Body Fat

Do' Contrary to widely accepted opinion in established "fitness circles", body fat is neither bad, nor is it undesirable. Excessive body fat is definitely not good as it is very detrimental to your health and well-being, but guess what? So is a body fat percentage that is too low! Body fat serves several useful functions such as, insulation, protection, and, most importantly, every pound of body fat contains 3500 calories held in storage for immediate use, (actually, not all of the calories are useable energy, the act of converting stored fat into usable energy actually uses a percentage of those calories).


It never ceases to amaze me when I see an advertisement claiming how so-and-so has achieved a ridiculously low body fat percentage in the neighborhood of 5 % or some ridiculously low number, and, of course, you can too if only you spend half of your mortgage payment on their special "cocktail" that will melt the body fat away. Now don't get me wrong, I am not advocating an epidemic of Dunlap disease, (that's when your belly Dun-Lapped over your belt!), but think about this, how healthy is it to have virtually no energy in store for when needed ? A bodybuilder with 5 % body fat who misses a meal or two is immediately put into a state of catabolism, which is when your body begins to use muscle protein as fuel, because it has no other alternative, and as far as I am concerned, that aint good!


Most experts say that men should be between 15 % -20 %, and women should be around 18 % -25 % body fat for good health. However, I'm not real big on body fat analysis. For one thing there are so many different methods for testing, they all vary, and none of them can claim to be all that accurate. (CLICK HERE for one method). In my book the best body fat analysis tool is standing in front of a full-length mirror butt-naked, that'll tell the tale!


Another method of determining body composition is the Body Mass Index, or BMI. This method deteremines your ratio of fat/bone/muscle, taking into consideration things like height, and assigns an "index" value. A BMI of 19-25 is considered desirable.

for a PDF file Body Mass Index table


Many people are under the impression that they can slim down a specific area of their body by exercising that area. I'm sorry to burst any bubbles, but it does not work that way. As I said before, body fat is stored fuel. When your body senses a need for some of this fuel, it releases substances into the bloodstream that break down the body fat into a useable form. Regardless of where the fuel is needed, the fat is burned from the easiest and most accessible area, usually the newest deposits. In order to burn body fat from any part of your body, you need to create a caloric deficit, (See Nutrition).


Munchin' out!This is an especially important issue for women. For one thing, women seem to be more effected than men with anorexia. This is a very disturbing result of our society's obsession with physical attractiveness, (it is also strangely contradictory to our society's overweight problem. Go figure!). Seriously, women can encounter severe medical problems when they achieve a very low body fat percentage, including hormonal and menstrual problems, and of course the aforementioned anorexia. Not only that, but since breast tissue is largely fatty, where do you think the first place to be affected is ? Not that I am overly concerned with breast size, which I have been accused of. Personally, a nice set of REAL breasts that happen to be small is much more appealing than the artificially inflated floatation devices plastered so prevalently across all forms of media today! It's kind of hypocritical, in my mind, to push exercise and nutrition and then enhance your boobs with silicone ! If a woman is willing to do that, then who is to say that she did not have liposuction to remove excess body fat? And if that is the case, then all of her exercise and nutrition advice is totally useless!! (Attn: Cory, Kiana, etc...)

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September 11, 2001