO food. You might think that your scale weight might have dropped by this, but the opposite is very likely. You would drink (intake) EIGHT POUNDS of water in that day. During that day, your body would likely urinate about 3.5 pounds, your body would likely perspire about 1 pound of water and exhale about 1 pound of water vapor in your breaths. Collectively, you would get rid of about 5.5 pounds of water while ingesting 8.0 pounds of water. The result might seem odd. Your body would GAIN 2.5 pounds of scale weight, while consuming about 0.5 pound of actual bodyfat. Your 'total Fast' would actually use up bodyfat while having your body weight increase.
Let's look at the opposite extreme now. You drink a very minimal amount of water, and essentially eat bread for all meals. Maybe you could reduce your water intake to being just one pint, or 1.0 pound, while eating a full pound of bread, all of which would get digested to create the 2,000 Calories of energy which your body needs to operate on. You would NOT need to use up ANY of your bodyfat, so there is no positive gain along those lines. But if your body was reasonably active in a reasonable climate, During that day, your body would still likely urinate about 3.5 pounds, your body would likely perspire about 1 pound of water and you would exhale about 1 pound of water vapor in your breaths. Collectively, you would still get rid of about 5.5 pounds of water, while only adding one pound of bread and one pound of water or 2.0 pounds total. In this case, your bathroom scale would seem to show you LOSING about 3.5 pounds during that day, even though you would NOT have made any gain regarding your bodyfat content.
A wide range of possible diets are between these two extremes. It might not seem logical, but in any given day, you might GAIN 2.5 pounds of scale weight or LOSE 3.5 pounds! Each day, the net effect is primarily due to the factors of how much food you eat, how much water you drink, how aggressively you breath and exercise.
Human bodyfat is a collection of very complex organic molecules called triglycerides, a type of lipids. Triglycerides are extremely compact forms of energy storage, primarily because they are nearly entirely carbon and hydrogen atoms with very few oxygen atoms.
For example, a triglyceride in bodyfat is a glycerol (C3H5) which is esterified (CO2H) with three fatty acids, such as palmitic acid (CH3(CH2)14COOH), oleic acid (C8H17CH:CH(CH2)7COOH), and alpha-linolenic acid (C17H29COOH).
This specific triglyceride results in a large molecule which is C55H98O6. Note that very little of it is as oxygen atoms, so it nearly all represents fuel of energy storage.
In this specific case, 77.3% of the weight is carbon and 11.4% is hydrogen, with only 11.2% being oxygen. Therefore, 77.3% of the ten pounds of bodyfat which is to be eliminated is 7.7 pounds.
Those by-products are carried by the blood to the lungs, where oxygen is captured from recently inhaled air and the carbon dioxide and water vapor is transferred into the air which is exhaled.
The body can get rid of extremely small amounts of carbon in urine compounds, but not enough to be significant for these needs. There are also small amounts of carbon lost from skin cells that die and are rubbed off. You also lose millions of epithelial cells every day which line your intestine, and you excrete them which accounts for a small amount of carbon atoms, but not remotely comparable to the amount of carbon atoms you exhale as carbon dioxide.
When sitting, we breathe around 12 times per minute and each normal breath is around 0.5 liter of air. This all means that in each minute of normal breathing, we exhale around 0.25 liter of carbon dioxide.
This means that each minute, we each exhale around 0.5 gram
of carbon dioxide, or around 1/1000 of a pound. This includes around
1/3500 pound (0.13 gram) of actual carbon atoms per minute.
This fraction, 3495 / 0.13
gives us 26,900 minutes of breathing twelve times each, or a
total of around 315,000 separate exhalations required.
Total Exhalations for a Specific Amount of Carbon
This amount of time would be required to exhale just the carbon
atoms from the desired loss of the ten pounds of bodyfat. It does NOT
include any exhaling of carbon atoms in any foods eaten during those 18.8
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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Univ of Chicago