Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS
Even among health and medical professionals, there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the process of fat loss. It’s basic thermodynamics, right? Energy in equals energy out? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the law of conservation of mass suggests that fat isn’t exactly burned to produce muscular energy or heat. In fact, we have yet to fully understand how this process works. Some recent research has attempted to explain the mechanisms behind this generally misunderstood process.
Biochemically speaking, the process of fat accumulation occurs when excess carbohydrate or protein is converted into triglycerides and stored in adipocytes, specialized fat storage cells located in connective tissue. Excess fat is immediately shuttled into the adipocytes without need of conversion. In essence, those who wish to lose fat mass are attempting to metabolize these stored triglycerides without catabolizing (breaking down) lean mass. In a very complex stoichiometric process involving multiple enzymes and several steps, when fat is “burned” these triglycerides finally reach their metabolic fate when the carbon stores in fat cells are unlocked. This results in the breaking down of lipids into primarily carbon dioxide, which is exhaled. The research suggests that as much as 85 percent of triglyceride loss is exhaled as carbon dioxide and the rest is metabolized into water and excreted through various bodily fluids.1 So, in actuality, it isn’t converted into energy at all. In fact, if it were, the process of fat loss may result in a massive explosion.
Furthermore, this shows that increasing the metabolic rate through physical exertion is a fairly inefficient means for expediting the fat loss process. While spending an hour intensely exercising may increase your overall metabolic rate temporarily up to seven times the basal rate, in general it provides a very modest increase in this carbon unlocking process.2 This provides further evidence that it is very difficult to counteract the effects of excess caloric consumption with increased exercise. Don’t focus your weight management efforts solely on increasing physical activity and just expect the fat to be exhaled away.
doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.