The term ‘body fat’ is a familiar one. However, most people associate this word to obesity, cholesterol and an unhealthy constitution. Although excess body fat content can have severe implications, the body requires a specific content of body fat for various metabolic and structural functions.
What is body fat?
The term body fat refers to the excess fat stored by the body. Basically body fat is a store of energy that has not yet been utilized by the body; body fat is created when one ingests a greater amount of calories than that which is required to carry out the day to day functions of the body. The excess calories are stored as fat throughout the body and is classified as both essential body fat and nonessential body fat.
Essential body fat is required by the body to function properly; it is responsible for the regulation of body temperature, optimal functioning and cushioning of the internal organs and also as an emergency source of energy during illness.
Body fat is produced in the body through the absorption of fats present in the food consumed. As the body breaks down these fats, two byproducts are released into the body – glycerol and fatty acids. The liver processes glycerol into glucose and stores it as a stock of energy. Fatty acids provide energy for all major tissues, especially for the cardiac muscles and the skeletal muscles. So, it is very important to include appropriate amounts of fatty substances in the diet.
Here are a few major functions of body fats:
– Body fats help to maintain healthy skin and hair.
– To maintain the right body temperature, it is essential to have adequate body fat.
– Body fats are the storehouses of energy in the body.
– Body fats are necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of cells.
– Body fats have a cushioning effect on organs and tissues.
– Body fats act as a shock absorber for bones.
– The body will not be able to absorb many vital vitamins like A, E, D and K unless they are able to combine with fats.
– Body fats are also believed to act as immunity boosters to protect the body from ailments.
Too Much Body Fat – Why Is It Undesirable?
Although the body cannot function smoothly without body fat, it is also important to remember that too much of body fat can negatively affect the body. Very often, the fats absorbed by the body do not burn off but get stored in the body.
Such accumulation of body fats may lead to obesity that can then set off many other health issues like breathing difficulties, arthritis and heart disease.
To prevent problems associated with too much body fat, one must be aware of the current body fat percentage in the body and the ideal percentage required. According to the American Council on Exercise, body fat must ideally constitute 14 – 17 percentage of the total weight of a man. In the case of women, body fat must be around 21 – 24 percentage of total weight.
Knowing the exact fat percentage in your body can help in setting realistic weight loss plans. With the various fat measurement techniques available today, it is very easy to keep track of the body fat and adopt steps to a healthy lifestyle. Some of the most popular fat measurement methods are Body Fat Scales, Navy Method, Hydrostatic Weighing and Skinfold Calipers.
How Does Body Fat Loss Differ From Weight Loss?
Body fat loss and weight loss are two completely different concepts. Consider an instance of two individuals belonging to the same age group – an athletically built person and a normal person. Due to the extra weight of muscles, the athletic person may weigh more than his counterpart. However, the second person’s weight may be related to a higher content of body fat. Obviously, this person will be more vulnerable to weight-related issues than the athletic person. Therefore, it is important to lose body fat rather than trying to lose body weight. With new methods that measure body fat percentage, you can get an accurate report of your body fat and the amount you must lose or gain to remain fit and healthy.
When trying weight loss plans to lose body fat, it is best to adopt a plan that combines a good exercise regimen with a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a minimum of processed carbohydrates. You should keep the body fat levels to the ideal percentage and enjoy more health and happiness in your life.