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Facts on Fat

  Enhanze Newsletter Oct 2002  
How much is too much body fat ?

It is generally accepted that men should have less than 18% total body fat and women 23% or less, However, experts suggest that an excess is not particularly hazardous to health until an individual accumulates 35% and 40% total body fat respectively. Such levels definitely constitute obesity and potentially, if not most probably, have a detrimental effect on one's health ( Body fat percentage can be determined using a pair of callipers.)

So what is percent body fat?

Percent body fat is the percentage of the total body that is fat. Thus someone who weighs 150 pounds and is 10% fat has 15 pounds of fatty tissue and 135 pounds of other, so called lean tissue.

Where does body fat come from?

Fat is produced by the body when an excess intake of calories in the form of food or drink occurs. When the diet provides the body with more calories than it needs for general maintenance and its current level of physical activity, this excess energy is stored in the form of body fat.

How do I lose excess fat?

Put simply, the removal of excess fat is by a reversal of the bodily processes which store excess energy, if an individual burns more energy than he or she is consuming, the extra energy stored in the body will be removed to be broken down for physical activity.

How does exercise affect body fat?

An increase in regular exercise will help to increase your calorie expenditure. The more physical activity you do, the more calories you will burn. Accordingly, if you increase your physical activity, and do not increase your intake of food, you will draw the extra energy needed from your stored body fat. 

Why do gains in weight always seem to go on the same place?

One's body tends to deposit fat according to your individual genetic code. In other words, hereditary characteristics dictate areas in your body which accumulate fat. If you are a typical female you will accumulate fat around your thighs and hips. Typically males accumulate fat around the midriff and lose it there last.

Can I get fat off from a specific part of the body ?

Unfortunately not, there is no such thing as "spot reduction". If you exercise a particular part of the body, muscle tissue under the fat will become firm and make the overall appearance of that region look better. However, such specific exercise will not reduce the quantity of fat within the area. Thus simply by jogging one will not just reduce the fat around the legs and hips, the fat providing energy for this activity may be coming from the stomach, chin, back etc.

How many calories will it take to lose one pound of fat?

A calorie is a unit of energy, the deficit needed to lose one pound of fat being approximately 4000 calories. This "rule of thumb" may vary considerably depending on the nature of the fat lost, however, for long term weight loss this figure is probably accurate. 

Can I sweat off excess weight in a steam room or sauna? 

Remember you are not trying to lose weight but fat. There is a real difference between the two. Weight could be fat, water or even muscle tissue, whereas fat is fat. The loss of weight through excess sweating as experienced in the sauna/steam room is not fat but water. Such weight returns immediately you consume fluid. Consequently if you lose say two and a half pounds in a session in the steam bath you will replace it with approximately the next two pints of water drunk (one pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter). However and obviously more worrying is that if the fluid loss is replaced by a high calorie drink you may end up gaining fats as a result of your weight loss attempt.

What are Essential Fat & Storage Fat?

The essential fat, required for normal physiological functioning, consists of fat stored in the marrow of bones, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles and lipid rich tissues of the central nervous system. In females the extra 9% of sex specific fat is required for childbearing and other hormonal related functions.

In addition to essential fat deposits, storage fat consists of fat accumulation in adipose tissue. Men and women have similar quantities of storage fat - on average 12% for men and 15% for women.


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