Exercise and Weight Loss: spooky action at a distance

When we don’t know something we tend to assume it must resemble something we experience – empirical evidence. This led Aristotle to give a faulty law of motion which Newton corrected when he found new evidence and Einstein, in turn, made some more adjustments.

Some time ago we though it was calories in, calories out because energy is conserved. While energy is conserved, the body reacts differently to different foods and even to when they are ingested. Many popular diets cut a substantial amount of weight in a short time and then fizzle out and the weight comes back. Often this is dismissed as a short term loss of water. Humans don’t have water tanks so where do we store the extra water? In fat!

Fats and oils are organic compounds that, like carbohydrates, are composed of the elements carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O), arranged to form molecules.
3.1: Understanding Fats and Oils - Chemistry LibreTexts

FAT = x CO2 + y H2O + other stuff

I don’t know the details but a recent article I read commented that camels can drink up to 100 liters of water at a time and store it in the hump (dromedaries) or humps (camels) on their backs in the form of fat. Bears don’t store fat for the water but for the energy to last out the Winter as do other mammals for other times of scarcity. Fat, a multipurpose warehouse for life.

I go for long walks in Portugal, my favorite way to do tourism. I take along a small bottle of water (33cc) and most of the time I barely use it, mostly just to wet my mouth. During the walk I seldom have more than a coupe of beers (70cc). I sweat a lot and urinate during the walk. Where is all that water coming from? The only other source is fat.

Sweating is a human adaptation…


Sweating helped our ancestors hunt on the African savannah. Since most mammals don’t sweat (dogs pant) they cannot sustain long distance running, they need to rest. By chasing them for hours these animals become easy prey for human hunters with longer endurance.

Based on the above I concluded that if we exercise long enough, several hours a day, then exercise does lead to fat loss and weight loss. Of course, exercising several hours a day is not practical for most modern humans unless it’s part of their job.

Another discovery was that during these walks I don’t get hungry. After a breakfast between 7 to 8 am I tend not to eat until very late in the afternoon or early evening on days when I walk. On non walk days I get hungry as usual. The body also uses the fat to generate glucose to power the walks and with sufficient blood glucose the body does not feel hungry.

Isn’t fat (the right kind and amount of fat) wonderful?

The Captain

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Spooky action at a distance

Einstein showed that gravity was not a direct attractive force between masses as Newton proposed but the curvature of space-time induced by mass. With billions of galaxies, stars, and other massive and minute bits and pieces space must have a truly complex and evolving curvature. No wonder there is no solution to the three body problem…

Surely gravity IS spooky action at a distance and it has little or nothing to do with rolling dice, just chaos theory.


Interesting trains of thought but it’s a bit confused as it is confusing.

Although there’s been something of a cottage industry attempting to refute the energy balance and its role in weight management…the Cals In vs Cals Out equation…it hasn’t happened yet.

Likewise the structure and contributions to energy production of fat. As in, adipose tissue is not a particularly large storage unit for water (it’s actually hydrophobic)…the rapid drop in scale weight at the beginning of a diet (especially low carb) is due to loss of glycogenor a major contributor to short term glucose production but rather more a direct contributor. Especially at low intensity exercise or in the well fat adapted … the goal of endurance athletes the World over.

Here’s but one decent description…

Sure, it’s a long read but no one ever claimed that understanding how the body works is easy.


Re: the fat adaptation I mentioned above. This is one of the primary focuses of Z2 training…extended low HR, low lactate intensity that places maximum training stress and ultimately adaptation on the mitochondria (the site of oxidative phosphorylation of free fatty acids…aka “fat burning”)

The very last step in aerobic cellular respiration is the binding of H ions to OH ions to form H-OH, aka H2O.
This occurs in the mitochondria.

Each glucose produces 6H2O molecules via aerobic cellular respiration.

In addition each glucose molecule in solution is hydrogen bonded to some water molecules of the solution. 5, IIRC.

