Body fat is also known as adipose tissue. Body fat comes from the excess calories that we consume through our diets. Your body will store the extra calories as fat to be used as a source of energy later on. It does not make a difference where the sources of calories come from. Calories from carbohydrates, fats, protein, and even alcohol, all can be turned into fat. Your body will store the extra calories as fat to be used as a source of energy later on.
You have two different types of body fat
Essential Body Fat
We all have a certain percentage of essential body fat. Men carry approximately 3-4% body fat, while women carry approximately 10-12% body fat. Women carry more essential body fat than men, because of their hormones and reproductive system.
It is important for your body to carry a certain amount of essential body fat in order for it to function properly. This type of fat can be found surrounding your body’s vital organs as a layer of protection. It is also stored in the body’s organs, intestines, muscles and other tissues.
Storage Body Fat
Storage body fat is the type of fat that can be associated with love handles and flabby bellies. This is the type of fat that we need to lose. It is linked with all kinds of health risks like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
When we consume too much food are body will automatically store the extra calories as fat to be used as a source of energy at a later time as part of its survival mechanism. The problem is that if we continue to over eat we accumulate an excess storage of fat. This is why it is so important that we consume the right size food portions and remain active in order to use up the left over calories.
We all have a certain amount of fat cells in our bodies that we are genetically given at birth. These cells shrink and expand as your body fat is either stored or used as a source of energy. The more fat that your body stores the larger your fat cells will expand.
Fat is stored primarily in two categories: Subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the type of fat located just underneath the skin, think flab. Visceral fat is the fat that is stored surrounding the body’s internal organs. Excess visceral fat is the most dangerous fat because of it puts you at a high risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Measuring Body Fat Percentages
Body Fat can be measured in a few different ways. The two most common ways to measure body fat percentages are; Skin Fold measurements and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. These two methods are easy and cost effective.
Skin fold measurements are done by using calipers to measure pinches of subcutaneous body fat, taken from a series of points on the body. These measurements are then converted into body fat percentages by using a mathematical formula.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis measures body fat percentages by sending a small electrical current through the body and recording the amount of time it takes for the signal to pass through the body.
The following chart from the American Council on Exercise puts body fat percentages into categories ranging from obese to athletic.
Once you have your body fat percentage, you can calculate the amount of lean body mass and the amount of fat mass that you have.
(Body weight x Body Fat %) = Fat Mass
(Body weight – Fat mass) = Lean Body mass
Lean body mass is a measurement of muscle and bone structure in the body
Fat Mass is the amount of fat you have on your body.
Why is it important to know what your body fat percentage is?
It is important to know what your body fat percentage is so that you can understand what body fat category that you follow under. This information is important when you begin an exercise program. This information can be valuable for goal setting and as a way of monitoring the progress you’re making with your exercise and nutrition programs.
Whether I am working with my personal training clients, boot camp classes, or online training clients, we always have an initial fitness assessment prior to beginning a new exercise program. During this fitness assessment we will measure body fat, girth measurements, height, weight, and a few other fitness tests.
The reason for this is that these numbers give valuable information that we use for goal setting and exercise program planning. Every 4-6 weeks I will continue to retest my clients as a way of monitoring their progress and motivating them.
If you have not had a fitness assessment done already I strongly recommend asking your doctor or local personal trainer to give you an assessment. This way you can give yourself a starting point to work from.
You can also give yourself an assessment. All you need is a scale, tape measure, and a hand held bioelectrical impedance analysis devise.
Click Here for More information on Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
How to Measure Body Fat Percentage
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