People ask me all the time how to lose weight. They want to know the quickest, easiest, and least painful way to get rid of excess body fat.
Out of all the habits that will get them closer to their goals, there is one that sticks out as almost too good to be true…sitting in a massage chair.
How is it possible that sitting back, doing nothing, and enjoying a massage can help you lose weight? Not only is it possible, but it happened to opens in a new windowthis hospital administrator. She lost 90 pounds and it all started with sitting in a massage chair.
To better understand how massage can help with fat loss, let’s start with a basic understanding of fat.
Where Does Fat Come From When You Gain It?
Fat forms when extra calories from eating are turned into triglycerides and deposited into fat cells in the form of lipid droplets. Fat is made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.(1)
Many things contribute to this process of gaining fat, especially around the midsection. Some of them are a poor diet, too much alcohol, sedentariness, stress, genetics, and poor sleep.(3)
Where Does Fat Go When You Lose It?
The question of where fat goes is common, but the answer is not widely known. Even many professionals like doctors, dietitians, and personal trainers don’t understand what actually happens to the fat. Many people think fat is burned off as heat or eliminated through the bowel system.
In reality, we breathe out and pee out the fat. Yes, the lungs are the primary excreters of fat, along with the help of the bladder. When fat breaks down, 16% of the carbon molecules become water and 84% are exhaled as carbon dioxide. (1)
Unfortunately, we can’t simply breathe our way to fat loss, but there are some things we can do to help this process along.
How Can Massage Help With Fat Loss?
As I suggested earlier, massage can play a role in losing weight. Massage alone doesn’t directly cause weight loss, but it can help indirectly. This is because massage addresses several of the underlying issues that promote fat production and supports habits that enhance fat loss.
Remember how I mentioned that stress is one of the contributors to fat production? Since massage promotes relaxation, reducing stress and stress hormones can aid in weight loss. Taking 15 minutes to unwind, breathe, and sit in a massage chair lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived stress.(4)
In like manner, massage impacts the soft tissue of the body such as muscles and fascia. This can reduce pain or other mobility issues making it more comfortable to add movement into your day so you can breathe more fat out.
Lastly, poor sleep disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This area of study is called opens in a new windowchronobiology. It means that the timing of sleep and other activities can have an impact on all the systems of the body, causing weight gain. Enjoying a massage session before bed as part of a regular nightly routine can support healthy sleep cycles and aid in weight loss.
opens in a new windowScience Alert – Where Body Fat Ends Up When You Lose Weight
BMJ 2014;349:g7257 (original source of 1)