The mathematics of weight loss | Ruben Meerman | TEDxQUT (edited version)

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This is the edited version of The Mathematics of Weight Loss presented by Ruben Meerman.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)


Victoria Arnstein says:

Didn't really pay attention, bc he is like the cutest teacher ever.

piepiepia says:

On a ted talk binge session and this was by far the biggest waste of time

Jae Play says:

i hate it when people associate fat content with weight. weight has a lot of factors… alot of which is water which also happens to contribute to fat content readings. i see this guy heavily disagrees either e=mc(squared)

LukeOfTroy says:

I know where it goes. You breath it out and lose it through heat. I want to get stopped by these people one day :p

Martin Kleiner says:

Reading the comments are more interesting than the talk. I think his final statement saying that losing weight is easy stopped many people from believing anything. It is not easy to lose weight because of food cravings, hormones, etc. He should have just stuck to the topic, "where does the weight go?"

We can either poop it out, pee it out, sweat it out, cry it out, sneeze it out, lose it when our hair falls out, lose it when we cut our fingernails or toenails, lose it as our skin sheds or breath it out (I cannot think of any other way that part of us goes from us to the outside world).

But, what he is basically stating is:
1. The basis of classical physics holds up here; that is there is a conservation of mass and a conservation of energy.
2. There is no nuclear reaction (E=mc^2) going on in your body.
3. If you were locked in a sealed room with a fixed amount of oxygen, food, and water and suspended from a crane with a giant scale the weight would remain constant no matter how much you ate, drank, or exercised. The mass would either be inside your body or outside your body.
4. All organic matter in your body, whether it is fat or muscle is made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. The amount of minerals is negligible as far as weight goes (read the labels of minerals in a pill, they are listed in milligrams).
5. All Food is organic which means it is made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen.
6. When you eat and gain weight or lose weight, all you do is transform the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen molecule into different molecules of the same three elements. You do not create them or destroy them. They are always there.
7. All the talk about whether your diet works or not has to do with psychological and biological responses. For instance, if your body recognizes it is not getting enough food it can go into a mode where it slows down the process. You will exhale less carbon dioxide and take in less oxygen.
8. A better explanation of the actual chemical reaction is: (note there is a small correction in the math in a link on the page)
9. I ask the same question all the time; I especially have fun asking fitness experts. Over 90% of the people tell me that you "burn it off". When I explain conservation of mass and energy, most tell me that physics and chemistry don't work on the body.
10. Another fun question I like to ask along these same lines is where does the mass of a tree come from? A big tree weighs tons! Most tell me it comes from the ground. I ask them why there is no depression in the ground around the tree. Of course, the same answer is here which he described at the beginning. It is part of the cycle. It comes from the carbon in the air (plus water which could come from the ground). Other fun questions: What is the weight of the air the average person breathes in every day? People will tell you air has no weight because it is air.
11. This is why climate change (or supposed climate change if you don't believe it) doesn't come from your exhaled CO2. The CO2 that you exhale is used up by the trees and plants. The net amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is constant. Exhaling doesn't increase or decrease the current amount of CO2. The CO2 from fossil fuels is locked up. When we burn fuels, it is released to the atmosphere thus making a net gain. On a similar note, when a car burns gasoline which is also carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (and a little lead to prevent knock), these atoms are not created nor destroyed. If you weighed all the gas in your car plus the weight of air going into your engine it would weigh exactly the same as the amount of your exhaust.

MrCooknas says:

25:25 minutes of miraculous secrets about: eating less and moving more. This is even more amazing than the chemistry itself!!

Jenny Lynne says:

I've had wonderful results with this product. Weight loss green store tea really worked like a champ for me….worked exactly as promised and I've already lost an inch from my waistline in barely 2 weeks. Looking forward for more…

magicbuskey says:

You didn't address metabolism.

danimigra says:

eat less, move more and dont forget to breath…. brilliant!

James Morgan says:


Duddel Dink says:

Everytime he goes "That's amaaaazing" he sounds exactly like Ricki Gervais :P

kimchi warrior says:

it s not eat less but eat better

Thetravellingcarpenter says:

STOP SAYING EAT LESS!!!!!!!!!!!! Eat the right fucking thing!!!!

madhu kr says:

interesting insight

pineappleprincess23 says:

does this mean my paranoid anorexic brain is right when it tells me there are calories in the air? :(

Mr Fantastic says:

all this video proves is that people are morons

jagara1 says:

19:30 His comment on releasing CO2 into the atmosphere not causing climate change is so at odds with scientific evidence that I start to wonder how good the rest of his 'science' is.

jrg305 says:

The studies do not support exercise as an effective means for weight loss. Only for weight maintenance. There is not a significant difference in weight loss between diet plus exercise and diet alone. There also is no way to prevent lean mass loss when losing weight either. So when people diet and exercise at the same time, they are wasting their time. Just lose the weight, then exercise to get fit. Getting fit takes a calorie surplus. This said if u are morbidly obese, you likely can do both at the same time because a calorie deficit for you is still enough calories to support some muscle growth.

gar par says:

I eat 10,000 calories a day and lose weight because I fuck bitches and eat a vegan diet

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