When a glucose molecule is “burned” (aerobic cellular respiration), all those water molecules become part of the aqueous solution in the body. Aerobic cellular respiration is continually adding water molecules to the solution.

To maintain the water electrolyte balance, excess water molecules are urinated.

Aerobic cellular respiration of fats is a bit more complex, but also produces some water molecules in that final step.



Whilst all the above is technically true, probably the biggest source for “all this water” that gets peed and sweated out in the short term during the course of exercise is the blood. Exercise hard enough to break a sweat and have a widdle or two without drinking and blood volume decreases and osmolarity increases. As a good few distance runners find to their cost. It’s called dehydration.

Back when I was teaching on LI, I had a regular class member who was a jockey riding out of Belmont. I could never get him to drink during class. I encouraged him to do so simply because he would’ve been able to work a bit harder, burn a few more Calories to help him make weight. I’d got it wrong. He actually wanted the dehydration that he was producing because that’s how jockeys ultimately make weight and he reasoned it was “safer” than the methods the other lads used…sweat box and diuretics. I guess I had to agree. Of course, the “weight” he lost returned immediately he had his first half gallon or so of fluids


Appetite is more complex and not so well known.

It still is calories in and calories out Captain. No one loves the concept. Everyone loves calories in…the calories out are a love hate relationship. We are after all everyone of us human beings.

Diets fail because the substitution for a while is a drop in calories.

The biggest reason weight is not shed is demoralization. Working things for the day instead of the big goal is hard psychologically for most people.

Well, I think the biggest reason in the short term is believing the wrong thing…or, more specifically, acting upon those wrong beliefs. After all, if a dieter is actually doing everything right and creating an energy deficit then weight loss is inevitable. Not necessarily in a linear fashion, but the overall trajectory for bodyweight will be downwards. I would imagine that for a dieter this experience is anything but demoralizing.

The problem is that the diet industry is so rife with misinformation and outright ignorance that it’s almost a self perpetuating situation.

Over the long term it seems to me that, even with a reasonable degree of success, willpower and discipline burnout can become an issue. Folk get fat because they eat too much…or more than they expend. They maintain bodyfat by continuing the same habits. While motivation, discipline accountability (call it what you like) works for a time, old habits die hard…and, I suspect, the longer those habits have been in place (the longer a person’s been fat) the more likely motivation, discipline and accountability start to suck and the more likely old habits creep back in followed by the weight.

And that’s without all those fat cells pumping out hormones and adipokines screaming “FEED ME!!” as they’re emptied out.

And I haven’t even started on the compensatory behaviour with movement and energy deficit. It’s a complicated problem for sure…much better to not get fat in the first place (thank you mum!)


Your finding that you’re not hungry when you walk equates with something a friend said, “find something else to do besides eating”.
I find if I’m engrossed in a task, I rarely feel hungry. Many of us eat for entertainment or out of boredom.


Thanks for the explanation of how glucose works. When hunters are out in the savannah they are not eating, no carbohydrate input. The glucose must be coming from fat or protein via neogenesis.

The Captain

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Could well be. I’m just trying to make sense of what I’m experiencing. There will be pushback from the conventional wisdom, that is to be expected. It will take diet experts to find out how and why it actually works.

The Captain

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Primarily stored glycogen and circulating glucose. Fatty acids make their main contribution to ATP production by oxidative phosphorylation. Another decent…but not short…description of the process.

What Is Fatty Acid Oxidation? How Cells Use Fats to Make Energy (ATP).

Couldn’t speak to the habits of hunters out on the savannah but endurance athletes are much easier to study. They do make an effort to take in carbs during their runs but, depending upon intensity and time involved, can exhaust available glycogen stores and hope for good fat adaptation to fuel their efforts.

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Fatty acids are part of fat and are made up mostly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, from your linked article…

Fatty acids are the simpler units of dietary fats—also called lipids. There are many different fatty acids, but all have a similar general structure. At one end is the carboxylic acid (COOH)—the group made up of carbon (C), oxygen (O), and a hydrogen (H) bound to an oxygen (OH; called a hydroxyl group)—that makes them acids. Attached to this is a chain of C and H atoms; this is called an aliphatic chain or tail [1,2].

