When weight loss becomes your mission, it’s easy to get fixated on statistics; how many pounds have I lost? What is my waist size? How many grams of protein were in that cheeseburger? It’s also a standard practice to track your weight regularly, and if you do, you probably notice some ups and downs from day to day. This can be frustrating, but it’s also quite normal for body weight to shift around. The truth is that there are many ways weight is actually lost, but people often wonder if pooping is actually a factor in that loss.
How Weight Loss Works
It’s important to first understand how weight gain and weight loss actually work. Our bodies need energy to function, and it gets that energy from the food we eat, which is measured in calories. If we eat more calories than we use to function, that excess energy is stored in fat cells in deposits throughout the body and body weight goes up. If we eat fewer calories than our body uses to function, some of those fat cells will be used to cover the energy gap. Over time, the loss of fat cells leads to a lower body weight.
Most of the energy we use on a daily basis comes from food we eat throughout the day and glycogen that’s stored in muscles and the liver. Adipose tissue, where energy is stored as fat cells, is only used once the normal available energy from food and glycogen becomes insufficient to meet the body’s needs. This insufficiency is known as a caloric deficit, and it is the key mechanism of weight loss.
There are various complex chemical reactions behind this process of metabolizing fat, but the end result is two main byproducts: water and carbon dioxide. Both byproducts are found in the bloodstream and are removed from the body as normal: water is excreted through the skin as sweat and through the kidneys and bladder as urine; carbon dioxide is carried to the lungs and is eliminated through exhalation. So even though it might seem counterintuitive, the fact is that metabolized fat cells are “lost” via breathing, peeing, and sweating—but not pooping.
Pooping and Weight Loss
No one could be blamed for assuming that pooping was the way we actually disposed of metabolized body fat—we probably have all felt significantly “lighter” from time to time after going to the bathroom. While feces undoubtedly has a noticeable weight, it isn’t actually from any of the byproducts of burning fat; rather, it is actually composed of dead cells, fiber, undigested food, bacteria, and mucus. Fat can be present in feces but only as undigested fats and oils in food and unmetabolized fat molecules that weren’t broken down while in the digestive tract.
In the strictest sense, the act of pooping does burn calories through the various muscles and cellular activity involved in the process. Realistically, though, the number of calories burned through a bowel movement is negligible and wouldn’t be a significant factor in weight loss. Pooping can make you feel lighter, however, in part by clearing the bowels and in part by relieving any bloating; gas can get trapped in the large intestine and cause uncomfortable pressure that can also make you feel bigger than you really are.
Ensuring a Healthy Digestive System
Even though pooping doesn’t actually have anything to do with weight loss, there are still many reasons to make choices that promote regular bowel movements. Indeed, a healthy digestive system is crucial for maintaining overall health and a good quality of life. Below are some tips for how to stay regular:
Fiber intake: One of the best ways to maintain good bowel habits is through a high-fiber diet. Dietary fiber is a component of plant-based foods that, unlike carbs, fats, or proteins, can’t be broken down and absorbed by the body. In addition to providing bulk and softness to feces, fiber makes bowel movements more regular, resolves constipation, and may even lower cholesterol levels. You can get more fiber by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains or by taking fiber supplements.
Water: Another big part of maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system is drinking enough water. Sufficient water intake is important for keeping feces moist and soft and easy to pass; this is important in avoiding constipation and in maintaining regular motility.
Physical activity: Exercise and other forms of physical activity are also key elements in digestive health. When we move around regularly, it reduces the amount of time that poop stays in the large intestine where water is absorbed; this also prevents constipation and makes stool easier to pass.
Microbiome: Over the last few decades, researchers have continued to uncover the extent to which our intestines are home to a vast community of helpful bacteria called the microbiome. These bacteria are thought to be important for healthy digestion, maintaining our immune system, protection against disease, and the synthesis of some nutrients. High-fiber and fermented foods are believed to be beneficial for digestion, but there is also some evidence that probiotic supplements may help as well.
How to Lose Weight
So although pooping can’t really do anything for weight loss, there’s no doubt that healthy digestion is good for overall health. If you want to lose weight, however, the most important thing is to be in a calorie deficit. This can be achieved through either a reduced calorie diet or by increasing your daily physical activity level; the goal is to make the number of calories burned be higher than the number of calories consumed.
Losing weight through the traditional methods can be easier said than done however. Each year in the United States, about half the population of adults tries to lose weight through the traditional methods of diet and exercise; the problem is, though, that these methods tend not to work. In fact, even as more and more people are trying to lose weight, the levels of overweight and obesity continue to rise. Even people who achieve some amount of weight loss unfortunately end up gaining it back within a year or two.
At True You Weight Loss, we believe there’s another way. Rather than unsustainable diets and punishing exercise regimens, we offer state-of-the-art non-surgical weight loss procedures that can help set you on a new path. One example is endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the volume of your stomach; this helps you feel full faster and over time can help you adjust your eating habits in a way that willpower alone can’t. If you’d like to learn more about ESG or any of our other offerings, please contact us today to request a consultation.