Healthy Living Tips Previous Articles
June 4th, 2011
What Your Scale Won't Tell You
Have you ever envied people who seem to eat whatever they please without worrying about gaining weight? However, just because someone looks thin, doesn't necessarily mean they are HEALTHY.
If you focus on weight alone, you may be missing the bigger picture. As surprising as it may sound, a normal weight or normal body mass index (BMI) isn't a guarantee of good health. Someone who has a BMI in the acceptable range may still have an unacceptably high percentage of body fat. This is called normal weight obesity. Too much fat tissue puts you at risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, associated with type 2 diabetes, among other chronic diseases.
When you're trying to lose weight, the more you know about the composition of your body, the more successful you are likely to be. Understanding your body fat percentage and what it means can help you set smart weight loss goals and ultimately achieve the body you want.
Body fat percentage is exactly what it sounds like: the percentage of fat in your body. A 100-pound woman with 10 percent body fat has 10 pounds of fat. BMI, or body mass index, is not the same thing as body fat percentage. Instead of measuring fat directly, BMI measurements use a person's height and weight to estimate a person's body fat.
Keep in mind that fat isn't all bad. Though the goal of weight loss is often to get rid of as much fat as possible, your body needs fat to perform many of its life-supporting functions, including storing energy, regulating your body temperature and cushioning your vital organs. Letting your body fat percentage drop too low is as potentially dangerous to your long-term health as having a too-high body fat percentage.
The American Council on Exercise recommends a 25 to 31 percent body fat percentage for women and an 18 to 25 body fat percentage for men. (Women naturally have more fat than men because of their reproductive systems.) For athletes, the recommendation is lower.
The two most common ways to measure body fat percentage are the skin-fold measurement (using an instrument called a caliper), and the bioelectrical impedance analysis (using an electrical current). X-ray analysis and water displacement are two other, but not as common methods. All of these have to be performed by a doctor.
Do you know your body fat percentage?
To discover and monitor you Body Fat Percentage at home, click on these links below:
Body Fat Calculator
Determine your ideal body fat percentage
To lower your percentage of body fat, you need a combination of diet and exercise. High-energy cardiovascular exercise, such as running and aerobics, burns calories, which burns fat; combine it with activities that build lean muscle mass to increase your lean body mass percentage. Reducing your overall daily calorie intake and eating a healthy diet also positively impacts your total body fat percentage.
Take a body fat measurement weekly or monthly to get a continual status update of your progress. When you start a new program you should take a new measurement for a baseline.
Don’t let a body fat measurement control your life! It’s just one of many indicators of progress and/or health. Or you may be thinking, "Oh great, one more thing to worry about." But look at this way: If you're working at maintaining or losing weight, you're already on the right track. A healthy diet and exercise are exactly what you need to do to control not only your weight but also your body fat percentage.
If you aren't eating a balanced diet or getting any exercise, you may want to talk with your doctor about adopting a healthier lifestyle. Your scale may not suggest it, but your heart will thank you.
To your health,
(From the articles, "What Your Scale Won't Tell You", and "What Is a Healthy Body Fat Percentage?")