By Pam Grout
Reviewed by Sanaz Derakhshan, PharmD Candidate, LECOM Bradenton
In Jumpstart Your Metabolism: How to Lose Weight by Changing the Way you Breathe, Pam Grout introduces an interesting method to increase the rate of metabolism. Grout was inspired by Anthony Robbins’ motivational tapes and noticed they helped increase her energy level. Surprisingly, at the end of the sessions, she had also lost ten pounds by following the breathing exercises. She decided to share her story with all those who either just wanted to lose a few pounds or who had been struggling to shed their excess weight despite trying different diets and exercise programs. Jumpstart Your Metabolism may be of benefit to patients as they can increase their energy level and lose weight at the same time simply by changing the way they breathe.
So how can this be possible, what is the role of oxygen in metabolism and how does breathing have an effect on weight loss?
Metabolism is a process of converting food into energy. The amount of energy produced is dependent on the available oxygen (O2) and fuels such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Through oxidative metabolism, also called aerobic metabolism, carbohydrates are oxidized to carbon dioxide (CO2)which produces molecules of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAHD2). Further, the electrons from these molecules are transported along the electron transport chain to the terminal electron acceptor O2, and the energy released from this process results in export of protons across the inner membrane of mitochondria. The electrochemical proton gradient is then used to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from adenosine diphosphate (ADP), phosphate (Pi)and hydrogen (H+). Based on the above mechanism, breathing exercises are believed to increase the rate of metabolism, energy production and toxin elimination by increasing oxygen intake.
The author states that increasing oxygen intake with breathing exercises burns fat similarly to what physical exercise does when it transports oxygen to the cells. In other words, a sufficient amount of oxygen is needed to burn the excess fat that has accumulated in the body. Further, she explains that “oxygen is food” and it is used as “fuel” to ignite the energy production in the body. However, oxygen, unlike other sources of energy, cannot be stored in the body. This fact further explains the importance of developing good breathing habits. The breathing exercises are instructed in detail as different “cocktails” in the final chapter. One example of such breathing exercises is taking a long and slow belly breath through the nose, hold it four times longer than the inhaled time, and exhale it two times longer than inhaled time through the mouth. The book also mentions that breathing can be affected by factors such as cultural conditioning, emotional repression, trauma, physical problems, giving birth and smoking.
Moreover, the book draws the readers’ attention to other common ways of weight loss such as different diets and exercise programs, pointing out that these strategies may not be the only answers to weight management. Despite trying different available diet programs, many people are still overweight. Those who manage to lose weight following such programs tend to gain it back. Losing weight through exercise is considered better than dieting but it should not be considered the ultimate solution for weight management. One of the easiest ways to lose weight and keep the weight off is to “change the body’s chemistry” by deep breathing exercises.
The book offers alternative solutions to those who have been blaming their excess weight on “slow metabolism.” It emphasizes that good breathing exercises and increased amount of oxygen intake can change the body’s metabolic rate. In the absence of sufficient oxygen, the metabolism slows down and the body is unable to burn fat.
One of the strengths of this book is the Grout’s humorous tone and simple language. These features make the book easy, fun and uncomplicated to read. She supports her theories with examples of people who have tried it but without providing any evidence-based materials.
There should be some concern about performing such breathing exercises with regard to chronic conditions such as asthma and whether or not these practices are safe for everyone. In the end, I recommend this book to those who are willing to lose weight by adding breathing exercises to their healthy diets and regular physical exercise, but not substituting it for established healthy habits.
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