A Way to Actually Lose Bodyfat Weight

We all see endless advertising that tries to convince you that some method might enable you to reduce your body weight, lose bodyfat. NONE of such ads ever provides any actual scientific PROOF of why their approach will work for you! They generally show one or two people who claim to have lost weight by following their program of exercise or diet or exotic herbs, but there is never any documentation regarding how long it took for that person to actually lose the 60 pounds he or she claims, or even any independent proof that they actually lost that much (except for an occasional old picture of a very fat person, of unknown number of years ago. They also never provide any actual logic or science to back up their claims, except for showing some person who claims to be a Medical Doctor who makes very careful legal claims about what the approach they want to sell you can and might actually do.

I notice that most of those supposed Medical Doctors are themselves either overweight or obese! One would think that if the program they describe is so amazing, they would have been using it themselves and they would be slim and fit looking. So, for me personally, as soon as I see an overweight man claiming to be a Medical Doctor promoting a weight-loss program, I get suspicious! I have also tried to track down the names of a number of those 'Medical Doctors' in the official records of the American Medical Association and other databases, and virtually none of them seem to actually be medically-certified Doctors in the United States. I suppose for an advertiser's point-of-view, a Witch Doctor from a jungle in Africa provides the required hint of legal truth when building a major ad program around a 'Doctor'.

For a number of years, we have presented several scientifically based web-pages which show the actual physical reality of dieting or exercising. No one ever mentions such actual truth in advertising to sell products!

For example, when working out at a gym, most workouts burn up an additional 100 Calories of energy (or bodyfat) per hour over what your body normally burns up as your Basal Metabolism. A ferocious workout, or the wildly enthusiastic dancing shown in some TV commercials can burn up an extra 200 Calories per hour, but most people could not survive doing that for even one full hour.

So after 35 days of doing an hour workout, you are likely to have burned up an additional 3500 Calories of bodyfat. That might sound great, until you learn that one pound of human bodyfat (scientifically known as triglycerides) contains 3500 Calories of energy in it!

So, regarding religiously doing an hour workout EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR, the best you can realistically hope for is about a ten pound body weight reduction. After a full YEAR of the time and expense of that daily hour workout!

An advertiser certainly CAN find one or two individuals who are so dedicated that they HAVE worked out every day for the past five years. But again, there is NO EXTERNAL CORROBORATION of what that person weighed five years ago! He or she MAY have actually lost 50 pounds of bodyfat, but no one has any way to either prove or disprove it. Maybe that person's Doctor had weighed the person in yearly Health Exams, but other than that, it comes down to THE WORD of the person who is getting his or her 'fifteen minutes of fame'. Such people tend to exaggerate a lot!

An especially amusing example of this is on the air now (early 2013). A woman is on the screen talking, alongside an old photo of her where she was clearly very obese. She says that she 'Used to be Size 18 but that she is now a Size 2'. The speaker is clearly not familiar with just how tiny a Size 2 is! I have dated some girls who often needed to buy CHILD'S CLOTHING when she would not find sufficient variety of choices in the Size 2 that she normally wore. Those girlfriends of mine who shopped for Size 2 all had around a 22- or 23-inch waist, VERY slender! The woman in the TV ad who is claiming that she is now a Size 2, according to my friends who are slim women, is probably around a Size 8 or Size 10. SHOWING her body ruined their claim of achieving a Size 2 from a Size 18!

