We have all heard the statistics about the growing rate of overweight and obese adults in our country. Every year it seems to climb and is now at 68 percent. This means that over 2 out of every 3 adults in America is overweight or obese according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The American Heart Association reports that 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese, and this is now the number one health concern among parents today. If that isn't enough, obesity is now called a Chronic Disease instead of just being a health concern.
No matter which way you look at it, those high numbers are a painful reminder of the need to get our health in order. While there are many people who can see the huge elephant in the room, there seem to be very few who know how to tackle it. In order to tackle a huge threat it is imperative we study it first. It is essential that we understand how the body works. More specifically, we need to look at how the fat within our body operates.
How is Fat Measured?
The method that is used to determine whether a person is overweight or obese is a BMI (body mass index) measurement. BMI is the measurement of the amount of mass that is in the body in relation to a person's height. So, if you are a 6 foot, middle-aged, adult male then the amount of mass that your body should be carrying should fall within a certain range in order to be considered "healthy" or "normal". This allows health professionals to assess whether a person is at risk for certain chronic diseases. However, BMI measures mass which includes the weight of muscle, water, fat, bones, and the weight of organs. Because of this, there are other more direct methods of measuring the amount of fat on the body, but they are not always simple and easy for the average person to do on their own. Even though BMI does not explicitly measure fat, it is still found to be a fairly reliable indicator of the amount of body fat for the average person.
Calculate Your BMI Using the Formula Below:
Interpret Your Results:
Below 18.5 = Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 = Normal
25-29.9 = Overweight
30 and Above = Obese
Example using top equation
Types of Body Fat and Locations
Like I stated earlier, in order for us to tackle the elephant in the room we need to get to know it first. Because of our different hormones, women and men accumulate fat in different areas which produces different body shapes. Women are more inclined to gain fat around the butt, hips, and thighs. Men are more inclined to gain fat around the abdomen and chest. So, if you are wondering why a woman may look like a pear while a man may look like an apple you can thank your sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, for that. Even though we all gain fat in different areas, we all have the same types of fat.
TWO TYPES OF FAT
There are two different types of body fat tissue known as brown fat and white fat.
Brown fat is the fat that helps with heat insulation, it is predominantly found in children to help keep them warm. There is a small amount of brown fat found in adults but, it is not as abundant as white fat. People who are leaner have more of this type of fat than obese people. This is definitely the type of fat we all wish we had more of because if brown fat is stimulated (i.e. by being in a cold environment) it burns calories! And, it can burn white fat! In fact, scientists who study fat are currently trying to find a way to stimulate brown fat which will help with weight loss.
White fat is most prevalent in the body and is responsible for heat insulation, energy storage, hormone secretion, and cushioning if we fall. This is the type of fat that most of us notice every time we look in a mirror and, as we all know, too much of it poses many health risks.
TWO LOCATIONS WHERE FAT IS STORED
There are generally two locations where fat is stored which are beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) and around the organs (visceral fat).
Visceral Fat is also known as "deep" fat. Too much of this fat is the most dangerous because it increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. More than any other fat, visceral fat is said to be most closely linked to insulin resistance. Since visceral fat surrounds vital organs, and vital organs are located in the trunk of the body, then you can definitely tell that you have too much visceral fat if you have a large belly and a large waist.
Subcutaneous Fat, which is about 80% of all body fat, lies just beneath the skin. This is the fat that you feel when you pinch your love handles. Too much subcutaneous fat is dangerous, but it may not be as dangerous in comparison to visceral fat. However, do not get hung up on whether you have the more dangerous type of fat or not because the truth is if you have too much of either type then you are at risk for health complications.
What Happens When You Gain Weight?
Let's start by explaining that fat cells generally do not continue to form after puberty. When you gain more fat, that fat is simply stored in your fat cells and those cells just get bigger. Your fat cells do not start multiplying. However, there could be exceptions to your fat cells increasing in number - such as getting liposuction or gaining a large amount of weight - but the average adult will continue to have the same fat cells that just increase in size.
