Have you ever wondered why people who went back to “normal” weight due to dieting or weight loss pills still end up with high blood pressure and heart diseases?
And why do people who exercise regularly, run marathons or those generally considered “fit” still look fat?
The reason is high body fat percentage in their overall body composition. In today’s article, we are going to dispel one of the biggest misconceptions of weight loss and tell you how to lose weight safely and quickly by losing the right weight.
The Obsession with Numbers on the Weighing Scale
Many people today just want to lose weight. They don’t care where that weight comes from, whether its water weight, body fat or muscles. As long as they see the numbers on the scale drop, they are happy. These are the same people who don’t believe in muscle building for weight loss. And this group of people would chose the lazy way of weight loss and prefer to pop questionable diet pills or take up weight loss programs that only require them to go on a diet.
Sure, dieting may help you to lose some weight. So when you’ve managed to achieve your “ideal” weight through dieting or pill popping. Do you think you finally look good? But do the numbers on the scale really reflect how healthy you are?
Take a look at the pictures below:
Nicole Ritchie weighs 95lbs and stands at 5′ 2.
Another Nicole (Nicole Wilkins). Height. 5ft 6in. Weight. 130 lbs 9-13% body fat.
Assuming that both of them were equally fat and they went on a weight loss program. If we are basing the success on how much weight was lost, then Nicole Ritchie would be the clear winner. But honestly, whose body would you prefer to have? Who do you think looks more desirable and has that highly sought after beach body? Do you think Nicole Wilkin’s body can be achieved with just dieting and pill popping?
Who do you think has a lower body fat percentage?
In the next section, you will discover why even skinny people can have dangerous hidden body fat.
The Body Fat You Don’t See
I have been working out for over 10 years and I consider myself to be an active person. I lift weights 3 times a week and run once a week. Yet, 7 years ago I was diagnosed with mild hypertension. As you can imagine, this came as an absolute shock to me. I didn’t look overweight. At least I didn’t think so. But one thing is for sure. In spite of my workouts and active lifestyle, I still had excessive body fat.
There are two types of body fat that we all have:
- Subcutaneous fat: These are the types of fat that’s layered beneath our skin. The kind that you need to get rid of if you want your six pack to show or want your legs to be slimmer. You can measure how much subcutaneous fat you have using body fat calipers.
- Visceral fat: Also known as organ fat or intra-abdominal fat, this is a deadlier form of fat that stores itself within your internal organs. Its the fat that you don’t see. This fat produces inflammatory hormones that damage your organs at a cellular level. The only way to measure visceral fat is through MRI.
Visceral fat is the reason why people who lost weight purely through dieting eventually develop type II diabetes, hypertension or heart problems.
While you can lose weight with dieting alone, the only way to get rid of fat is through exercise thats specifically for fat burning.
Yes, You Can Be Fit but Fat
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology examined the health records of 3100 active adults over a period of three years. At the end of the three years, while the majority of them showed increased aerobic fitness, they also gain body fat and revealed signs of heart disease.
This study, along with many others, proves two points:
So heres what we understand so far, we need to exercise to get rid of body fat. But there are people who exercise and are still fat! This includes people who run marathons and lift ridiculous weights at the gym. So what gives?
The reason why people who exercise everyday are still fat is because they are not training specifically for fat burning. Many of them are training to improve fitness. But as the above study shows, fitness does not protect you against having excessive body fat.
Excessive body fat is the primary cause of many health problems from high blood pressure, heart diseases to type II diabetes. If your goal is to find the quickest way to lose weight, your primary emphasis should be fat loss! Not weight loss! That means specifically targeting and reducing the amount of body fat.
The Importance of Understanding Body Composition
Our bodies are made up of muscles, bones, nerve tissue, fat, water, etc. For purposes of fat loss, the two types of body masses we should be concerned with are fat mass and fat free mass.
What is Fat Mass?
Fat mass is a metabolically inactive tissue comprising of essential and storage fat. Essential fatty acids are what our brains, nerves, cell walls, heart tissue and bone marrow require to function properly. Conversely, storage fat is an energy reserve that stores beneath our skin (subcutaneous fat) and within our organs (visceral fat). Storage mass is what we need to strive to eliminate from our bodies. For every pound of fat you have, your body burns only 3 calories a day.
