Saturday, January 31, 2015

Where Does Your Fat Go?

Picture by Hey Paul Studios from Flickr
Most people will say converted to heat or converted to energy when asked about where the fat goes when you lose weight.

That was what I thought too.

Well, I did until I read that it wasn't so. According to scientists, the lungs play an important role in weight loss too, as most of it is exhaled as carbon dioxide.

In biomedical terms, people trying to lose weight are trying to use the triglycerides stored in fat cells. In order for the triglyceride molecules to be used, they must be broken down into oxygen, carbon and hydrogen via oxidation. While tracing these atoms' leaving the body, researchers found that they leave mostly as exhaled carbon dioxide.

If you lose 10 kilograms (or 22 pounds), 8.4 kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide according to researchers calculations, The remaining 1.6 kilograms become water and may be excreted in the urine, sweat, faeces, breath, tears and other body fluids.

The researchers' calculations showed that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat.

Now you know.


Meerman R and Brown A (2014). When Somebody Loses Weight, Where Does The Fat Go? BMJ. DOI: http//

At least they are riding their fat away ...... on fat tyres
Picture by Jereme Kauckman from Flickr.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Core Work On Stable Or Unstable Surfaces?

Taken by my wife for a talk she did way back in 2005!
Many of my patients engage personal trainers to help them with their workouts regularly. Out of curiosity, I always ask them to tell me what sort of exercise routine they go through with their trainers. Turns out that "core strength workouts" are a very popular choice amongst personal trainers.

Well, here's a post on whether your "core strength" workout is giving you the workout you want.

A group of researchers studied a group of subjects doing core strength workouts. At the start of the study, the subjects performed fitness tests including tests for core muscular endurance, flexibility, balance and a 20 metre sprint.

The subjects trained twice a week for six weeks. Each session was a 30 minute circuit session rotating among three exercises : cross curl-ups, side bridging and bird dogs. One group did the session on a stable surface while group did the same exercises on unstable surfaces.

For example while doing bird dogs (starting on hands and knees and reaching alternate limbs horizontally), a basketball was placed under the supporting hand. As the study progressed, this group added additional elements of instability to each exercise. Example : putting a squishy ball/ balance cushion under the supporting knee and lifting the foot of supporting knee off the floor.

After six weeks, both groups improved significantly.Despite what the researchers thought would be the case, the group who did their exercises on unstable surfaces did not outperform the stable group.

The researchers reported that core strength training is feasible and safe and it produces marked increases in strength, flexibility and skill related components such as balance, coordination and speed.

They concluded that if the goal is to enhance physical fitness, core strength workouts on unstable surfaces has no advantage over the same exercises on stable surfaces.


Granacher U, Schellbach J et al (2014). Effects Of Core Strength Training Using Stable Versus Unstable Surfaces On Physical Fitness In Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehab. 6(1): 40. doi: 10.1186/2052-1847-6-40. eCollection 2014.

Another look - 10 years ago....

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Envy Can Make You A Better Runner For This New Year

My wife said that I haven't written anything for this blog for 2 weeks and said I 'd better get started since I've been in "holiday mood" since Christmas. So here's the first post for this year.

Picture by dingler1109 from Flickr
New year, new resolutions right? How many of you wanna become better and faster runners? Have a read on how envy (traditionally considered one of the 7 deadly sins), well the right envy anyway, can help you race faster.

Now, envy is usually regarded as directed towards someone else's superior status or accomplishment.

According to the authors (who studied runners who took part in the Cologne marathon), envy has many different words in other languages (which is unlike English). These differences account for that fact that you can be "benign envious" - meaning you desire to match someone else's success. It can also mean "malicious envy" - meaning you hope the other person's success ends.

With "benign envy", the researchers suggest that runners may try to level themselves up to be as successful as the person they envied by increasing personal effort to change behaviour aimed at obtaining a desired target. They also focus their attention toward means to achieve it.

In running terms, this means specific goal setting e.g. I wanna run as fast as XYZ did in her last half marathon and doing the necessary training to meet that goal.

With "malicious envy", runners are pushed to exceed their friend's running time as it becomes a mark they judge themselves by. This is not ideal as this is independent of their own situation, leading to low perceived control over future outcomes.

The researchers found that "malicious envy" runners were not strong goal setters compared to "benign envy" runners. The latter viewed others' results resulting from subjective factors such as running more mileage to achieve a certain result and not due to talent alone.

The authors suggest that their study complements previous studies where runners tend to perform better when fellow runners that regularly finish near them were in the same race. This suggests we use familiar rivals as a motivation and benchmark to push ourselves.

Also of note is that while we spend time training our bodies, our minds too play a key role to determine success on race day.


Lange J and Crusius J. (2015). Dispositional Envy Revisited: Unraveling The Motivational Dynamics Of Benign And Malicious Envy. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin. 41(2) : 284-294.