Here at the Intake Office, we like to eat. An entire season dedicated to pie, mashed potatoes, and excuses to skip the gym and stuff our faces with those we hold near and dear is right up our alley. But inevitably, the new year rolls around and we have to sober up to the fact that we’ve bankrupted ourselves on peppermint mochas and packed on some holiday pounds along the way. Even as an athletic startup, we’ll be the first to admit that jumping back into a regular fitness routine after weeks of hibernating is…very tough.
So imagine our joy when we stumbled across a study published in The British Medical Journal that found that we lose most of our excess weight by–wait for it–breathing it out.
Of each pound of fat that we lose, approximately 84% of it turns to carbon dioxide (the rest becomes liquid that we excrete in the usual ways that we excrete liquid; no surprises there), making the lungs the “primary excretory organ for fat,” according to the study.
Our first response to this was excitement (lose weight by breathing!), but we hit a snag pretty quickly–we’ve been breathing our whole lives, so why don’t we all look like athletic superhumans? Of course, you have to first engage in an activity that leads to fat oxidation (unfortunately, this usually means exercise) in order to break apart your body’s fat stores before they can be exhaled. But there is a way to use your breath to boost weight loss and overall health, and we are pleased to announce that this miracle method is–you guessed it–nose breathing.
Nose breathing is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system responsible for rest, relaxation, and feelings of wellbeing. If you’re familiar with our blog, you’ve heard us talk about this before, though not in the context of healthy bodyweight. When you breathe through your mouth, on the other hand, you instead activate your sympathetic nervous system, or fight-or-flight response, in turn boosting the production of fat-storing hormones like cortisol.
Nose breathing has a few other advantages when it comes to supporting beneficial weight loss. It increases your body’s available oxygen, which helps you absorb nutrients, and it helps boost lymph flow, which helps decrease inflammation and bloat. In combination with exercise, these factors encourage your body to shed excess weight, rather than storing it as a sort of evolutionary survival mechanism.
So, maybe we’re not going to be able to breathe away the fact that we went back to the Thanksgiving table for thirds last week. But you’ll definitely catch us at the gym with our Intake Bands on, helping our noses give the rest of our bodies a little post-holiday boost.
Want to read the studies? Click below.
Meerman & Brown in British Medical Journal, 2014
“How Does Deep Breathing Help You Lose Weight?” in Livestrong