Every person longing to be slim has heard the same advice forever: Eat less and exercise more.
So simple, so logical, so what happened?
America is the land of the overweight and the frustrated. For millions of people, every road has led to the same locked door. Until now. I’m going to give you the secret to helping you help your clients reach their weight loss goals in a healthy, lasting and fulfilling way.
For reasons ranging from stress to the influence of advertising, most Americans find it difficult to lose the weight and keep it off. In addition, they are famously sedentary. According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, 70% of adults are overweight or obese, contributing to health risks including heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and more. (“Health Statistics,” 2015).
Either for health of vanity reasons, many of these overweight men and women try to slim down and usually gaining back at least as many pounds as they lost. The secret to effectively losing the weight and transforming patterns of behavior happens with breath.
- Learn how breath influences fat burning.
- Learn that the fat leaves on the exhale.
- Learn the transforming habitual patterns of behavior.
How Breath Influences Fat Burning
The way we breathe, fast or slow, mouth open or closed, shallow or deep affects our biochemical, physiological, biomechanical and psychological states of being. Nasal diaphragmatic breathing is signals our parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system while mouth breathing signals our sympathetic branch. The difference determines whether you’re fat burning or sugar burning.
Can you guess which turns you into a fat burning machine? You guessed it, nasal breathing.
Most of our clients are living in a stressed state (or the sympathetic branch of our nervous system). Not only is this the sugar burning system, it also leads to abnormally high levels of cortisol. High cortisol levels promote weight gain (Sominsky & Spencer, 2014).
In addition, nasal breathing increases oxygenation while mouth breathing decreases oxygenation. The speed at which your body burns oxygen or fuel for fat burning benefits depends on how well your body utilizes oxygen. When we diaphragmatically nasal breathe, we stimulate the vagus nerve: “The vagus nerve regulates metabolic homeostasis by controlling heart rate, gastrointestinal motility and secretion, pancreatic endocrine and exocrine secretion, hepatic glucose production, and other visceral functions.” (Harada et al., 2013).
Watch the below video for a demonstration of power breathing to help burn fat rather than sugar:
How the Fat Leaves on The Exhale
Fats are large molecules made up of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. When the oxygen we breathe reaches these fat molecules, it breaks them down into carbon dioxide and water. The blood then picks up the carbon dioxide – a waste product of our bodies – and returns it to the lungs to be exhaled. Therefore, the more oxygen our bodies use, the more fat we will burn.
Nasal breathing is more efficient than mouth breathing in terms of supplying oxygen to the body as well as the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and red blood cells. When performing cardiovascular exercise, it is therefore preferable to inhale and exhale through the nose (Novotny, 2007).
Have you ever wondered where the fat goes? If you’re like most of us, you probably think most fat is excreted through bodily fluids.
Surprisingly, it’s not.
Based on the research from the British Medical Journal, the majority of fat turns into carbon dioxide which is exhaled when we breathe (Meerman & Brown, 2014).
Transforming Patterns of Behavior
The person who’s been sedentary for years won’t suddenly be persuaded to run a marathon. Core changes must come first to make everything else possible. Using “breath as medicine” to improve health and the training experience, we cultivate the “choosing mind,” where we can alter lifelong patterns.
People become sedentary and develop poor lifestyle patterns based on habit, boredom, or emotional triggers. There’s more involved than just losing the physical weight.
Our issues are in our tissues. We’ve got to transform the emotional and physiological weight which is embedded in our unconscious and subconscious minds.
Watch the below video for a demonstration of alternate nostril breathing to synchronize the prefrontal cortexes of the brain to help burn fat:
Mindful breathing while exercising is being “neurofit” meaning we’re influencing physiological changes in the brain related to behavior. Life is a sensory experience and the body keeps score. Focusing on the breath allows a person to slow down, unwind and look inward. This is crucial for people whose lives are chronically hectic and stressful, who eat without thought, regardless of hunger. With deep, powerful breathing, they can break old patterns while cleansing internal systems.
But, how does this happen?
By stimulating the vagus nerve (which only happens through nasal diaphragmatic breathing), we strengthen the areas of the brain responsible for emotional self-regulation (Porges, Doussard-Roosevelt & Maiti, 1994).
The body always lives in the present. It will never crave a Twinkie because of unrequited love, an upcoming review with a cranky boss, or an unhappy childhood. It cares only about what it needs from moment to moment to maintain homeostasis. The typical brain calls for millions of automatic acts in a day – from adjusting endocrine levels to blinking to deploying white cells for battle. As the connection between body and mind is fortified with breath, the choosing mind emerges reconnecting with our body to hear its’ objective voice which discriminates between emotional reactivity and true desire.
All that from a simple breath.
Learn More About Breath
To learn more about Breath AS Medicine in your personal training, check out Ed’s Breath AS Medicine: Improving Health and the Training Experience online course or one of his live 25-Hour Breath AS Medicine Trainings.
National Center For Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2015. Table 53. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm
Sominsky, L. & Spencer, S. (May 2014). Eating behavior and stress: a pathway to obesity, School of Health Sciences and Health Innovations Research Institute, Retrieved from http://journal.frontiersin.org
Novotny, S. (2007, February 1). The science of breathing. Ideafit.com. Retrieved from http://www.ideafit.com/
Harada, S., Yamazaki, Y., Koda, S., Tokuyama, S. (April 23, 2014). Hepatic Branch Vagus Nerve Plays a Critical Role in the Recovery of Post-Ischemic Glucose Intolerance and Mediates a Neuroprotective Effect by Hypothalamic Orexin-A, Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/
Meerman, R. & Brown, A. (December 19, 2014). When Somebody Loses Weight, Where Does The Fat Go? The BMJ. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7257
Porges, S. W., Doussard-Roosevelt, J.A., Maiti, A.K. (1994). Vagal Tone And The Physiological Regulation of Emotion. PubMed. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7984159