How Fat is Lost
When you spend hours at the gym trying to get into shape, the type of fat you are losing is the white fat. To decrease the amount of white fat you have, you must burn more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories. So, if you want to lose one pound per week you would need to eat 500 less calories per day. Now, I am sure you know that it is not enough to just exercise to lose weight, but you must also maintain a healthy diet. In fact, exercise alone tends to result in more subcutaneous fat loss while just maintaining a healthy diet seems to result in more visceral fat loss. Therefore, if you have ever lost weight and wondered why you never saw much of a change in your appearance then this could explain why.
Losing weight is definitely not the easiest thing to do for most people. One of the top complaints I hear is not being able to lose weight in an area of choice. For example, some people want to know how they can lose weight in their stomach or in their thighs above any other area. As nice as it would seem, we cannot pick and choose where we lose our fat. Fat is generally lost in order of where it last appeared - if your butt was the first to gain too much fat then it will be the last to go.
THE BEST EXERCISES TO LOSE BODY FAT
To shrink those “Fatty” fat cells and not muscle, you need to focus not only on cardio/aerobic exercises but resistance-training as well. Even though you will definitely lose weight by exercising more often, the best over-all results will come by making healthy dietary changes as well. Keep in mind, if you plan to lose one pound per week you will want to eat 500 less calories per day.
Now when I say eat fewer calories, I do not mean instead of getting the large french-fries you get the small. I am talking about eating clean, healthy, all natural (organic, if possible) foods. Just remember, you cannot regress to the same old eating habits. Having that type of mindset is what got you to this point - you must change your mind to one that will produce a healthy lifestyle.
Here are the best types of exercises for shrinking those “Fatty” fat cells:
1). Cardio/aerobic - Swimming, running, walking, jumping jacks, playing with your kids on a trampoline and dancing are just a few. It is best to do short bursts of exercise (High Intensity Interval Training) where you move from periods of high intensity to periods of low intensity within your routine rather than doing a continuous cardio workout. When you do cardio properly, it can help you lose fat faster, improve your health, and even help you build muscle. But, when you do too much cardio, it does the opposite: impairs your health, fails to help you lose weight, and negatively impacts body composition.
Interesting Cardio studies
· “Research shows that endurance athletes are at a higher risk of heart dysfunction than the general, non-running public, and that the older they get and the more miles they log, the worse the problem gets.”
· “Research shows that marathoners develop more arterial plaque than sedentary non-runners, which increases the risk of stroke and dementia.”
· “The more cardio you do, the more you stress your body, and if taken too far, you can wind up in a state of chronic stress wherein your body can’t adequately recover from your workouts.”
2). Resistance Training Exercise - According to the American Council on Exercise, if you don't include lifting weights, about one-fourth of any weight you lose is going to come from losing muscle instead of fat, and may slow down your metabolism. For maximum weight loss, choose 3 exercises for each muscle group you plan to work out. Use a weight that you can do about 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps with. Do one set of each exercise back to back with a 1 to 3 minute break in between
3). Circuit Training - These usually include a mix of resistance training and cardio exercises. It has been shown that Circuit Training may help you burn fat more quickly. Like I described above, pick two or three resistance training exercises, but instead of going from one resistance training exercise to another, you will do between 30 seconds and 3 minutes of cardio in between the resistance training. Repeat this pattern until you've gone through all of the exercise stations in the circuit-training workout. With these, give yourself 3 to 5 minutes break in between.
We have established that fat is not useless. It is a necessary macro-nutrient and without it our bodies cannot function. However, having excess fat will pose health risks - so it is important to understand the type of fat you are dealing with, how it operates, and how to lose it. The point is that we all must make a lifestyle change by choosing to eat healthily and exercise. Then, we can lower the number of overweight and obese individuals in our country.
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