We all know what exercise does to the body – it makes us look fit, keeps the body healthy, and allows us to stay active. However, very little thought has been put to understand what exactly happens to the fat when we exercise.
So, here is a study that explains what really happens to body fat when we exercise.
What Happens To Body Fat When We Exercise
Researchers found that most of the fat that is burned during exercise is expelled out in the form of carbon dioxide. Therefore, this makes our lungs a primary organ to remove excess fat from the body.1
In addition, part of the fat that you burn during our workouts are removed from the body in the form of water – which happens through biological functions like sweating, urinating, defecating, etc.
Your metabolism is also a factor that determines the amount of fat in your body.
Metabolism And Fat Burning: The Connection
Metabolism or metabolic rate is defined as “the series of chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life.” In simple words, it is the rate at which your body uses energy to burn calories.
Metabolism is partly genetic which means that some people naturally have a high metabolic rate which means they are capable of burning fat at a faster rate than those with a slow metabolic rate.2
A person with high metabolism can burn more calories during rest (basal metabolic rate) and during physical activities than those with a low metabolism. Therefore, the higher the metabolism, the more favorable it is for weight loss and fat burning.
Metabolism is partly genetic but you may be able to control your weight gain with the foods you eat.
Most people associate “body fat” to unhealthy terms like obesity, higher cholesterol levels, and blood pressure but not many are aware that fats are essential for the normal functioning of the body. And your body’s fat depends largely on the type of dietary fats you consume.
Importance Of Fats In Our Body
Eating the right dietary fats can keep a check on the excess fat present in your body. Dietary fats are important for the following main reasons:3
- Fats provide the body energy and promote cell growth.
- Fat protects the functions of the organs and also keeps the body warm.
- Fats help the body to absorb certain nutrients – fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, and K – and balance hormones – thyroid hormone and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
There is a reason why it is important to include good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) like avocados, nuts like almonds and walnuts, and fatty fish, etc in your diet.
Eating right and a good metabolic rate are only part of the fat burning process. Let’s take a look at the number of calories that is needed to burn to aid fat loss to maintain a healthy weight.
Calories To Burn To Shed Excess Fat
We know that exercises or other physical activities burn calories and, in turn, helps us maintain our body weight and appearance. However, most people are not aware of the number of calories to burn to shed body fat.
Pure fat contains approximately 9 calories per gram. However, body fat does not only contain fat, so the calorie count changes. For instance, one pound of body fat (approximately 450 grams) contains about 3500–3700 calories. These are only approximate numbers and different body fat have varying amounts of fat present.
Therefore, if you are looking to lose some extra fat from your body, you need to burn at least 3500 calories.
Another interesting fact about losing weight is that the more your body weight the more calories burned. That is why when you have reached the last few pounds to shed, you notice that those are the most difficult ones, too.
Here is a table listing a few common physical activities carried out for 30 minutes by individuals of three different body weights.4
|30-Minute Activities||Calories Burned By 125-Pound Individual||Calories Burned By 155-Pound Individual||Calories Burned By 185-Pound Individual|
|Aerobics: Low Impact||165||205||244|
|Aerobics: High Impact||210||260||311|
|Bicycling, stationary: Moderate||210||260||311|
|Bicycling, stationary: Vigorous||315||391||466|
|Stretching: Hatha Yoga||120||149||178|
Research shows how high-intensity intermittent exercises, also known as high-intensity interval training, can help with fat loss. These exercises involve periods of hard work followed by brief periods of recovery or rest time.5
However, if you don’t have a fitness routine and you are not used to regular exercising, remember to take baby steps and begin slowly with simple exercises like running and walking and increase your activity levels.
Similarly, if you have any injuries or health conditions that require you to limit your physical activities, communicate the problems with your doctor and physical trainer to get professional advice on the type of exercises you can perform on a daily basis.
|↑1||Meerman, Ruben, and Andrew J. Brown. “When somebody loses weight, where does the fat go?.” BMJ 349 (2014): g7257.|
|↑2||Does Metabolism Matter in Weight Loss? Harvard Medical School.|
|↑3||Dietary Fats. American Heart Association.|
|↑4||Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑5||Boutcher, Stephen H. “High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2010).|