by Jarueba Taylor
Here is a simple question. What’s your body fat? Now I’m not talking to you bodybuilders, Figure Competitors, or Athletes because you probably know the answer. The people I am talking to is “Mr. and Mrs. Average Everyday Person”. Here is a second question for you folks. How much do you weigh? I’m sure most of you knew the answer or at least had a pretty good estimation of it. If you knew the answer to question two but not question one you may have a problem. If you are an obese person you may have a very serious problem. Knowing what your body fat is may in fact save your life.
What is body fat and what does it mean to know it?
While our bodies are made up of things like hair, skin, bones, and various other cells and parts, it’s also made mostly up of muscles and fat. Body fat is the measure of the amount of lean mass vs the amount of fat a person has on their body. Here is an example of body fat percentage.
If a person weighs 200 pounds and has a body fat percentage of 40 percent, that means that out of that 200 pounds 40 of those pounds would be fat. The higher someone’s body fat is the overall unhealthier they will be. The more body fat a person has, also means the more health risk they may have. Health risk like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and some forms of Cancers all have direct links to obesity and high amounts of body fat. Fat also takes up more surface area, so this will place more stress on joints, organs, and vital parts of the body.
This extra body fat will place unnecessary stress on vital body parts causing a bunch of health issues and even physical appearance issues. What is an acceptable amount of body fat to have? Here is a chart showing different levels of body fat.
*As of Sept. 2018, 25 percent of the population of The United States in 48 states were considered obese. Obesity for men would be considered having a body fat level of 25% or more and for women would be 30% or more.
What are the benefits of lower body fat levels?
Lower body fat level may be one of the main things that determines your quality of life as you get older. there are many health and psychological benefits that come having lowered body fat. Some of the health benefits of lowered body fat are:
- stronger heart
- less inflammation and joint pains
- lowered risk of diabetes
- lowered risk of some forms of Cancer due to some cancers being attracted to fat cells
- more mobility
- more energy
- more physical strength
- more hormonal balance
- better sex
- improved agility, speed, and overall performance
Some of the psychological benefits of lowered body fat are:
- people tend to look younger
- people look leaner with more defined muscles
- clothes fit better or people fit into smaller sizes
- perceived attractiveness goes up
- self esteem and self confidence both increase
- people become more focused
- people receive more positive attention
- general overall feeling of well being
Why don’t doctors talk more about body fat?
Understanding body fat is where most people get very very confused because they do not understand that having a low amount of body fat and more muscle is way more important for long term health. Even our healthcare system and health providers are misguided on this subject. If an obese person goes to a doctor, generally the doctor will tell the person to lose weight. The problem is losing weight is not really the solution. It always amazes me how when people go for check ups, no one knows what their body fat levels are. People do not get tested for body fat levels and the measure of someone’s health is usually based on the idea of how much they weigh. If countless medical studies and literature have shown links between high levels of fat in the body and chronic illnesses, shouldn’t testing for someone’s body fat percentage be a standard practice? Yet when people go to the doctors, their body fat levels are never tested. I am willing to bet most people couldn’t even tell you what their body fat levels were.
What is the difference between knowing weight vs. body fat?
Weight on a scale is only a measure of total mass. If a person steps on a scale and it says 150 pounds it does not say what the break down of those pounds are. The scale has no way of determining how much of that weight is lean muscle vs. body fat. Without having a way to determine how much muscle vs fat a person has, there really is no way to determine what their actual health levels are. Two people can weigh exactly the same weight but look extremely different based on their body fat levels. Not only will they look different but their overall performance and health will be very different too. Over time, this difference will have a profound affect on their overall quality of life. Here are two example of how practically the same weight can look vastly different on a person based on body fat levels.
In the first picture here you can see she weighs the same but look how different she looks. The reason for this is because she had a dramatic change in not weight but body fat levels.
In the second picture here there is actually a very slight variance in weight. She actually weighs more in the second picture but is leaner and healthier because her body fat is lower.
Here is a third example, using one of our own clients. As you can see by the picture there is only a quarter of a pound difference in weight but again a drastic reduction in body fat. While her weight was practically unchanged, she had a half inch reduction in her waist, a one and a quarter inch reduction in her hips, and a quarter inch reduction in her thighs. Typically in women, these are all areas known to hold higher levels of body fat in the body.
How do we measure body fat?
Body fat can be measured thru two pretty effective ways. The first way is thru the use of a body fat caliper. A body fat caliper is a device used to pinch the skin in certain areas to test the level of body fat in those areas. While calipers are highly effective, not everyone knows how to use a caliper and actual results can vary based on this. If you are going to get your fat tested using a caliper, then I recommend you do it thru a professional who has experience using body fat calipers.
The second way is thru the use of a tape measure. Using a tape measure, a person would measure the circumference of certain body parts and plug them into a formula to determine body fat levels. The tape measure is a great method for practically everyone because of simplicity of use. Practically anyone can wrap a measuring tape around themselves and get a pretty accurate measurement. The tape also has a psychological benefit of seeing and feeling the changes of the tape as body fat and composition changes.
How often should you measure your body fat?
Here at BodipHat Gym we do body fat assessments for clients weekly or biweekly. The reason we do that though is because their body fat assessments are tied in with the customized fitness and nutritional programs that we do for clients. As a person looking to simply track their body fat, I probably would recommend having your body fat measured once a month or even once every couple of months. If you are a person with some health concerns then I probably would have it measured and tracked more often. At the very least I would have it done quarterly in a year. It is very important to have some knowledge of where your body fat is. This could be the key to saving your life one day.