In the huge rush to lose weight, countless weight loss tactics, tricks, and tools have popped up. From exercise regimens to diet plans to expensive surgeries to pills, there’s a weight loss plan for almost every personality.
And yet another plan that has recently entered the scene is a weight loss plan based on breathing techniques.
Called the Long Breath Diet, supporters claim that changing the way you breathe can burn fat molecules and get you to the weight of your dreams — all without ever touching a treadmill or drastically modifying your diet.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Read on to find out if the Long Breath Diet really works and what breathing exercises can do for your pursuit of weight loss.
What Causes People to Be Overweight?
Levels of obesity in America are at epidemic levels. More than 66 percent of Americans are considered either obese or overweight.
Within the span of a few generations, humans have gone from a society of hard-working farmers, hunters, and gatherers to a society of office dwellers and snack eaters. As our amount of physical activity has gone down, the amount of sugar- and fat-heavy food we consume has gone up. Factors such as increased levels of stress have also contributed to our weight gain.
What is the main culprit in the Attack of the Bulge on American bodies? Is it food? Is it lack of exercise? Is it stress?
It seems like a mix of these contributing factors promote obesity in North America, but food is one of the most important contributors. The availability of high-calorie, high-sugar foods has become ubiquitous and so has our consumption of it.
When you eat more calories than your body can burn, your body transforms these calories into fat. This process made sense for our ancestors, who faced regular periods of famines and needed these fat stores to prepare for harder times.
The average person today doesn’t ever face periods of severe calorie restriction. For us, when our body stores extra calories as fat, it stays that way. At its core, gaining weight is simple mathematics: You are eating more than your body is burning and expending as energy.
Accordingly, the “trick” to weight loss isn’t a trick at all. It all comes down to burning more calories than you consume. There is plenty of evidence to support this.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed over 48 studies looking at the effects of a variety of low-carb and low-fat diets. They found that there was very little difference in the effectiveness of these diets. The predictor of success when it came to diets was whether the dieters stuck to their chosen plan or not. The researchers note that doctors recommend “any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.”
In other words, any diet will work, as long as you stick to it.
With that being said, will a diet based on breathing really work?
What Is the Long Breath Diet?
The Long Breath Diet was invented by a Japanese actor Miki Ryosuke. He stumbled on the method when he took up breathing exercises to help him get through back pain associated with an injury. The breathing exercises helped with his pain, but he also found that he lost a lot of weight.
On the Long Breath Diet, you spend two minutes a day concentrating on taking long breaths and then exhaling aggressively.
There are two ways of practicing this breath.
The first involves tensing the glute muscles while standing with one foot in front of the body. This places most of the body’s weight on the back foot. In this position, inhale for three seconds while lifting your arms above your head. Breathe out while tensing all of your muscles for seven seconds.
The second way of practicing the technique involves standing upright while tightening your buttocks and placing one hand on your stomach, and the other on the bottom of your back. Breathe out while tensing all of your muscles for seven seconds.
You can watch Miki demonstrate the methods in a YouTube video.
Does the Long Breath Diet Work?
Would this diet work? There isn’t any evidence that supports a link between breathing and weight loss. It’s also impossible that just a few minutes of breathing every day will burn enough calories to help you shed those pounds.
As Dr. Richard Godfrey said in “Daily Mail,” “Medium to high intensity work out — such as rowing, brisk walking, or running — over a long period is the only way to burn up fat and elevate metabolism. Deep breathing and gentle exercises for five minutes a day is not going to burn up enough calories to transform body shape.”
If you want to try the Long Breath Diet, it won’t hurt, but it shouldn’t be the center of your weight loss efforts. With that being said, what does work?
How Breathing Can Actually Help You Lose Weight
To lose weight, you need to modify three parts of your life: diet, exercise, and stress. We’ll show you how breathing plays a key role in weight loss, but not in the way the Long Breath Diet claims. First up: diet.
It’s a lot easier to reduce the calories you are eating than to burn them off. For example, say you eat a cookie containing 200 calories. That single cookie will take you one hour of walking, 30 minutes on the treadmill, or 20 minutes jumping rope. That’s a lot of time to make up for a couple of minutes with a tasty treat.
In order to improve your diet, you need to start reducing the calories you are eating. There are endless ways to do this. You can take up a diet, such a keto or paleo, which work by restricting the variety of foods you can consume, thereby causing you to eat less.
If you don’t want to restrict the foods you are eating, you can start tracking your food intake with a calorie tracker app on your phone. There are many apps to choose from, like the popular MyFitnessPal.
These apps will calculate your daily energy requirement, which is how many calories you need to consume to simply maintain your ongoing bodily functions such as breathing and moving around. They will then provide you with the number of calories you need to eat to maintain weight or lose weight.
Whatever diet you choose, good places to start are cutting out excess sugar and fats and increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits, and healthy protein.
Exercise of any kind can help increase the number of calories you are burning every day. You can either use this burn to quicken the rate at which you are losing weight, or you can use the extra space to eat a bit more every day. The Center for Disease Control recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-level exercise every week. Moderate level exercise is where you are getting your breath up to the point where you can still carry a conversation but can’t sing without pausing.
If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s best that you exercise most of the days of the week. This could be as simple as taking a 30-minute power walk around the block or doing a quick HIIT workout. The key is to get your heart rate up high enough in order to increase your metabolism. Your heart rate should be at least 50 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is your age subtracted from 220.
A good way to make exercise part of your weight loss regimen is to do something you enjoy. This can include exercise classes, such as Zumba, or taking up a team sport. Even on days that you are feeling too tired to exercise, try taking a 30-minute walk around the block. Any way you move your body burns calories.
Lowering your stress can have a positive impact on your weight loss goals. Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases sugars in the bloodstream, which enhances your brain’s use of glucose, making it work faster. It also increases your muscles’ ability to repair. When released chronically, cortisol inhibits the burning of fat. In other words, if you are constantly stressed, you may find it hard to lose weight.
This is where breathing exercises come back into the story. Breathing exercises are excellent for using during the day to help calm you down, lower anxiety, and sleep better.
Deep breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, are often used during meditation. They help increase the amount of oxygen going into your body and remove carbon dioxide from your lungs. This signals to your brain that things are OK and helps diminish stress levels.
Another deep breathing technique is Alternate Nostril Breathing, which is Hillary Clinton’s chosen method for calming down on demand.
We have a big variety of breathing technique articles available on our blog. If you’re serious about controlling stress, you might also consider incorporating the Spire Stone into your life. Spire measures your breathing rate and can detect when your body is entering a state of stress. It then sends a notification to your phone, telling you when you need to take a break and do some breathing exercises.
Weight Loss Is as Simple as Breathing
Losing weight isn’t easy — but it’s not complicated either. It’s all about being consistent on a daily basis with your exercise and diet regimen. At first, you’ll find that it’s hard to make time for exercise and to neglect your favorite foods. You may cheat a bit and sneak in your favorite food from time to time. But after awhile, your diet and exercise regimen will simply become part of your normal life, just like breathing.