The fit, the fat and the skinny fat
I’m sure we all have the friend that eats whatever he wants, never exercises and looks like he doesn’t gain an ounce. Reality check! This friend may be as fat as the guy who you know is overweight from the way he looks! I’m sure you’re wondering how can that be. Let’s take a closer look.
The truth behind “being fat”
While we all try to stay in shape for aesthetic reasons, we often miss the main reason, which is staying healthy, living longer and being without disease. Some of the most common and deadly diseases are linked to obesity and being fat such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancers. Obesity is defined as an excess accumulation of body fat and has been indeed established as a definite risk factor for the above chronic diseases.
Being obese a bit more than just being the apparent “fat”.
BMI ( body mass index) is a simple parameter has been used as a gold standard to define obesity. It is simply body weight over height, nothing more nothing less. It has no regards to body fat, muscle or anything else. A BMI of higher than 25 is considered overweight and that over 30 is obese. While sometimes this is highly correlated to body fatness, it is not always the case, which leads us to misclassify some people that may be at an unobvious risk or vice versa.
Body fatness ( BF%) and not total weight/ BMI is key here.
Our weight is a total of body fat, muscles, bones , water and other minerals. Our weight is not always a direct translation for “ body fatness or BF%”. Studies have shown that body fat % ( BF %) is the number 1 determinant of diabetes and prediabetes regardless of the BMI. This makes BMI an inaccurate measure of risk and can sometimes overestimate or underestimate the risk someone may have. Understanding the different population may give us a clearer idea on where we fall and what we can do avoiding jeopardizing our health further if needed.
- High BMI – Low body fat- high muscle mass: Those are your fit people who exercise and most probably have a healthy and balanced diet. The combination of low body fat and high muscle mass is the perfect equation for decreasing the risk of diseases and a better chance of longevity.
- Low or Normal BMI– high body fat- low muscle: Those are what I call Skinny fat who look slim on the outside but are fat on the inside. They usually don’t exercise and have an imbalanced diet, This category has the same high risk of diseases as the apparently obese or fat category.
- High BMI- high body fat: Those are the population who look fat , are inactive and have an imbalanced diet. They are at high risk of disease
- The normal BMI and normal body fat: Those are ones who have a fairly active lifestyle and a balanced diet. They are at low risk for diseases.
What should I do
- Check your body composition. This includes body weight, body fat percentage and muscle mass. There are many ways to measure body fat %. Ask your doctor, check a nutrition center or even some local gyms. Some nutrition stores may also have the inbody machine, which is very easy to use. Get it done ASAP!
- Focus on a balanced diet. Eat your lean proteins, vegetables and good starchy carbs while controlling your portions and calories. Remember, if you can eat whatever you want and are still able to maintain a “healthy weight” doesn’t mean you are not at risk.
- Stay active. Diet is important but to build muscle mass and improve your outcomes, consistent resistance training and cardio training is key.
- Follow up every 3 months. Check your numbers, don’t worry too much on your total weight especially if you are active. Let a within normal body fat mass be your goal rather than the number on the scale.
Next time you see your friend who eats whatever he wants , is inactive and is proud of his normal weight, Ask him “ BUT HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR BODY FAT”?
Remember, Be healthy , Be wise!