How Breathing and Metabolism Are Interconnected: Ruben Meerman (Transcript)

Full text of author Ruben Meerman’s talk: How Breathing and Metabolism Are Interconnected at TEDxBundaberg conference. In this talk, Ruben shares his knowledge on how to breathe yourself thin by explaining where fat goes when you lose weight.


Ruben Meerman – Author of Big Fat Myths

About seven years ago, I saw this photo of myself and decided that I had to do something about this thing.

So I ate less food, moved around a bit more, and lo and behold, this happened. I lost 16 kilograms.

And you’re probably wondering: How did he do it?

But I was wondering: Where did the 16 kilograms go?

And I’ve been infatuated with this question ever since. I ended up publishing a paper about it in the British Medical Journal, very brief paper — 850 words, two figures.

And then, I published a book about it, which was no bestseller because it told you that you had to eat less and move more to lose weight. No one wants to hear that.

But it’s now a first-year subject at the University of New South Wales, and so I better explain that I did not figure out where fat goes when you lose weight. That was done a long time ago.

In fact, here’s some time posts for you. When Captain Cook sailed past Bundaberg in 1770, we didn’t know what happens to fat when you lose weight.

But when the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Cove, we did know the answer, and it was all figured out by this bloke in between. His name’s Antoine Lavoisier. He figured out that respiration is a combustion. You turn food into carbon dioxide and water. And in the process, nothing is lost.

Nothing is created. Everything is just transformed.

And so, what did I do?

Well, when I lost weight and I first thought about this, I was so infatuated. I wanted to know if I lose 10 kilos, where does the 10 kilos go precisely? And it took me months to figure this out.

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But it turns out that when you lose weight, 8.4 kilos out of every 10 comes out of your lungs, which I think is the best fact I’ve ever heard, so I gave — you’ve got to add oxygen to do this, so you can’t do it (snap) like that. It takes a while.

So I gave a talk about this at TEDxQUT a long time ago now, and then I did a story for ABC TV Catalyst, and I met this fellow, Professor Andrew Brown, who teaches biochemistry. And I showed him my calculations, and he said, “That’s pretty interesting. Let’s try and get that published.”

And so he helped me get it into the British Medical Journal.

And the other thing we did was we surveyed 150 doctors, dieticians and personal trainers and asked them what they thought. And here’s the thing: what they think happens is impossible. You can’t turn fat into energy, because it’s made of atoms. And you would need antimatter atoms to annihilate them.

So that’s literally impossible.

And since then, I’ve realized, well, hang on, this is part of a much bigger gap in health literacy. I’ve asked literally thousands of kids this question: When you breathe in, what are you inhaling? Oxygen.

And what are you exhaling? Carbon dioxide.

What they don’t realize is that they’re breathing in atoms, and two go in, but three come out. And it’s this atom here that is the gap in health literacy. It’s also the secret to weight loss because it means that your exhaled breath is heavier than your inhaled breath.

And when you ask around, so few people know this. Well, have a listen to these people:

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