Generally, the ideal body fat percentage for males is 15% (3% essential, 12% storage) and females 26% (15% essential, 11% storage).
What is Fat Free Mass?
Fat free mass, also known as muscle, is a metabolically active tissue that’s made up of largely protein, water and some stored carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. Each pound of fat free mass you have burns up to 50 calories a day.
The former is what we want to get rid of as much as possible. Fat free mass, also known as muscles, is what we want more of in our bodies.
The generally acceptable body fat percentage for males is 15% and females 26%. Anyone planning to lose weight should seek to increase muscle (fat free mass) and reduce body fat (fat mass).
When a person goes on a diet or loses weight through popping diet pills, the weight they lose is generally water, some fat and even some muscle. Weight loss through methods like this is not sustainable and may even set you up to gain more weight in the future because:
- When you diet, your body does not get enough fuel from food and starts to break down muscle for energy.
- Muscles are metabolically active. The less muscle you get, the lower your metabolic rate and the lesser calories you will burn at rest.
- Because of this, even though you lose weight, your body fat percentage stays the same or could even increase. You will end up looking soft, thin and weak.
To get a rough estimation of how much body fat you have, you can check out the link below: http://fitness.bizcalcs.com/Calculator.asp?Calc=Body-Fat-Navy
Remember, this is just a rough estimation. A closer reading of your body fat percentage would have to be done using body fat calipers. But this online calculator should suffice in giving you a rough idea.
How Do We Lose the Right Weight?
If you are still reading this, I assume you are now convinced that losing weight alone is not enough and we should actually lose fat. Below are three golden rules you must follow to reduce body fat, be healthier and feel healthier:
- Focus on expending calories, not fat: You’ve probably read in my previous article that you do not need to exercise for at least 20 minutes in low intensity to lose weight. In order to effectively burn fat, we need to focus on burning overall calories in the workout. To do this, engage in metabolic workouts such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) at 80 – 85% MHR. This will ensure that you burn a higher amount of overall calories even hours after your workout is over.
- Lower your intake of bad cholesterol (LDL): High cholesterol foods clog up our arteries and are linked to the accumulation of visceral fat in our organs. To avoid increasing the amount of visceral fat in our bodies, below is a list of what you should be eating more and less of:
Eat less of this:
- Fried foods or food with trans fats: Fried chicken, potato chips,
- Organ meat: Many organ meats today are loaded with HDL. Particularly in liver, where cholesterol is created and stored, it contains the highest concentration of cholesterol.
- Fast food: No reason needed.
Eat more of this:
- Food high in soluble fiber: Oatmeal, apples, kidney beans, barley
- Omega 3 fatty acids: sardines, salmon, mackerel, flaxseed and canola oil
- Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc (unsalted or not sugar coated)
- Lift weights and build muscle: I cannot emphasise this enough. On days where you are not doing HIIT, adopt resistance training as part of your routine. Concentrate two body parts per workout and 3 sets of between 6-8 reps per exercise. Just like any other workout, ensure that your workouts are progressive and lift heavier weights as your workouts get easier. Nothing ensures a sustained fat loss better than an increased amount of fat free mass in your body. Which Nicole you want to look like depends on whether you have included muscle building in your exercise routine.
(**Note to ladies: If you are afraid that you will become overly muscular from weight lifting, let me reassure you again. You will not be overly muscular because you are not genetically built to be bulky. To look like those female bodybuilders, you need to go on a strict diet, consume muscle enhancing supplements and train like a bodybuilder to achieve that look.)
Remember, it is not enough just to lose weight. To look good and be healthy, you have to ensure that you alter your body composition by reducing your ratio of body fat to muscle.
If you are taking diet pills or adopting a weight loss program today that does not include a metabolic workout routine, I recommend that you check out the 10 Minute Corporate Fat Loss Plan for a complete 5 week fat loss program that is designed specifically to reduce your body fat and build muscles in just 10 minutes a day.