The Captain

Indeed. I’m not sure why you emphasize this but if you’ve inferred that this means that fatty acids can somehow morph into a meaningful source of glucose for energy production you’re mistaken. If it were actually possible for fat to go through this process and maintain glucose levels/glycolysis to any meaningful degree, there would be no such thing as a ketogenic diet.

I was interested in water, a waste product of breaking down fat. Your link provided one of the pathways. There might be others like the neogenesis I mentioned with glucose as an intermediary product.

I did not read the whole article, I just wanted to find put if it destroyed my hypothesis. As far as I can tell it did not. If you want to prove otherwise cite the proper passages. ATP and fatty acids didn’t do it.

And again you proved me right, I expected pushback to protect the conventional wisdom.

In his 1958 book, The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith used the term conventional wisdom to refer to predictable, commonly accepted ideas.

The Captain

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I’ve also experienced this. After a morning run I have no interest in breakfast. The temporary suppression of appetite by relatively hard exercise is well known, though the exact mechanism of why it occurs remains unclear. The best evidence so far is that it involves lactate, a waste product produced by muscle exertion. Lactate apparently down-regulates a hormone that stimulates hunger.

I’ve come to believe that timing major exercise just before a meal is an effective way to lose weight as it often leads to skipping that meal.

Not quite. What stimulates fat synthesis in humans is heavily studied as you might guess and is primarily the presence of excess carbs. In effect, fat is the body’s way to store energy. Fat is not used to store water based on the observations that drinking lots of water does not induce fat synthesis and dehydration does not stimulate the breakdown of fats. A fat person has no advantage over a skinny one in surviving dehydration in the desert. We are not camels.

That may be true, but it doesn’t mean you can control fat production through water.

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You’re getting confusing (confused?) here.

Whilst H2O is an acknowledged breakdown product of both oxidative phosphorylation (fat burning) and glycolysis, the order of magnitude is molecules. Definitely real but inadequate to explain where “all this water” is coming from when you sweat and piddle on your meanderings even though you don’t drink much during those walks. The human body is perfectly capable of withstanding a few hours of inadequate fluid intake quite comfortably without obvioussign or symptom…it’d be a sorry lookout for most folk if that weren’t the case…but try it day after day (the equivalent of a hunger strike but with fluids…a thirst strike) and see how you fare. Maybe “conventional wisdom” is wrong.and dehydration is just a trick used by the Elites and Big Water to bamboozle us all…but it’s unlikely.


I said this happens in camels, not humans. But once the fat is stored by excess carbs the fat is there to be used. I didn’t say this happens, only that this might explain my observations while going on long walks.

NSDT! :laughing:

Again, it’s not what I said. There is a common saying, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Jared Diamond has a different view, “Opportunity is the Mother of Invention.” Evolution seems to favor Jared’s interpretation, the mutations are random, the useful ones (opportunity) are kept.

The Captain

Hardly. During a few hours walk and assuming a reasonable level of hydration ahead of time, the source for sweat and urine production is primary the water content of blood…as evidenced by sweat and urine production that’s more than fluid intake and its effect on blood volume. Plenty of sources available to explain this. For but one…

H20 – The What, Why, When | UVA Rec.

But, as I’ve already mentioned, chronic inadequate intake of fluids in the face of water loss via urination and sweating results in dehydration. No amount of lipolysis or glycolysis will compensate for the loss.

You lose fat or energy to lose weight through your lungs. You breath out CO2.

adding that does not mean getting on a stair master for four hours is a great idea. You eat a cheeseburger and fries and that is out the window as a calorie reduction by exercising.

Water produced by metabolism is called, oddly enough, metabolic water. It is believed to contribute to about 10% of the water need of the body so it is not insignificant. I think what is happening here is that exercise that increases metabolism but not perspiration can produce enough excess metabolic water to stimulate urination.