One of the common components our bodies are made up of is body fat. Just like our organs, body fat is needed for us to function normally. Fat is basically a compound called glycerol made up of fatty acids. Its main function is to act as storage for the body’s extra calories for stored energy. In cases where energy is exhausted from used-up carbohydrates, the body will get its energy from its energy storage – body fat. The fat cells, called adipose tissue, store these fatty acids that fill up the cells, found mostly under the skin. Fat cells or adipose tissue is filled up by the fatty substance that helps insulate the body.
There are two types of body fat – storage fat and essential fat. Storage fat protects the internal organs in our body. Both men and women have the same levels of storage fat. It increases when we gain weight and is what we target when we try to lose weight. However, too much or too little storage fat can be dangerous. Essential fat, however, is the necessary fat – hence the name – for the body to work. Stored in minute amounts, women have more essential fat percentage than men, as it includes gender-specific fat in the hips, breasts, and thighs.
Ways How to Measure Body Fat
Honest Personal Assessment
We can measure body fat percentage – the amount of fat in the body – through different ways. Computing our body fat percentage doesn’t need to be complex or involve calculations. In fact, one method in calculating body fat percentage is by merely taking a look. With the accurate pictures and a mirror, you can easily figure out the amount of body fat in you.
The bathroom scale is the most common way of measuring weight, but when it comes to measuring the body fat percentage, it’s the most unreliable. There are times that you may lose inches but your body weight is still the same. This means that fat is being turned into muscle. The best way to check your progress in losing weight using the bathroom scale is to avoid stepping on the scale every day, and try to measure weight once- a- week instead. Body weight fluctuates on a daily basis and is affected by several factors, such as sodium intake and water retention, hormonal imbalances, and the time of day. Make sure that you weigh yourself at the same time every week to get the most accurate weight measurement.
Measuring the Body Mass Index – BMI
Body Mass Index is the measurement of weight and height, calculating these two factors to come up with a score. This score determines the body fat percentage in your overall weight.
Here is the formula: Measure your height and weight. Divide your height in kilograms by your weight in pounds (squared) and you’ll get a percentage. This is supposed to be the fat percentage. If your score is less than 18.5 percent, you are underweight. Anything more than 29.9 percent is considered obese. A normal BMI is within the range of 18.5 up to 24.5 percent. If you reached 24.5 to 29.9 percent, it’s time to pick up on the daily exercise and time to plan your diet, for you are already considered to be overweight.
Another way of measuring body fat is the body fat scale. The body fat scale is similar to the bathroom scale, though it adds another feature called the bioelectrical impedance analysis. How does it measure body fat percentage? It uses a very small, harmless electrical current that passes through body tissues. It is slower when it passes through fat tissues and faster in muscles and other tissues. It gets a reading and automatically calculates body fat percentage using its own formula. The body fat scale, like the bathroom scale, is not very accurate as it is also affected by clothing, time of day, water retention, and food intake.
The US Navy Calculator and the YMCA Body fat calculator can also be used to measure your body fat. Body monitors and scales can also be used. It sends electric currents through your body to determine the amount of body fat. Be warned, though, as they can be inaccurate by taking into account the amount of water you have in your body.
If you want to lower your body fat percentage after seeing the measurement results, you should know what the difference between losing weight, and losing the actual fat.
Importance of Losing Body fat When Overweight
Weight loss means reducing your body mass. Fat loss means reducing the body fat in your body. Body fat, though needed, shortens lifespan. Not only that, it reduces stamina and endurance, and weakens you in terms of strength and motor skills – as well as the immune system. That being said, it makes you vulnerable to diseases.
So how do we lose body fat? The best way is to limit our calorie intake and be as active as possible. Limiting our calorie intake would make us lose body fat and lean mass, but we optimize the amount of fat to the amount of muscle we lose if we combine exercise. Lift things, go to the gym daily or exercise at home and eat healthy.
In losing body fat, we not only improve our health and prevent ourselves from disease but enhance our mental state as well. Losing body fat can increase self-esteem and decrease anxiety and stress.