Man getting set to train

Fat loss – what is thermodynamics?

The key to releasing body fat

Have you been trying to release stubborn body fat and are getting frustrated with limited results?  You are not alone.

In this post, I will share the knowledge and experience of Ellington Darden, Ph.D., who is an exercise researcher and recently named one of the top 10 by the President’s Council on physical fitness and sports.  He is an author of more than 40 books and has 40 years of experience working with people to release body fat and keep it off long term through nutrition and exercise.


In his latest book, Killing fat, he emphasizes the key to fast and permanent excess body fat loss is Thermodynamics.  To do this, we must use focus and compliance to our daily caloric intake and exercise program.   An example of Darden’s result is guiding men to lose 18 pounds in 14 days consuming 1600 calories per day!  This example is an extreme acceleration of results and not one that I do not condone.  Still, I intend to share what is possible by grasping Thermodynamics’ understanding and leaning on Darden’s deep experience.

Thermodynamics was taught by Albert Einstein, who we all know was one of the most influential physicists of the 19th century. In his teachings on this topic, one of the key points is energy and that it can be transferred but not created and is conserved over time.  Energy begins with the sun, and plants can trap the sun’s heat energy to combine carbon dioxide and water.  The product of this combo is a carbohydrate.  Plants grow by sun, air, soil, water, and animals consume plants. Humans grow by eating plants, carbohydrates and animals, which contain fats and proteins.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats supply heat energy units called calories and are stored in the body, primarily in fat cells.

We release fat calories and transfer heat through our skin, urine and exhaled carbon dioxide.  Darden goes on to break it down like this:

Heat = Calories= Fat = Energy = Heat

Fat release = Heat out of the body must be greater than heat in.

Fat gain = Heat out must be less than heat in.

Calories defined

Calories are expressed as energy from food and activity typically measured as heat.  A calorie is the amount of heat it takes to raise water temperature by one-degree celius.  It’s a unit of temperature measurement used to express the energy value of the body’s food or energy to perform a given task.

Most of the food products we consume have the calorie counts listed on the packaging.  The calorie counts are determined by scientific studies and based on the following:

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories.

Most foods we consume today are calculated and labelled. For example:

  • 1 avocado = 240 calories
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries = 23 calories
  • 1 sweet potato = 125 calories
  • 1 Big mac hamburger = 550 calories

Woman measuring waist

Calorie burn

An example of calorie burn using an average man weighing 180 lbs is listed as follows:

  • 1 hours cycling at 10 mph = 327 calories
  • Weight training session = 490 calories
  • Running and shooting basketball = 368 calories

There are 219 calories in 1 ounce of our body fat and  1lb of bodyweight supplies 3500 calories of energy heat.  The thermodynamic principle of releasing fat is to cut calories, produce energy, burn fat and transfer heat into the environment. We do this through exercise movements, and I recommend a steady and consistent high-intensity interval training exercise program. You can check out some of the sample exercises here.  If you are committed and able to apply focus and compliance, you eventually create a healthy habit that will keep you lean and healthy over the long term.

How does fat get eliminated?

As you release fat into the environment, it’s primarily eliminated by the lungs through respiration.  Stored fat released via chemical reactions to power your body during exercise, and it exits the body through your exhaled breath.

Darden goes on to share that according to researchers, 20lbs of fat release equates to the following:

16.8lbs are a result of exhaled warm carbon dioxide

3.2 lbs are eliminated as warm water, primarily through our urine and sweat.

Woman exercising


The essential practice to apply is to reduce your calorie intake and increase your caloric burn rate with a high-intensity exercise program.

You can consider some equipment to help you get started by viewing this connected fitness hub link.  It is important to note that the process does not yield a “get shredded overnight result.” The transformation takes time.  Most of the information available suggests releasing 1 pound of body fat per week.  One can undoubtedly accelerate and improve the transformation by incorporating a simple carbohydrate-rich eating plan with 5 to 6 small meals per day and the proper nutritional supplements.  Consistent super hydration, extra rest and sleep are essential ingredients to add into the mix.  This combination plus firing up the body will accelerate calorie burn and assist with fat release.

Be aware of the diets that recommend eliminating carbs.  When you remove carbs from your diet, the fat and protein you consume in their place will not accelerate fat release.  The source of the calorie is not a factor in becoming leaner. Concentrate on low-calorie dieting, which is the driver to a new slimmer you and linked to thermodynamics, as explained earlier.

I have gone down this fitness and nutrition journey and I’m sharing my passion here with you.  Grab a copy of the free guide – 3 Pillars to improved health on this website’s home page.  You can also reach me for a complimentary discussion to assess your goals.

Click below to see a high-intensity interval training program in session.

6 thoughts on “Fat loss – what is thermodynamics?”

  1. I had no idea that you release fat into the environment through respiration. Very interesting! I think most people assume weight comes off through sweat and elimination. I’ll have to look more into that. Maybe I should really continue with my breathwork routine lol. 

    My aunt is having a hard time losing weight right now so I’ll share your article with her. It contains a lot of helpful information. Thank you!

    1. Hey Nicole,  yes, the majority of it is released is through exhaled warm Co2 primarily through High-intensity exercise and the remainder is as you put it. lol.  Yes, please share it and feel free to reach out any time.   Be well. 

  2. Joseph Stasaitis

    This is very interesting information on thermodynamics. I was not familiar with the exact meaning of the term prior to your article. I didn’t realize an avocado has so many calories. I have lost 20 lbs. over the past several months as a result of a new morning workout routine that I have done consistently at least 4 to 5 days per week. I also fast during part of the day. You have provided excellent information not only in educating others in healthy weight loss but also in practical ways to apply it.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Joseph.  Yes, depending on the size of the avocado of course. I quoted an extra-large one 😉   Shedding 20lbs is an excellent achievement so a big congratulations to you for enforcing this new healthy habit!!

  3. Michael,

    Nice recommendation!

    For someone like me reading your article can only say that your article has clarified some areas of concern. In addition, it will be great if you can maybe list a few high-intensity exercise programs. The reason why I am asking is that not all of us have time to go to the gym and I believe some exercises can be done from home with little pieces of equipment.

    Thank you.

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