The participants in such advertising also provide NO documentation as to what else she might have done to achieve a slimming. I was once married to a truly gorgeous girl, who could have replaced any of the Swedish Bikini Team girls in popular TV ads of the late 1980s. She was tall at 5'10", and her waist was 25", and her weight was 127 pounds, all ideal for such a tall girl. After we became married, she told me that when in High School, she weighed 185 pounds (which I had trouble believing regarding such a slender and gorgeous woman I married!) She also informed me that she developed a Cocaine habit that was rather extreme. One of the common effects of a Cocaine addiction is a loss of weight, mostly because the body metabolism speeds up so much. She no longer had the Cocaine addiction, but she DID still have more than $12,000 balance on her credit cards that had been used to buy Cocaine! The point here is that when any advertising shows a Before and After picture of someone, they never mention how many years had passed between the two photos, nor the full history of what had occurred during those years. I never saw any photos of my ex-wife as a 185-pound girl, but it seems clear that many advertisers would have really used that photo alongside a 24-year-old photo of her as a Super-Model at 127 pounds. The advertisers would never have mentioned that six years had gone by between the two photos, along with a LOT of Cocaine. Yes, she also was a Member of a Gym, where she worked out a couple times each week, but any such advertising about her would have been extremely deceptive, even though American Laws would have seen it as all entirely legal!

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Getting down to actual facts.

Each day, you eat a variety of food, nearly all of which is chemically made of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. The REASON you eat the food is because the Carbon atoms can be OXIDIZED into becoming carbon dioxide molecules, which happens to give off an impressive amount of energy in that process. Similarly, the Hydrogen atoms can also be OXIDIZED into becoming water molecules, which also happens to give off an impressive amount of energy in that process.

ALL 'fuels' including Fossil Fuels and all organic materials contain these same Carbon and Hydrogen atoms to create energy. Some of the fuel materials also include oxygen atoms, which actually just provide some of the oxygen atoms needed for that Oxidation process.

Virtually no one realizes the following! When you are DONE with the food you DIGEST, it does NOT leave you in the way you have always thought! That excretion process actually only gets rid of some materials we eat which we cannot digest, including Fiber (which therefore essentially simply passes right through us without ever being digested!) There are also dead cells from the intestinal walls that need to get rid of.

The point here is that ALL the food that you actually DIGEST, does NOT leave you in that manner. But there is a Scientific Law called the Conservation of Matter, which means that SOMETHING must happen to all those carbon and hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the food we eat!

As it happens, an adult American man eats and digest around ONE POUND of food each day, otherwise described as 454 grams of food. That food is mostly a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but E.Coli bacteria in your intestine extracts the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms from that food and gets those atoms into your blood stream. So the atoms STILL EXIST at this time!

Your body either immediately USES the energy in those carbon and hydrogen atoms, inside of every individual cell, in what is called the Mitochondria. There is a complex chemical cycle that begins with those carbon and hydrogen atoms, called the Krebs Cycle or Citric Acid Cycle, which oxidizes the carbon and hydrogen atoms into carbon dioxide and water molecules. The energy produced inside all the cells gets briefly stored in special chemicals called ADP and ATP. The ADP and ATP get used by cells to stay alive and to do the functions they have. The carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms inside their new molecules get transferred into the bloodstream (they still exist!) and they get carried by the blood to the lungs. When they get to the surfaces of the lungs, oxygen atoms (both ions and molecules) recently breathed in now chemically exchange places with the carbon dioxide ions and molecules.

This revitalizes the blood, which now carries a lot of new oxygen, which gets used by cells all through the body (eventually winding up chemically combining with carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms as above, after they are no longer of use).

There is a well-known chemical Law called Dalton's Law of partial pressures, which equalizes the concentration of molecules inside the lungs, particularly the oxygen and nitrogen molecules from the air that was inhaled and the carbon dioxide and water vapor molecules which had recently been extracted from the blood. Due to chemical effects, a maximum of around 4.4% of the air in the lungs therefore is carbon dioxide. When the person exhales, these carbon atoms FINALLY are able to leave the body! Amazingly, a human body has virtually no other efficient way to dump very many carbon atoms, and so virtually ALL of them must leave in exhaled breath! The hydrogen atoms do similar things, but since they are water molecules within the rather warm (98.6°F) interior of the lungs, much of that water evaporates into water vapor, and the exhaled breath therefore also contains a good deal of humidity, which gets rid of the hydrogen atoms we need to get rid of, along with a lot of oxygen atoms.

