Where Does Fat Go When You Lose Weight?

Weight loss is usually associated with a lower number on the scale and a smaller body size, but have you ever stopped to think about where fat goes when you lose weight? The answer is surprising and complicated.

You may already know that fat is stored energy, and that the body uses carbohydrates and protein as energy, too. It takes less effort for the body to convert carbs to energy, which is why it chooses carbohydrates over fat for energy use. Not to mention, it's also easier for the body to store fat (via Livestrong).

For fat loss to occur, you need to consume fewer calories than your body actually needs. This is why reducing your calorie intake and adding exercise to your lifestyle are so important when it comes to losing weight. Your body can begin to burn fat after about 30 minutes or an hour of an aerobic workout and about an hour of moderate exercise, says  endocrinologist Bartolome Burguera, M.D., Ph.D. (via Cleveland Clinic). As the body metabolizes fat for energy, it produces heat, which causes the fat cells to get smaller (via Mayo Clinic). Interestingly, fat cells never disappear, they just decrease in size (via Healthline).

Fat is metabolized through water and carbon dioxide

Excess fat leaves the body through water and carbon dioxide, which means all of the sweat that accumulates during a workout is a sign that fat is leaving the body. Yes, you are essentially making fat cells cry when you sweat. In addition to sweat, the body eliminates fat through your breath, urine, tears and other bodily fluids, too (via Science Alert). A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) took a look at how this breakdown occurs, leading researchers to believe that the lungs are the primary organs for metabolizing fat. The paper reported that the body converts 22 pounds of fat to 18.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and 3.5 pounds of water (via Science Alert).

So the next time you're working out and giving it your all, remember there is a mighty metabolic process taking place helping your body lose weight.