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How Weight Loss Really Works

I feel like this is the most difficult information on the internet to find! I really want to know (out of general curiosity) how it actually happens. I know that if you eat less and exercise more you'll lose weight (it's true, it's happening to me!) but I can't help but wonder how it actually comes off.

Does the weight just dissolve, or do you discharge it in your pee, (or poo - I'm sorry...) or do you actually burn it off the way your body burns off healthy food? Are their acids that turn the fat into energy for your body or something?

Every time I try and find this information online I always get recommendations on how to lose weight - this is my last resort!

Thanks guys!

Fri. Apr 4, 1:21pm

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great question. I hope we get a understandable answer.

Friday, April 04, 2008, 1:49 PM

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think of your body as a furnace. You burn the food in your GI tract first but when that is not available (due to decreased supply - diet, or increased demand - exercise) you burn body fat.
Specifically it is chemical. Your body converts amino actids (proteins), lipids (fats) and sugars (carbs) into energy. I can get more detailed later when I am at home sitting in front of my text books.

Friday, April 04, 2008, 2:07 PM

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try going onto caloriesperhour. com
or under weight loss and they both do a good job of explaining it for you

Friday, April 04, 2008, 2:22 PM

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Funny but good question. Did you ever hear someone say well the weight you lost, I found it?!?!? When someone is referring to their gaining weight...
I know, where does it really go???

Friday, April 04, 2008, 2:52 PM

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It's like asking where the log went after it is burnt- it got converted and used as energy.
Interestingly - you can add new fat cells but you never get rid of them once they are there - they just shrink.

Friday, April 04, 2008, 2:54 PM

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PP, I've heard that too (about the fat cells), but I thought that was dispelled as a myth?

Saturday, April 05, 2008, 8:53 AM

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You burn it up to run your body - just like 'where does the gas go when you run your car'.

You use the fuel whether by eating or using stored (fat, etc) to fuel the body cells and make them function - by products are waste, heat, c02, etc.

Saturday, April 05, 2008, 4:04 PM

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Such a good question...

For so long I have wondered the same thing. I remember as a kid I used to think the more I went to the bathroom the more weight I would lose. LOL...I now know that is not the case. Can you imagine going to the bathroom and getting skinnier while you are sitting on the toilet? Talk about instant gratification!

Saturday, April 05, 2008, 4:56 PM

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Fat cells

One of the PP's was right- the number of fat cells you have doesn't decrease- they shrink. The other part of this though is that when you gain weight, you can always increase the number of fat cells. You can't get rid of them altogether unless you do lipo. But then you have fat growing in weird places because there are no fat cells in the lipo'ed areas!
As for muscle, the muscle fibers increase and strengthen, and some, depending on the kind of muscle fibers (think biceps) can swell or increase in size. If you're burning more cals than you take in, the lean muscle shows under your skin. If not, the lean muscle pushes the fat out, and you might look tubbier for a bit.
The great thing about strength training though is you burn more calories at rest because it takes more energy from your body to maintain the lean muscle than it does fat. And if you don't strength train and just cut calories and exercise, a good portion of your lean muscle is eaten away first, instead of the fat. That's why crash diets leave a lot of people looking loose-skinned and drained.
1. decreased cals and exercise shrink fat cells;
2. strength training increases lean muscle which pushes out to toward the skin;
3. more muscle means more cals burned;
4. eating a healthy combination of fruit, veggies, complex carbs, and lean meat (or another protein source) gives your body the sustenance it needs so it doesn't cannibalize itself.
I hope that helped answer your question!

Saturday, April 05, 2008, 9:07 PM

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PP and the other posts as well, thank you! This is the OP and I can now feel more comfortable with my weight loss knowing how it happens. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain it all for me, PP.

So would you suggest I start weight training immediately? I still have a lot of weight to lose and I've been focusing on just eating healthy and cardio. I know for certain I don't want the whole loose skin thing. I was planning on beginning weight training after I lost the first twenty pounds. I was under the assumption you should lose the weight and then "tone up."

Sunday, April 06, 2008, 10:56 AM

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I think a lot is still unknown

My husband has done a lot of research on the topic of weight loss. It's really complicated, more than just calories in and calories out. Like, the feeling of hunger can be brought on by smelling food, or seeing it, or even just thinking about it.... even if you've already consumed enough to sustain you in your normal activities. So if a food is appealing enough to you, you'll still want to eat it if you're full, and it's a physical, chemical response, not just a psychol.ogical one. The idea of "willpower" is kind of silly when you look at it that way. It's not just your mind you have to overpower.

Most of what we can read on line is oversimplified. Losing weight and keeping it off is incredibly hard, and not only that, it's not the same for various individuals. I think the best we can do is try to figure out what helps us one by one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008, 5:46 PM

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I started lifting weights after I had lost a lot of weight and wish I had started sooner. I feel so much better now that I'm strength training, I have more energy and endurance and feel better all around, plus I'm more motivated to eat well. It certainly won't hurt you to do strength training!

Monday, April 07, 2008, 4:48 PM

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A calorie is a unit of energy, usually expressed as heat.

So, think about what happens when you put hunk of fat on the barbecue. The fat becomes liquid and burns up, producing heat. Without going into the complicated physiology of it, your metabolism is like a slow fire. You are putting out warmth all the time. Energy is also used by all your cells. There's a pretty good explanation on wikipedia:


Monday, April 07, 2008, 4:55 PM

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4/5/08, 9:07pm here :)

I would suggest you incorporate strength training into your routine, but try and get some help first. Focus on the machines that support your body a lot, since you will need them as a beginner. Generally, 12-15 reps and approx. 3 sets of each exercise is a good rule of thumb for lean muscle, but a lot depends on your muscle type, how you react to exercise, etc.
I'd say working out your quads, hams, glutes, core, shoulders, biceps and triceps is a good start. One exercise for each of the above should be good for now. But get some direction so you're using good form!
Good luck, and hey- anytime!
:) CJ

Monday, April 07, 2008, 5:25 PM

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