Lose Weight by Breathing: Your Ultimate Guide


Did you know that you can lose weight by breathing?

Did you also know that children who have poor breathing mechanics are more likely to develop crooked teeth and a longer, narrower face that permanently affects their appearance?

Better breathing is the gateway to a whole new level of health and wellness, and with better breathing comes improved oxygenation of the heart, brain, and other working muscles of the body. Let me explain.

If your body is working more efficiently, you are sleeping better, and you’re generally under less stress, you’re helping to create and set up the right conditions for successful fat loss.

Yes, that’s right. Prior to dieting and exercise, if you want to succeed at losing weight or body fat, you have to make sure the body is in balance. If not, results will be slow and take a lot longer to achieve. That’s why breathing can make you look hot AF.

You may be thinking, Shut up, James. I breathe every day. I know what I’m doing. Don’t be so stupid. Well, sadly, that may not be the case, and I’m sorry if I’m about to steal your candy.

Most people in Western society are terrible breathers. They are what we call mouth breathers. Mouth breathing is bad. Very bad. Never be a mouth breather.

Mouth breathing can actually reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches vital organs and muscles, thus decreasing your standard of living, quality of life, and your ability to perform physically and lose body fat. In today’s article, I want to share with you the cool science about being a “nose breather.”

I want you to take a simple test to see how well you can actually breathe. And I’ll give you some simple drills to help improve your breathing ability and take you from mouth breather to nose breather in no time at all.

So let’s dive in.

Lose weight by breathing

Lose Weight by Breathing: The Science Bit

Your respiratory system is responsible for delivering oxygen from the atmosphere to your cells and tissues, and to transport the carbon dioxide that is produced in your tissues back into the atmosphere. Oxygen is the fuel that muscles need to work efficiently.

However, a misconception that many have is that taking in large gasps of air increases the oxygenation of the blood. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The blood is almost always fully saturated with oxygen. It is physiologically impossible.

Think of a glass of water that is already full, and you start to pour more water on top of it. For years, we have been made to believe those big deep breaths are good for us. It feels good, but it doesn’t necessarily help provide more oxygen to the working muscles or vital organs.

This next concept is something I first learned from Patrick McKeown and his wonderful book The Oxygen Advantage.

It’s not oxygen that exerts the primary influence on your breathing efficiency. It’s carbon dioxide. Yes, that’s right, carbon dioxide. Good old CO2. Carbon dioxide is an end product of the natural process of breaking down the fats and carbohydrates we eat. It is returned from the cells to the lungs and the excess is exhaled when we breathe.

However, the body needs to RETAIN some CO2 when you exhale. Correct breathing relies on and results in the right amount of carbon dioxide being retained in the lungs. Why is this important? Here’s how Patrick McKeown refers to the need for CO2.

Think of it this way: CO2 is the doorway that lets oxygen reach our muscles. If the door is only partially open, only some of the oxygen at our disposal passes through, and we find ourselves gasping during exercises, often with our limbs cramping. If, on the other hand, the door is wide open, oxygen flows through the doorway and we can sustain physical activity longer and at a higher intensity.

Mouth breathing leads to over-breathing, which means we are breathing a volume of air greater than that which the body requires. When we breathe in, in excess, we then breathe out too much carbon dioxide that is removed from the blood. This is like having a partly closed doorway, restricting the amount of oxygen that can reach our cells

Carbon dioxide performs a number of vital functions in the body. The key ones are:

  • The offloading of oxygen from the blood to the cells
  • The dilation of the smooth muscle in the wall of the airways and blood vessels
  • The regulation of pH

Here’s the crucial point I want you to take away from this section:

Haemoglobin, a protein in our blood, is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and cells. It can only release oxygen when in the presence of carbon dioxide. If there isn’t adequate CO2 in the blood, this results in reduced oxygen delivery.

With less oxygen delivered to the muscles, reduced performance is a result. The better we can fuel our muscles, the longer and harder and more mentally acute we can remain. In simpler terms, the more efficient our body is (which needs oxygen), the hotter we will look.

It’s science.

If you want to learn more about the science directly, I highly recommend watching this video by the man himself, Patrick McKeown.

Am I a Mouth Breather?

Now that you understand a bit about the science of breathing, let’s find out if you really are a mouth breather. And remember, mouth breathing is bad. Very bad.

Before we test, I’d like you to answer the following questions with a simple yes/no:

  • Do you wake up with a dry mouth in the morning?
  • Do you snore?
  • Do you regularly sigh throughout the day?
  • Do you experience symptoms resulting from habitual over-breathing such as nasal congestions, tightening of the airways, fatigue, dizziness, or light headiness?

Answering yes to any of the above questions tends to lean towards the fact that you are a mouth breather. However, let’s test further to really find out. We need to test your tolerance levels to carbon dioxide and how your body handles it.

Here’s the test:

  1. Find an open space where you can walk in a straight line, the longer the better.
  2. Take a small, silent breath in through your nose and a small silent breath out through your nose.
  3. Pinch your nose with your fingers, close your mouth, and hold your breath.
  4. Walk as many paces as possible with your breath held.
  5. Count the number of paces you can walk before having to stop.

