When you’re serious about LOSING FAT, the most important thing to consider is not your total body weight but rather what makes up that weight. This is referred to as your “body composition”.
Your body composition is a combination of your lean body mass (LBM) (skin, bones, hair, organs, muscle, and water) and your body fat (BF). Your own ideal weight is the weight at which your lean mass and fat mass are combined in the correct proportion for health, wellness, and aesthetics. When you are in shape, you have a proportionally higher amount of lean body weight and a lower amount of body fat, regardless of what you weigh.
Body composition analysis is an important consideration when evaluating health and risk factors, and is essential when you follow a weight-reduction program. Too much fat not only alters your appearance, but it also puts additional strain on your joints and increases your risk for other health problems. Too little fat isn’t good either; it may mean your body isn’t functioning at its full potential.
Traditional weight scales can’t differentiate between how many pounds of lean mass or fat are on your body (percent fat). The best way to identify your percent fat and your personal correct weight is to measure your body composition. Also, if you have a specific “dream” weight, taking your body composition measurements will determine whether that goal is attainable, or whether it’s an unrealistic fantasy.
What is cellulite anyway?
We all seem to know what body fat is, and we’re well aware of its presence on our own bodies, but there are some misconceptions about that “ugly” cottage cheese-like stuff that lies just under our skin, constantly embarrassing us. We seem to think it’s a “special” fat; however, a little education on the subject can clear up some of the mystery behind what cellulite is and what it is not. Basically cellulite is a collection of fat that is pushed against the connective tissue beneath our skin. The uneven distribution is what causes the surface of the skin to dimple. There are many reasons why some women have more visible cellulite than others: genetics, gender, age, skin thickness, and the amount of fat you carry on your body (as well as where you carry it) are all factors. But there is nothing special about cellulite and there are no secret lotions that will get rid of it. By reducing your overall level of body fat, your cellulite will either melt away or fade to a tolerable level. The lower your body-fat level, the less cellulite you will have.
What about the location of my fat?
Generally, women tend to carry fat on the hips, thighs, buttocks, and even around the abdominal area, while men store fat in the torso, often around the stomach. Genetics, gender, age, and ethnicity all play a role in where your body stores its fat.
What is a good body fat percentage for a woman?
The range of body fat considered healthy & fit for women is 12-22%. Research has proven that a body-fat level higher than this increases risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Your attainable goal, or correct weight, should fall in that range, close to 20%. Unfortunately, the average American woman has a body fat percentage of over 33%, which is not healthy and is considered obese.
How is my age related to my body fat level?
Body composition is an age-dependent variable because as we age, there is a natural loss of muscle mass and water, with a corresponding increase in body fat. This change greatly depends on an individual’s lifestyle and nutritional habits. The more physically active you are, the greater the percentage of lean body mass you will maintain, and the less fat you will develop compared to a more sedentary person—no matter what your age is!
What about water weight?
Body composition is a study of water, fat, and lean body mass. All of these factors must be considered when conducting a proper body composition analysis. A woman’s body is made up of approximately 60% water. Since adipose (fat) tissue essentially contains no water, the percentage of water for an obese individual is significantly lower than that of a non-obese individual. Altering the ratio of lean tissue to fat tissue is as simple as engaging in exercise and proper nutritional habits.
What about losing weight fast?
Diets that promise incredible weight loss in a matter of days or even weeks may sound good when you’re thinking about stepping on the scale, but the claims are misleading. In fact, initial weight loss is mostly water. This is because these types of diets are usually low in calories and carbohydrates, resulting in rapid water and glycogen loss. These type of diets will eventually lead to loss in muscle mass rather than fat loss, which will result in a slower metabolism.
How does exercise contribute to body fat loss? It is well-known that exercise burns calories, but it also keeps your metabolic rate at an increased level for hours afterward. Strength training makes you look firmer and results in an increase of lean body mass, which increases your metabolic rate. Cardiovascular conditioning is great for your heart and lungs, and it burns calories and fat, though it’s not as effective as strength training is in the development of lean body mass. The key to getting leaner is to incorporate both cardio and strength training into your exercise routine.
In fact, in order to reap all of the best benefits exercise has to offer—
you should incorporate all of the following components to your routine:
Can I spot-reduce fat?
"NO NO NO–you can’t spot-reduce fat!”
This is a common misconception. Exercise will firm the muscles under a layer of fat but it will not lead to fat reduction in a particular area. Fat storage is systematic, and its introduction to or reduction from the body is different for each person, as is the area in which each individual stores fat on her body. Because of this, two women may both have 20% body fat, but the shapes of their bodies may be completely different based on where the majority of each woman’s fat is stored. This is all due to the degree of variability between individuals—it’s what makes us unique.
"We can’t control where body fat is stored or how it will come off of our bodies, but we can control how much body fat we have!”
If your goal is to see your abdominal muscles, reduce cellulite, decrease your waist or hip size, or reduce the “jiggle” on your triceps, you will need to reduce your overall body fat percentage to a level low enough that your body will respond. Doing extra crunches, leg exercises, or tricep kickbacks does NOT reduce body fat in those specific areas—it only tones the muscle under your subcutaneous fat. Your goal of fat loss can only be reached by a complete fat-loss system of proper diet and exercise that will reduce your overall body fat level.
Why do I need to test my body fat periodically?
Knowing your percentage of body fat – and reassessing it periodically – is very useful in gauging progress during an exercise and weight-loss program. It will help guarantee that you are losing fat and gaining muscle. Even if the number on the weight scale doesn’t budge, body fat levels will increase over the years when people remain sedentary. So as you age, keeping track of body fat can inspire you to exercise to maintain a healthy ratio of muscle to fat.
How do I get an accurate body fat reading?
There are quite a few methods for measuring body composition, each with its own margin of error, advantages, and disadvantages, as well as special devices, attire, restrictions, and costs.
#1 Underwater Weighing (or Hydrostatic Weighing)
#2 Skin Fold Measurements
#3 Bioelectrical Impedance
#4 Bod Pod (Air Displacement)
#5 Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)
How does your body fat compare?
Check your numbers against the standards:
American Council on Exercise
Classification Women (% fat)
Obese 32% +
"GET YOUR BODY FAT TESTED–knowing where you are will help you set realistic goals on where you want to go and how long it will take!"