For some people, body fat is a topic of humor while for others it is an obsession but whichever way you look at it, the whole issue of body fat seems to interest almost everybody. Although fat is part of everybody’s anatomy, it takes on a higher level of significance to some people than others. So, what is body fat, why do we have it and how does it affect our bodies, both positively and negatively.
What is Body Fat
Body fat is nothing more than extremely loose tissue made up of adiposities, and it is a connective tissue.
Body fat’s main role is to store energy as well as to cushion and insulate the body. In humans and mammals, there are two main types of fat. One is white adipose tissue and the other is brown adipose tissue. Fatty tissue is usually located beneath the skin, but fat can also surround internal organs to provide adequate padding.
The resourcefulness of body fat is exemplified by the fact that it can also provide high levels of nutrients to the body. It is helpful to think of it as an important reserve of nutrients often used by the body.
What is an Optimal Amount of Body Fat
This is the million-dollar question. If you know that you are supposed to have at least some body fat, when is it too much? When have you crossed the line from a healthy level of fat that protects you and gives you energy to a level that is unhealthy and capable of causing great damage to your body?
Most physicians and health experts agree that men ought to have a body fat level lower than 18%. For women, the percent increases to 23%.
If you are above these numbers, though, there is no need to panic.
Unless you are a man with a 35% body fat level or a woman with a 40% body fat level, it is OK to go over the respective norms.
Once the percentages go as high as the thirties, though, you are asking for trouble. The best way to determine your body fat percentage is with a pair of calipers.
How can you measure your own body fat
If you own a body fat scale, you can quickly determine if you have more fat than you need.
This type of scale uses something called the Bio-electrical Impedance method to measure the percentage of body fat. It sounds fancy, but here is what happens.
A very low-level current passes through your body. Your body’s opposition to the current determines what percentage of fat your body has. This information combines with information regarding your weight and additional factors to calculate your overall body fat percentage.
Unfortunately, though, your impedance level can be swayed by the amount of water you drink or your body’s temperature. Not eating or drinking for 4 hours before your test will help solve this problem.
Do genetics play a role in a person’s body fat level
Unfortunately, those who struggle to keep off high levels of body fat are sometimes genetically inclined to do so. Research has shown a definitive correlation between cases of excess body fat and family members who share the same problem. The simple truth is that if your parents or grandparents were obese or even larger than they should have been, you are more likely to have issues regarding fat.
Even more surprisingly, appetite seems to be genetically determined. What we eat and how much we eat is often similar to the diets of our family members.
One additional factor affected by genetics is the body’s ability to metabolize food. This affects how our body responds to fatty foods. While it is true that genetics matter, they should not be an excuse for neglecting responsibility when it comes to one’s health.
Will fitness and exercise help decrease body fat
One of the most appealing aspects of continual fitness is that it helps burn fat. Quite simply, physical fitness is your greatest ally and the best way to lose body fat.
The formula is one that you have heard before, yet it remains difficult to live by. Burn more calories than you consume and you will decrease your body fat. It really is that simple.
Some diets try to persuade you to just lessen your caloric intake, but this is hardly enough. You stand a much better chance of maintaining a healthy amount of calories – and hence, body fat – if you aim to burn more calories than you ingest.
Exercise is paramount to caloric reduction. Sometimes the mind is willing but the body isn’t and finding the will and the way to do it is difficult, but you can do it.