How did you do? How many paces did you get? If you got anything less than eighty paces, I’m afraid you’re a mouth breather. I’ll repeat, anything LESS than 80 paces is a mouth breather. I’m sorry to break it to you. But have no fear, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. I’ll explain how to fix it shortly.

Why Nasal Breathing Will Help You Lose Weight

Here are the key reasons WHY you should be nasal breathing at all times:

  1. Nose breathing imposes approximately 50% more resistance to the airstream than mouth breathing. This results in 10%–20% more oxygen uptake.
  2. Nasal breathing removes more germs and bacteria from the air you breathe.
  3. The nose is a reservoir for nitric oxide, an essential gas for the maintenance of good health. (Nitric oxide plays a central role in dilating the smooth muscle layer embedded in the airways to allow the greater transfer of oxygen to and from the lungs during exercise.)
  4. It will improve your sleep and energy levels.
  5. It will make it easier to breathe during exercise, thus allowing you to work out longer.
  6. It will improve the oxygenation of working muscles and organs to allow you to perform better.

Fat loss really does start with nasal breathing. Good health starts with nasal breathing. Better performance starts with nasal breathing. The fact is … don’t be a mouth breather.

How to Become an Efficient Nasal Breather

The good news is that it’s not difficult to transition to becoming a nasal breather. It just takes time and effort on your part. Here are our top three ways for you to transition to nasal breathing immediately so that you can improve your oxygen uptake and start to look hot AF.

Step 1: Breathe through your nose as often as possible during the day.

Make a conscious effort throughout your day to keep your mouth closed and focus on breathing through your nose only. While sitting down, while standing up, while walking to work. Everywhere you go, start thinking about just keeping your mouth closed and taking small, calm breaths in through your nose and small, calm exhales out through your nose. Don’t over-breathe. Make sure everything is calm and relaxed. This is the first step.

Step 2: Tape your mouth closed when you go to sleep.

Something that is very often overlooked is the simple ability to keep your mouth closed at night while sleeping. Not only will this improve your ability to sleep better, but it will also improve your ability to nasal breath.

Now, this comes with a warning. If you’re a really bad mouth breather, this might freak you out – a lot. Trust me, I know from experience. (I’m a mouth breather, too!) So practice this until you feel comfortable doing this overnight. You might start out by walking and going about your daily activities until you build up enough confidence to do it at night.

All you have to do is simply tape your mouth closed. You can use the standard 3M micropore tape. Or, as in my case, I have an abundance of Rocktape, use Rocktape. The purpose of this method is to simply ensure the benefits of good breathing during sleep.

Step 3: Practice fully holding your breath while walking for short periods of time.

This is a great drill to improve the body’s tolerance of carbon dioxide in the body. We need to create a tolerable need for, or hunger for, air in the body so that the brain can learn to tolerate a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the body.

Similar to the mouth breather test, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go for a walk, the longer the better.
  2. Take a small, silent breath in through your nose and a small silent breath out through your nose.
  3. Pinch your nose with your fingers, close your mouth, and hold your breath.
  4. Walk 5 paces with your breath held.
  5. Keeping your mouth closed, breathe normally through your nose.
  6. Every minute or so, repeat the process.
  7. Repeat for 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. As you gain more confidence, increase the paces by 5 each time. So 5 would become 10, and 10 would become 15 as you get more confident with the breath holds.

Final Thoughts

Learning to nasal breathe will be a hard transition to make in some cases. It may freak you out a bit in the process. However, if your goal is to lose weight or improve athletic performance, this is a great starting point as it will improve your oxygen intake and efficiency greatly.

I would even go as far as to say that being able to go from 10 steps to 80+ steps has completely changed my life. I sleep better, I perform better, my nose is way less congested, and I have less of a reaction to hay fever than I have had in the past 15 years.

That’s a personal experience, so I can’t say that will happen for everyone. But it’s worked for me, and I know it has worked for a lot of our clients.

There are many great resources about breathing available to you; however, if you would like to learn more about his method, I highly recommend reading the book The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown.

Breathing is very often disregarded in the pursuit of health, wellness, and fat loss. However, I can’t emphasize enough that along with our WWS system of Walk, Water, Sleep, it’s where we like to start before we even discuss workouts or nutrition. Give the test a go, and if you feel brave enough, let us know your results in the comments below.


How Do You Lose Weight by Breathing?

Breathing plays a pivotal role in our metabolism, directly influencing the rate at which we burn calories. While it might seem like a passive action, specific breathing techniques can enhance metabolic rates.

The foundation of weight loss through breathing lies in the process of cellular respiration. When we breathe deeply and increase oxygen intake, it optimizes the oxidation of nutrients in our cells, leading to more efficient fat burning.

Practices like deep diaphragmatic breathing, pranayama, and other specialized techniques can improve oxygen utilization, stimulate the lymphatic system to flush toxins, and subsequently aid in weight loss.