As it happens, each normal breath in an adult man contains about 500ml of air. A very small fraction of an inhaled breath contains carbon from the atmosphere (around one part in 2000 or 0.039%). But every exhaled breath contains pretty nearly the maximum 4.4% concentration of carbon dioxide. Relatively simple math shows that every exhaled breath therefore contains about 22ml or 0.0405 gram of carbon dioxide. This amount of carbon dioxide contains 0.011 gram of actual carbon atoms. We breathe about 12 times per minute or about 17,000 times in a 24-hour day. Multiplying, we see that we exhale around 189 grams of carbon atoms each day. Thos is about 0.4 pound, and essentially exactly the amount of carbon atoms we ATE during that day, when we total up the fractions of protein, carbohydrate and fat in our foods.

This then has resulted for many thousand years in stable body weights! We eat (an average) of just enough for what our body will exhale during an average day! Pretty impressive!

The Bottleneck

We have plenty of E.coli bacteria in our intestines to process the carbon atoms there. Our blood circulation then moves it around as necessary, and we have amazing numbers of cells whose Mitochondria can oxidize the carbon atoms. We again have plenty of blood flow to get that blood to the lungs, and we have huge (1000 square foot or 93 m2) areas of surface in our lungs to process the carbon there.

There is really only one real bottleneck regarding these processes, and that is in our rather narrow nostrils, through which we breathe!

Each nostril gets a little narrower farther in, and a reasonable estimate for the cross-sectional area of a nostril is about 0.75 cm2. We learned above that an average breath contains around 500 ml or 500 3 and since we breathe about 12 times per minute, each exhalation goes for about 2.5 second. Using these numbers, we can calculate that during exhalation, the air goes through our (two) nostrils at about 1.5 meter per second or around 3 mph, which is roughly walking speed.

When you exert yourself, your metabolism needs to process more carbon and hydrogen atoms and therefore we need to inhale and exhale faster and deeper. You knew that! But there soon gets to be a limit where air turbulence within the nostrils and the rest of the throat, restricts the airspeed and the air flow rate. Therefore, you open your mouth and start breathing through the mouth. This eliminates a lot of the air filtering which the nasal passages have, but the air path has a much larger cross-sectional area. Therefore, by breathing through your mouth, you can exert yourself more strenouosly and for longer periods of time.

The Obvious Solution!

Consider a fixture resembling the mouthguard that many pro and college athletes wear. But structured slightly different! The side structures simply join an upper and lower piece, which are generally against the teeth of the upper and lower jaw. The desired effect is that the jaws are held slightly apart, such that the lips are generally about 1/4" apart. This allows the person to breath through the mouth, most of the time. The new bottleneck for this airpath is the lips, and with the usual opening being 1.7" wide and 0.25" high, the new bottleneck has a cross-sectional area of about 0.4 square inches or 2.8 cm2. Note that this is roughly twice the cross-sectional area of the two nostrils discussed above (1.5 cm2).

This then allows both inhalation and exhalation to process roughly twice as much air and carbon dioxide as when breathing through the nose. In principle, if a person continuously used this process of breathing through the mouth, the daily total of exhaled carbon atoms could increase from 189 grams per day up to about 380 grams per day. If the person still only ate a normal diet which contained 189 grams per day, this would result in a maximum reduction of bodyfat of around 190 grams per day, or about 12 pounds in a month!

Many people might not want to wear the mouth-opening fixture all day every day, and they might just want to wear it while at home or in bed, maybe half of each day. Still, that would represent around SIX POUNDS OF BODYFAT burned up each month! In three months, a 20-pound body weight reduction is realistic!

There is another factor, your brain! If you live an absolutely sedentary lifestyle, your brain may not WANT to double the rate of its metabolic activity 'just because it could'! Not wild workouts, but a decent amount of walking or other exercise activities is probably needed to encourage your brain to WANT to increase the metabolic activity of your body. Certain things like caffeine or some medical drugs can also speed up metabolism.

All in all, not bad! NO wildly drastic starvation diets! NO ferocious workouts or hyper-dance routines. Such things would certainly increase the desired effects, but they seem unnecessary.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in January 2013.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago