How breathing techniques can help with weight loss

Did you know that “diets” fail 90% of the time?  Even if you do lose the weight while on the “diet” you are most likely to put the weight on plus more when you go back to eating normally. That is because what you eat, how much you eat and how much you exercise are only part of the factors affecting weight loss. There are also the genetic, emotional and mental factors that are either unknown or generally ignored that contribute to weight gain or retention. If you are stressed or have underlying emotional problems from past hurts and/or trauma, you may eat for comfort and gain weight even if you want to lose it. In order to effectively lose weight, you may need to deal with your negative emotional problems and stress. One way to do that is through breathing exercises.

breathing exercises

Therefore, if you find it hard to lose weight despite regular exercise and dieting, keep reading and see how breathing deeply and slowly often can help you in your weight loss journey.

Our bodies are a wonderful machine that works every second of every day, and it needs 3 things-  food, water and oxygen.

Problems are seen when people don’t take in enough oxygen. We cannot accumulate oxygen, consequently we must repeatedly provide our cells with fresh oxygen, so they can work efficiently.Breathing allows oxygen to enter our bodies

We must remember that our breathing patterns can change throughout the day due to for example our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Most of the population is breathing inefficiently, taking in only ⅕ of the needed oxygen. This causes  our body to not work as efficiently, slowing down the metabolism, making our livers sluggish as well as our digestion just to name a few. Dieting changes our bodies metabolism because we are getting a short term gain (weight loss), but then when we go back to eating “normal”, the metabolism has shifted and works at a slower rate.

There is a connection between breathing and weight loss. 

Here is why. When you take in more calories than you can use, they are transformed into triglycerides (a type of fat) which are made of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. These are stored as fat droplets in the fat cells. Breathing exercises help you to lose weight in a number of ways. Here is how it works.

Oxidation

Our bodies are a wonderful machine that works every second of every day, and it needs 3 things-  food, water and oxygen.

Problems are seen when people don’t take in enough oxygen. We cannot accumulate oxygen, consequently we must repeatedly provide our cells with fresh oxygen, so they can work efficiently. Breathing allows oxygen to enter our bodies

Oxygen provides the fuel that runs our bodies through a process called oxidation.

Oxidation changes the food we eat and the liquid we drink into energy, which is used by our body.

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, you then breathe out the carbon dioxide, and the water leaves the body in the form of urine and sweat (1).

Better digestion and metabolism

Deep breathing relaxes the body and increases the metabolic rate, which leads to weight loss. It also increases the availability of oxygen in the body and this extra oxygen helps to burn the extra fat in the body. Some breathing techniques are particularly effective in burning belly fat. 

Deep breathing alkalizes the body

We must remember that our breathing patterns can change throughout the day due to for example our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Most of the population is breathing inefficiently, taking in only ⅕ of the needed oxygen. This causes  our body to not work as efficiently, slowing down the metabolism, making our livers sluggish as well as our digestion just to name a few. Dieting changes our bodies metabolism because we are getting a short term gain (weight loss), but then when we go back to eating “normal”, the metabolism has shifted and works at a slower rate.

Shallow breathing involves mostly the chest rather than the abdomen, making breathing insufficient and requiring a person to take more breaths to get the same amount of oxygen in the body. 

The amount of oxygen you take in affects the pH of your blood, i.e. how acidic or alkaline your body is. A pH value between 1 and 6 indicates acidity, with 1 being very acidic and 6 being slightly acidic. A pH value of 7 is neutral and it is the pH value of water. The pH value of 7.25-7.45 is optimal for health, and is slightly alkaline. A pH between 8 and 14 is alkaline, with 8 being slightly alkaline and 14 being very alkaline. Now, when you over-breathe, the way most people breathe, you tend to reduce the pH of your body, making you acidic. When you are acidic, the body stores excess acid in fat cells in an effort to reduce the acid’s effects on vital organs and you gain weight (2). 

When you breathe deeply, you take in more oxygen which happens to be alkaline and you neutralize excess acids in the body. Therefore, through deep breathing, you bring your body closer to the ideal pH.

Deep breathing alkalizes the body

When you are the ideal pH, your body is oxygenated and you can easily burn excess fat and lose weight. Naturally, the weight won’t simply fall off while you sit, but if you make deep breathing part of your exercise, you will lose weight.

Detoxification

Breathing is also a cleansing tool for our body. It has been noted that 70% of our waste products are removed through our breathing! Wow isn’t that amazing.  

Each day we remove billions of old cells that we no longer need, these old cells  that are acidic in nature may be toxic if we let them build up. If we are getting enough oxygen into our bodies this removal works well. If we deep breath this  allows our body to be in rest and digest mode which allows our body to heal and recover and especially during these hard times we want our body to be able to heal.

Breathing changes your body from the inside, it changes your cells. If you breathe correctly and enough, your cells become fat burners rather than fat stores.

Breathing correctly improves your digestion. With good digestion your body is able to efficiently receive all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients from the food you eat. When we breathe through our chest our body releases  adrenaline keeping us in flight or fight mode. This is not the mode we want to always be as this makes our breathing ineffective.

Relaxation

Deep breathing calms the parasympathetic nervous system which then calms the mind. Breathing allows our immune system to work in it’s optimum state. It allows the immune system to kill unwanted bugs, such as viruses and parasites.

Examples of breathing exercises

There are several ways in which you can breathe in a way that burns fat.

Nose breathing

Nose breathing

Breathe through your nose so you maximize your oxygen levels and avoid over-breathing, which causes increased food cravings. At the same time, breathe with your lower belly to relax the body, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and reduce emotional eating. 

Do this 15 minutes before a meal and 15 minutes after a meal. Check your heart beat, memorize your rhythm and use it for counting while you breathe.

1: Sit cross-legged or in a chair and relax your body. 

2: Breathe in while expanding your lower abdomen outwardly for 5 heart beats.

3: Hold your breath for 4 heart beats.

4: Breathe out by pulling the belly inwardly for 8 heart beats.

5: Hold your breath for 4 counts.

6: Repeat Steps 2-5 for 3 to 5 minutes each time. 

Breath-holding while exercising

If you are fit, and can hold your breath for 20 seconds after inhalation and after exhalation, try nose breathing combined with breath-holding during workout. When you hold your breath as you walk, jog or run, you create a strong hunger for air and you decrease the oxygen saturation of the blood to less than 94%. This suppresses appetite. As you hold your breath every minute, the body works without sufficient oxygen so it is forced to burn fat in order to produce enough energy. This leads to weight loss.

One study at Hampton University divided 60 boys and girls into 2 groups. One group practiced yoga and deep breathing 4 times a week for 12 weeks. The other group did nothing. At the end of 12 weeks, the first group had lost an average of 6 pounds without changing their diet. 

Long breath

Stand up. Tighten your buttocks and at the same time stand with one foot in front of the body, putting most of your body weight on the back foot. Lift your arms above your head and inhale to a count of 3. Exhale to a count of seven (your body muscles will be forced to contract). Breathe in and out for 2 to 5 minutes every day.

Breathe consciously

Breathing is something that you do all the time, irrespective of where you are or what you are doing. Why don’t you take advantage of it and burn some fat while commuting or while sitting at your desk or breast feeding? Breathing consciously means that you can still lose a bit of weight every day even when you don’t have time to visit the gym or to go for a walk. It works even faster to burn fat when you include it in your exercises and hold your breath. Better still, slow and deep breathing will relax you and strengthen your immune system, so you will benefit in many other ways. Naturally, you cannot expect measurable results in one day. You have to consistently practice, and if you are committed to the process while you work out and eat healthy, you will lose weight effectively.

Remembering our body internally even though you cannot see it, is a beautiful thing and we must treat it with respect. Respect with what we eat, say, drink, breath and think! It is a self healthing, self maintaining and self cleaning machine.

References :

1. Ruben Meerman and Andrew J Brown. December 2014. British Medical Journal. When somebody loses weight, where does the fat go?

2. Berkemeyer S. Sep 2009. Medical Hypotheses. Acid-base balance and weight gain: are there crucial links via protein and organic acids in understanding obesity?


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