Healthy Perspective by Chris Fissel


"Skinny Fat" is not healthy.  Here is more information about body composition and why the FREE 30 Day Body Transformation Challenge could be a great eye opener for you!

The difference between being thin and being healthy is body composition.  For example, a very thin woman who wears a size 2 may be "skinny fat" because she does not exercise and, therefore, has a high percentage of body fat with minimal muscle mass.  Having greater lean mass is important to your overall health. Lean mass consists of muscles, bones, organs and connective tissue.

Simply weighing yourself does not give you an indication of your lean mass.  The traditional use of the body mass index (BMI), which relates height to weight, may be a good tool to determine if you are in a healthy BMI category, but it does not differentiate between lean tissue and fat.  (Calculate BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiplying that by 703.  Example: a 5'7" (67inches) person of 220lbs --> 220/4,489 x 703 = 34.45 BMI.)  In general , a BMI of 25-35  is considered overweight or obese, and is used as an indicator for risk factors of certain diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.  However, based on this formula, an extremely muscular person may fall into an overweight category because the percentage of lean mass is not taken into consideration, and if they attempted to lose weight, they would likely loss lean muscle mass.  By the same token, a thin person with under-developed muscles may fall within a healthy BMI range, but a body fat analysis may reveal that they are over-fat, requiring more protein and exercise to replace fat with  muscle.

Studies have shown that, unfortunately, as we age, our body composition changes, such that at age 20, an individual who weighs 160lbs and has 16 lbs of fat (10.3%) and 144 lbs of lean mass would have 40 lbs of fat (25%) and 120 lbs of everything else if they remained 160 lbs.  Muscle loss and fat gain can be modified depending on lifestyle, with the obvious factors of proper diet (nutrition) and exercise; therefore, individuals well above 50 can still build muscle mass and correct the balance.  The simple reason fad diets don't work? If someone goes on the diet and doesn't exercise, they lose muscle tissue as well as fat; then they go off the diet and gain back more fat than they lost, and end up worse than before they started the diet when it comes to body composition.

Oftentimes, when someone starts an exercise program, they become discouraged because their weight is not changing much.  Body composition at the start and periodically thereafter would provide a better gauge as to whether their exercise regimen is working for them.

So what is the ideal body fat percentage?  While this is variable depending on age, sex, heredity,and even sport (swimmers perform better with higher body fat than runners, for example), there are some general guidelines.  For men age 20-30, 9-15% body fat is considered good; from age 30-50, 11-17% is good; age 50+, 12-19% is appropriate.  For women, up to age 30 14-21% is good; age 30-50, 15-23% is good; and age 50+, 16-25% is appropriate.  Keep  in mind that a certain amount of fat is necessary for health and body function, and, particularly for women, falling below the low ranges listed is potentially harmful.

If you have questions about your body composition, simple devices such as calipers can be used to take a few quick, painless skinfold measurements to calculate your percentage of body fat vs lean mass.  Simply ask our knowledgeable trainers!  Click here to learn more about Chris


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