3 thoughts on “My new TEDxBundaberg talk about breathing and weight loss

  1. Hi Ruben,
    Thanks for all the great information you provide online. I have a question about a surprising result from my Garmin fitness tracker following my breathwork sessions. The Garmin is a wristwatch device that measures heart rate and provides, among other things, estimates of caloric burn for various activities, apparently based on time between heartbeats and my height/weight data. According to the watch, my Wim Hof-style deep breathing sessions (which last about 25 minutes) burn nearly 700 calories! The calorie burn estimates for my other activities are within the expected range so I don’t think the device is defective. Is it possible that the breathwork estimate is correct? If so, would that be due to the expiration of carbon dioxide itself or to the physical work required for deep breaths? Thanks for any clarification!

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Good question. I’m not familiar with the algorithm the Wim Hof Method app uses to calculate energy expenditure or how it was validated (it’s also available for the Apple Watch) but exposure to cold can cause up to a five-fold (5x) increase in the resting metabolic rate. That means you’d be consuming 5x more O₂ and producing 5x more CO₂ than when you’re in the “thermoneutral zone”. The average resting metabolic rate for women is ~1400 kcal/day, which is roughly 1 kcal/minute. A five-fold increase therefore raises the metabolic rate of an average woman to ~5 kcal per minute so, at that rate, you would expend 125 kcal in 25 minutes. Your 700 kcal figure does sound a bit high but I am not sure what else you’re doing during Wim Hof breathing session? The “work of breathing” is about 0.3 to 0.6 joules per litre of air. Adults breathe about 360 litres of air per hour so that’s 108 to 216 joules, or 25 to 50 kcal, which does not account for the addition 575 kcal… but perhaps there is additional physical activity in the Wim Hof method that does for that. I’m not sure but hope that helps to get you started.

  2. I appreciate this reply and the explanation of the “work of breathing.” My breathing sessions don’t involve much movement apart from breathing – exceptions might be some exaggeration in the chest to accommodate very deep breathing and also periodic “breath retentions” for one to two minutes after exhaling. So I suspect the 700 kcals overstates my exertion. Cold exposure is also key to the program (not during deep breathing sessions) so I’m very encouraged by the significant increase in resting metabolic rate!

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