How to Lose Weight by Breathing: The Ultimate Guide

To capitalize on the weight loss potential of breathing, one should:

Master Diaphragmatic Breathing: This involves taking deep breaths through the nose, expanding the diaphragm, and exhaling slowly through the mouth. This type of breathing not only enhances oxygen delivery to muscle cells but also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, aiding digestion and enhancing metabolic functions.

Engage in Rhythmic Breathing: This involves inhaling and exhaling at regular intervals, ensuring an optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. This balance aids in better nutrient absorption and a more efficient metabolic rate.

Practice Advanced Techniques: Techniques like the “Breath of Fire” in Kundalini Yoga or “Box Breathing” can further amplify the metabolic advantages. These methods involve rapid diaphragmatic breaths or controlled patterns that can stimulate the metabolism.

Stay Consistent: Like any weight loss strategy, consistency is key. Dedicate specific times daily for these practices and integrate them into your fitness routine.

Remember, while breathing techniques can aid in weight loss, they’re most effective when combined with a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and regular physical activity.

How Much Weight Can You Actually Lose by Breathing Alone?

While the concept of losing weight through breathing is backed by the principles of cellular metabolism and the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, breathing alone won’t result in dramatic weight loss.

Instead, it acts as a supplementary practice. Breathing deeply and consistently can enhance your resting metabolic rate, leading to increased calorie burn even at rest.

However, the actual amount of weight you can lose will be relatively minor compared to incorporating dietary changes and physical exercise. Individual results vary based on factors like overall health, metabolic rate, and the frequency and technique of breathing exercises practiced.

Still, when combined with other holistic practices, breathing can play a substantial role in an overall weight loss journey.

Can Breathing Help Lose Weight?

Absolutely, breathing plays an integral role in the metabolic processes that support weight loss. Every cell in our body requires oxygen to convert nutrients into usable energy—a process known as cellular respiration.

When we utilize specific breathing techniques, we enhance oxygen intake and thus optimize nutrient oxidation, promoting more efficient fat burning. Additionally, proper breathing can reduce stress levels, which indirectly supports weight loss by lowering cortisol, a hormone that can lead to weight gain when in excess.

However, it’s essential to understand that while breathing techniques can assist in weight loss, they should complement other weight loss strategies like diet and exercise, rather than replace them.

Can Breathing Reduce Belly Fat?

Breathing exercises alone cannot target belly fat specifically. However, they can contribute to overall fat reduction and offer benefits that indirectly impact abdominal fat.

Stress has been linked to abdominal fat accumulation, and deep breathing exercises can reduce stress hormones like cortisol, which plays a role in fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region.

Additionally, certain breathing techniques can engage and tone the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, promoting better posture and a tighter core.

While these exercises can aid overall health and wellness, targeting belly fat specifically requires a combination of proper diet, cardiovascular exercises, and strength training focused on the core.

What is the Japanese Breathing Method for Weight Loss?

The Japanese breathing method, often referred to as the “Long Breath Diet,” was popularized by Japanese actor Miki Ryosuke. He claims it helped him lose significant weight and reduce waist size in a short time.

The technique involves taking a specific posture and then taking a deep, 3-second breath followed by a strong 7-second exhale. Here’s a basic breakdown:

Positioning: Stand with one leg forward and the other back. Tighten your buttocks and place most of your weight on your back foot.
Inhaling: Take a deep breath for 3 seconds while lifting your arms above your head.
Exhaling: As you exhale forcefully for 7 seconds, make a whoosh sound and bring your arms down to the front, engaging your abdominal muscles.

The premise is that this method boosts metabolism by increasing oxygen intake and engaging core muscles. While it’s an excellent practice for improving lung capacity and core strength, relying solely on this method for substantial weight loss may not yield the desired results.

It’s best utilized in conjunction with a balanced diet and regular exercise regimen.


7 responses to “Lose Weight by Breathing: Your Ultimate Guide”
  1. Dave avatar

    What do you think of the wim hof breathing as he says get the air in anyway you want for his system

    1. James Breese avatar
      James Breese

      Love the WIM Hoff stuff. Here’s the thing, it’s about applying the best resources from everyone. I think this combined with Wim Hof’s methods are fantastic. Need to do more work around combining both personally, but it could lead to huge benefits!

      1. Nasreen banu avatar
        Nasreen banu

        Hey can nose breathing slim down face and cheeks?

        1. James Breese avatar
          James Breese

          It’s hard to say. But it’s believed it can assist in altering the shape of your face. We’d recommend reading more by James Nestor for full information.

  2. Vic avatar

    What about high intensity (interval training)? Or a 5 min 100 snatch test for example. Are we expected to still keep our mouth closed?

    1. James Breese avatar
      James Breese

      It depends. But, if you are not trained to do so it will add more stress on the body making it much harder and fatiguing earlier. You need to build up to this, but long term yes, that would be ideal. Also, people see the snatch test as an anaerobic test. You can make the whole thing aerobic in nature if trained adequately… Meaning, you’re strong enough AND have a bigger aerobic base behind you.

  3. Nasreen banu avatar
    Nasreen banu

    Sir nose breathing will make face long in size??

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