How Fat is Fat?
One of the first
comments I hear from my clients when assessing goals for a fitness program
is "I'm too fat", I need to lose weight. This is a valid goal to lose weight,
however, what is an optimal amount of weight and what is too fat.
endeavor to beat the buldge, more often than not we lose site of what the
ultimate goal should be. To improve on our current health status and decrease
the risk of certain health conditions associated with obesity. To make the
necessary lifestyle changes that will enable us to sustain the benefits recieved
thru an active lifestyle. After all that is ultimately what we want, to improve
our lives and make healthier food choices.
The answer to the question of how much weight to lose and what is to fat
depends largely upon an individuals body type. Genetics play a major role
in how we lose and gain weight.Certain genetic factors can be altered, although
Fat plays a major role in our health. Fat
provides protection for our internal organs, provides energy for daily activity,
provides essential fatty acids necessary for proper functioning of cell membranes,
skin, hormones and the transportation and storage of fat soluble vitamins, vitamins A,D,E and K.
Fat is calorically dense, providing twice as many calories as carbohydrates.
Fat is a useful source of energy for low to moderately intense aerobic exercise
lasting 30 minutes or more. Fat provides 9kcal/gram as opossed to carbohydrates
4kcal/gram. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories.
High fat diets should
be avoided as they have been associated with health conditions such as hypertension,
diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer. Limiting
dietary fat is the first step to weight loss. Consuming nutrious foods is
essential to good health and weight loss.
How Do I Know If I am Fat?
body fat percentage is the first step to determining just how much weight
needs to be lost. There are several ways to determine body fat percentage.
Some more accurate than others. When we discuss body composition, we look
at two elements, fat free mass and fat mass. Fat free mass consist of the
skin, bones and organs of the body. Fat mass consist of the adipose tissue.Body
weight has usually been assessed without concern for the body composition.
Meaning a well developed bodybuilder may be considered overweight while another
individual would be considered normal weight while having a higher body fat
percentage. When a weight loss program consist of dieting and weight training
it is not uncommon for a person to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass
without seeing a change in total body weight. Body composition measurement
will show the decrease in body fat stores. So dont be discouraged by the
body weight measures alone.
Types of Body Composition Assessments.
There are several
types of body composition assessments used. Some more accurate and expensive
than others. Here are a few of the assessment test available.
Weighing: The individual is seated in a chair connected to a scale in a tank
of water. The density of the body is calculated from the ratio of normal
body weight to underwater weight. The body fat is calculated from the density.
Hydrostatic weighing is accurate and considered the "gold standard" for assessing
Anthropometry: One of the easiest and least expensive ways to assess body
compositon. Anthropometry consist of skinfold calipers and circumference
measurements. Circumference measures can be easily used to assess body fat.
A cloth or plastic tape measure is required and exact anatomical lanfmarks
must be used. The tape measure should be held firmly about the body without
causing an indentation to the skin. Skinfold calipers work on the theory
that 50% of body fat lies beneath the skin. Measuring the skin thickness
at specific sites and adding the results. The results are then compared to
a chart to find the body fat percentages.
BMI: Body mass index consist of measuring a persons height in inches and
weight in pounds, then utilizing the BMI chart to calculate the BMI number.
This number corresponds to a scale to determine body fat. This system is
fast and easy, but should be used in conjunction with other forms of body
When measurements are taken using either of the methods mentioned, the results
can be near accurate. The results can assist you and your trainer in setting
realistic weight loss goals. General body fat percentages are listed below.
These general percentages are only a guide.
Essential fat 10-13%- 2-5%
Athletes 14-20%- 6-13%
Fitness 21-24%- 14-17%
Health 25-31%- 18-24%
Obese 32 and higher- 25 and higher