Body Composition and Your Health

October, 3, 2016

     What does the number on the weight scale really mean? In regard to overall health, weight is not nearly as important as the composition of that weight. More important, rather than tracking weight, we should be aware of our body composition. Stepping on a weight scale tells us the combined weight of all our body’s tissues.

    How can you determine your body composition? Body composition can be estimated through various techniques. Common methods of exploring the levels of adiposity include body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI). The results from your body composition assessment can be used to identify risks, personalize your exercise program or evaluate how well your current exercise and nutrition program is working for you.

Body Fat Percentage

    Body Fat Percentage is how much of your body is composed of fat (adipose tissue) and how much of your body is composed of muscle, bone, internal organs, skin, tissue, hair, etc.There are various methods such as Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), Infrared Analysis on the Bicep and Skin Fold Calipers.  One variable that you need to take into consideration is that all of these tests do have a standard of error.

Body Mass Index

   Body mass index or  BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. If your BMI is high, you may have an increased risk of developing certain diseases including: high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and blood lipids (LDL) -Type 2 Diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, female infertility, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)  and urinary stress incontinence. The reason BMI is used for screening the health of the general population is due to the strong correlation between being overweight or obese and having health problems, chronic disease and premature death. 

Types of Fat

    There are two types: subcutaneous and visceral. Visceral fat is more quickly stored and more easily burned. This is because being deeper in the body it has a greater blood supply and is more sensitive to the fat burning catecholamines than in subcutaneous fat. It is located in the abdomen and surrounds your vital organs. It can infiltrate the liver and other organs, streak through your muscles and even strangle your heart; you can have it even if your thin. Visceral fat is linked to everything from bad cholesterol and hypertension to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
    Subcutaneous fat is the type found just underneath the skin, which may cause dimpling and cellulite. The belly fat is stored when the combination of excess calories meets the hormonal influence of cortisol and insulin. This is important to understand because those losing weight and counting calories may find that the fat around their belly seems to burn off at a much slower rate. This is because belly fat is as much a hormonal phenomenon as it is a caloric one.
    Eating a well-balanced diet.... a diet high in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in measured portions sets anyone up to be successful for gradual weight loss. The safe recommended amount is  1-2 pounds per week. Include plenty of sleep, minimal stress and plenty of exercise and you can become healthier person !