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The Skinny on Body Fat Percentage

Updated on July 25, 2017

Body fat percentages by gender

Friend or Foe?

Body Fat. In the mind of many people it's public enemy number one, an arch nemesis that doesn't ever seem to go away. Kind of like a Chicago cockroach, you step on it, spray it, even torch it and just when you think you've killed it, it scurries right back at you. Like everything else in life, people fear what they don't understand. The first thing you have to understand is that it's impossible not to have any body fat. Even in the a sport like bodybuilding where performance enhancing drugs (steroids, growth hormone, etc) are used to lower body fat percentages to extreme minimum levels, there will still be approximately 3 to 5% present. Depending on the athlete. However, body fat percentages lowered to these levels are not healthy or safe for that matter. These are Professional elite athletes who are experienced in basically killing/depriving their body for a period of time. Lowering your body fat percentage to this extent is quite dangerous from a health perspective, as all of the body's organs, including the major ones, like the brain require fat to function properly and effectively. For all the average, normal everyday folks, your worry is more about allowing your percentage to get too high. However, having too little body fat or having too much are equally unhealthy/unsafe and are associated with an abundance of health afflictions. Contrary to popular belief, It doesn't take rocket science to keep/maintain your body fat to a healthy/fit level. With a little knowledge, motivation and consistency, you can keep that 20 something looking body you had, for the rest of your life.

Difference between Weight loss and Fat loss

The Scale is just a number

Losing Weight

The second thing that you need to understand is there is a very big difference between losing weight and losing fat. The scale is not the most effective indicator of health, fitness or fat loss for numerous reasons. First of, depending on the individual (everyone is different), your body weight can fluctuate anywhere from one to five pounds daily which has nothing to do with your percentage of body fat or muscle for that matter. This constant weight shifting can be caused by a multitude of accounts, like the amount of water in the body, the amount of water and food that is consumed, carbohydrate and salt consumption and dehydration to name a few. Approximately two to ten pounds of gunk can be stored in your colon/intestines at any point of time. So if you do a cleanse/detox and lose five pounds, it wasn't fat that you lost. It is not possible to lose five pounds of fat overnight, the human body does not work that way. So when you see those commercials that are telling you that you can or the guy in the nutrition store trying to sell you the newest fad product tells you it's possible, you can tell them they're in need of a cleanse of all their crap (pun intended).If you are one of those people that lives and dies by what the scale says, I recommend you weigh yourself weekly, on the same scale, at the same time of day and with same amount of clothing on. If the scale stands still for a week or two and you have kept healthy eating habits and a consistent exercise routine, understand you are building muscle.

Think Fat loss not Weight Loss

NutraWorks Weight loss vs Fat loss

Losing Fat

Many people think that making it to the gym for an hour, three times a week is a task in itself. Exercising is the easier part. Controlling what goes in your mouth twenty four hours a day is actually the hard part. If your eating habits are not conducive with your training regime, body composition, age, gender, activity level and health/fitness goal, you will not reach your goal/lose body fat, it's that simple. You can't out exercise bad eating habits nor can you eat everything in site because you are exercising. There are many variable factors that will determine your success in reaching your health/fat loss goal which is why it's imperative you have healthy eating habits. Nutrition is eighty percent of being healthy, fit and losing fat. Your daily macro nutrient break down/intake should correlate specifically with all of your body's constant variables. You're not going to get very far trying to copy the eating habits/diets out of a magazine article or following what your favorite fitness model/bodybuilder's nutrition plan. Everyone's body is different and bodily processes work at distinctive speeds and contrasting ways even if your consuming the exact same thing/amount of food as the next person. Just like eating too much can be a bad thing, so can not eating enough. If you are not giving your body the proper nutrients it needs on a daily basis, it will become deficient, go into a starvation mode and begin to store what you eat (whether it's healthy food or not) as fat in order to protect itself. So I can't stress this enough, your nutrition plan should be specifically designed for your body.

The United States leads the World in Obesity

Tips on Losing Body Fat

Attacking the Fight

Once you have the most important thing down pat, a nutrition plan that fits your body like a glove, then you start the easy part. Punch the clock and put in some work. Replace all your beers, wine, sodas and carbonated sugary drinks with water. Water helps your liver inflate the converting of fat to energy. Drink more water will aid in the fat burning process. If you live in a hot climate, you should definitely be drinking more water. Overweight or obese individuals require more water as well. Your workout regime should have both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Changing up your routines and gradually raising the intensity levels of your workouts on a regular basis. Different fitness activities will have contrasting fat burning effects. It is imperative that strength training be a part of your ritual. Not only does this change your body composition (muscle to fat ratio), the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. Even when your at rest, laying around doing nothing on the couch. Following these simple tips along with your own meal plan will have you on your way to a lower body fat percentage and looking healthy and fit.

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks, this is very informative.