Saturday, June 27, 2015

Burn Fat with Science

When you lose weight, where does it go?

When you lose weight are you burning Calories or are you burning fat? 

In this TEDx talk ruben Meereman agrees that Calories (a unit of heat) and weight loss (a unit of mass) do not compute and tries to explain that weight loss is about a relatively simple chemistry equation. Meereman purports that "burning" fat through exercise is like any combustion reaction which requires fuel, heat and oxygen. But, does this math add up? 
The molar weight of the atoms above are as follows:
  • Carbon = 12.010g/mol
  • Hydrogen = 1.008g/mol
  • Oxygen = 16.000g/mol

Therefore, one could calculate that the weight of one mole of fat would be:

Similarly, one could calculate that weight of the oxygen would be:
Such that one could estimate that it would take 5.503lb of oxygen to burn 1.899lb of fat.

If one considers that Lance Armstrong has been said to have an active VO2max of 85 ml / kg / min, one can calculate the volumetric rate of oxygen consumption of a 200lb male with a VO2max of 85 mL / kg / min would be:
Next, the density of oxygen at standard temperature and pressure needs to be calculated:

With the volumetric rate of oxygen consumption and the density of oxygen at standard temperature and pressure known, mass rate of oxygen consumption can then be calculated:

Lastly, the time to burn 5.503lb (2496g) of oxygen can be calculated:
Therefore, it would take an elite athlete 8.1 hours at a VO2max of 85 mL / kg / min to burn 1.9lb of fat and 15.3 hours for the average adult male with a VO2max of 45 mL / kg / min.

Am I saying that the key to weight loss is simply “eat less and move more” as Ruben is suggesting? No, hormonal imbalances and metabolic issues prevent you from burning fat no matter how little you eat or more you move. However, I believe Ruben does a great job explaining where the fat goes when you do lose weight. 

Furthermore, if one could measure their VO2max, a service offered by many hospitals and universities, then they would be able to calculate the minimum amount of high intensity exercise required to achieve the maximum result. Which is exactly what an efficient Biohacker would do.

Stay well engineered,


These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. But, what if you cannot exercise first thing in the morning due to time restraints, and working out later in the afternoon or evening is more practical - what are your options?pourquoi ne pas en savoir plus

    1. The only benefits I see of exercising in the morning is being fasted (lower insulin) and will power (excuses increase as the day goes on).

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  10. Hi there, I'm interested in the idea of calculating the minimum amount of high intensity exercise required to achieve the maximum result. Can you please let me know how to do this? I can't figure this out from the article.

    1. It is difficult to know "exactly", but you need to know your VO2 Max for the calculations to be more applicable.

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