Have you ever wished for a quick way to test whether a client is burning fat? Scientists from Researchers Laboratories in Yokosuka, Japan, believe they have found an answer—in the form of a portable breath analyzer device.

The researchers developed the device to measure acetone, “a metabolite derived from fat-burning [and] produced in the blood, that is expelled through alveoli of the lungs during exhalation.”

To determine the tool’s validity, the scientists recruited 17 apparently healthy adults and separated them into three groups. Members of the first group kept up their normal diet and exercise routines. Group two participated in 30-60 minutes of fast walking or jogging daily. Group three was placed on a calorie-restricted diet and completed the same amount of exercise as group two. The intervention lasted 14 days. Body fat and breath acetone levels were measured each morning before breakfast.

At the end of the study, the scientists noticed low acetone levels among groups one and two. These groups also showed no fat loss. By contrast, the exercise-plus-calorie-restriction group had lost fat, which corresponded to higher levels of breath acetone.

“Our experiments also proved that breath acetone could be a good indicator for monitoring fat-burning and [that] our prototype is useful for self-monitoring,” the scientists said. “Considering that the effect of dieting could be estimated from changes in breath acetone concentration, the estimated results could be used to adjust the conditions for individual dieting programs.”

The authors conceded that their research was limited and further investigation would be needed to confirm the device’s validity.

The study was published in the Journal of Breath Research (2013; 7 [036005], 1-8).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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