Ever woken up one day, looked at yourself in the mirror and said,
“Hmm, I could do without this flabby (insert body part).”
Raise your hand if you’ve thought this way about your body at least once. I know I have.
Most of us are pretty guilty about neglecting certain areas in our body, and while there are valid excuses for allowing something like this to happen (busy lifestyle, money issues, work), there’s no harm in trying to understand how our bodies can store something we essentially don’t need (do we really need fat?) and what we can do about it.
Should I Worry About Body Fat Content?
Well, it depends, but technically you shouldn’t.
There has always been a negative connotation whenever “fat” is mentioned. A lot of people tend to forget that our bodies NEED fat. Our bodies store two types of fat – essential body fat and storage fat. Essential body fat is crucial to our body as it supports life and reproductive functions. Women need more essential body fat than men because of childbirth and hormonal requirements. Storage fat can be found in adipose tissue, particularly in the chest and abdomen, to protect our internal organs.
Depending on your gender and age, body fat content (of the storage type), varies across the board. There have been tools to help determine whether your body fat is within a range deemed healthy — for example, the use of calipers and bioelectrical impedance analysis — and their pretty effective and accurate in measuring body fat content. Another, more common tool is the BMI calculator. There have been many calculators popping up in the web these past several years so trying it out should be easy peasy. While a BMI calculator can give you an IDEA of how much body fat you may have (as answers are based on averages), this isn’t a good indicator of how healthy an individual is.
Let’s go back to my answer: I said that it depends if body fat should be a huge concern for you. Unless you’re an athlete, a body builder, or have been diagnosed by a medical practitioner that you are suffering from obesity, then body fat shouldn’t be your main concern at this moment.
Low Body Fat: Good or Bad?
Having low body fat content may sound like a dream, it’s not all that cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why:
- Quit Playing Games with Your Heart – your cardiovascular health is at risk if your body fat content is too low. Not only will your heart beat at a much lower rate, you also risk passing out, getting dizzy, and cardiac arrest. Who wants to go because of low body fat content?
- Low Energy Levels – as I have previously mentioned, our bodies need fat. Having little body fat content means you are starving your body of energy. You’ll be fatigued, and no one can really function properly when they’re like that.
- Brrr, It’s Cold – Body fat acts as an insulator and helps maintain overall body temperature. Think of it as a jumper your internal organs need. Without a jumper, you’d be freezing cold.
- Bye, Baby – Low body fat content leads to low testosterone levels, which in turn leads to a lower sperm count and having trouble getting Junior to wake up. When your body can sense that it has too little fat, it basically goes in survival mode and knows that it can’t function well enough to reproduce. So if you’re trying to have a baby with your partner, the odds of hearing the pitter patter of little feet is pretty low.
- Are You Sick Yet? – Cortisol, or the stress hormone, is said to be elevated when body fat content is low. Linking cortisol to a weakened immune system has been a hot topic in recent years, so contracting a bacterial or viral infection might just be in the cards when your body has too little fat.
How do I Lose Fat and Not Muscle Mass?
Ahh, yes. A question worth answering.
Many people tend to think that when they lose weight, they’re also losing fat. I know I did. Whenever I’d check if the scale has changed, I’d be elated to see it move towards a lower number. I was obviously losing weight, so that means I was also losing all those accumulated blubber from binge eating and having a sedentary lifestyle.
I wasn’t entirely right.
As in every health regimen, it’s actually food that helps us lose and gain weight (read more about calories here). It’s the stuff that we shove in our mouths that really dictate how much weight our bodies should be expelling or keeping.
So, to keep my answer short, you may actually be losing muscle mass rather than fat. It all depends on the activity you do and the food you eat.
Exercises That Affects Body Fat Content
Here are a few exercises you can add to your workout that may lower body fat content:
Jumping rope is an effective body fat melter. With just a rope, you’re priming yourself for a total body workout and the potential to lose body fat. Begin by perfecting your form for short periods, around two minutes at most. Keep your arms to the side and your wrists steady, rotating the ropes by doing a spinning motion. Jump off high enough just to clear the rope. Upon landing, make sure to use the balls of your feet to cushion your fall, ready to spring up again.
Squats have long been lauded for their many health benefits, including of course a tighter, rounder behind. But there is a variation that claims to be the mother load of squats as it promises to melt body fat.
Enter: the Goblet Squat.
You’ll be needing a dumbbell or a kettlebell, depending on the intensity you’re going for. The added weight while doing a squat is a surefire way to intensify your workout.
Bear crawls are pretty an all-in-one body workout. It’s a pretty simple exercise, but with the proper form, expect massive body fat loss.
Bear crawls have been known to improve breathing mechanics and rib and pelvic positioning. It strengthens your core, wrists and hands, even stabilise your shoulders. Because your whole body is working, different muscle groups are in it for the burn.
You begin by being on all fours and then moving forward or sideways. It won’t feel taxing at first but believe me it will.
Your fat will be shrieking, “I’m melting! I’m melting!” in no time.
As with any routine, make sure to consult a professional first before attempting anything to reduce the risk of injury. Our trainers at Rec Xpress can assist you and even give you a more personal workout suited to your lifestyle.
F. A. T. — Fitness, Assess, Tackle
The road to a healthy, fit body is a long one, and one that has no end in sight. It’s important to be able to maintain a certain level of activity, one that fits into your current lifestyle, for you to be able to enjoy any of its benefits.
Body fat may be a controversial topic to some, but having a mindset that focuses on fitness (rather than just plainly losing weight) is an awesome way to look into the matter.
Remember to assess your body before attempting anything at the gym. If body fat is a concern, book an appointment with your medical practitioner to be able to get a clear picture of what state your body is at the moment.
Next, learn how to tackle any hurdles that may come your way. Losing body fat is no easy feat. It won’t be a walk in the park, and there will be challenges and roadblocks ahead.
You can count on us at Rec Xpress to be your ally in helping you pave the way to your fitness goals. Our trainers have been selected to give clients a fitness program tailored fit to your needs and lifestyle.