A lean, well-toned figure is something that most of us aspire to – and the ideal of a youthful body shape motivates many of us to go to the gym, sign up for fitness classes, and keep an eye on our diets. But body composition and body shape are about more than just looking good: they are also closely related to our health. With optimal body composition, including a high ratio of lean body mass to fat, you minimize your risk of developing diseases that are related to obesity and how your body fat is distributed.
Your weight is composed of two separate elements: fat and lean body mass (muscle, bone, organs, and fluids). Generally speaking, the quality of your weight (what proportion of your weight is fat or “percent body fat”) is more significant to your health than the quantity of your weight (total pounds).
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is widely used to assess the increased risk of weight-related conditions, based on a ratio of weight to height. However, appearances can be deceptive when it comes to estimating body fat percentage. Heavily muscled people, like football players, can be overweight according to the BMI table without being over fat. On the other hand, some people who appear to be lean and are of normal weight according to the chart can be qualitatively measured as over fat.
The ordinary scale cannot differentiate between fat pounds and muscle pounds. What tells the tale then is not total weight, but body composition. A piece of good equipment to test body composition is a body composition analysis machine-like Visbody R, which is the #1 3D body scanner that applies the IBS and BIA technologies in the world.
There are no universally accepted norms for body composition. The ideal amount of body fat varies with each individual depending on age, gender, fitness level and genetic profile. A range of 10-22% body fat for men and 20-32% for women is considered satisfactory for health.
The distribution of fat on your body depends on your total amount of body fat and your genes. Are you an apple or a pear? Studies show that a large waist circumference (apple) signals a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than ample hips and thighs (pear). The deep abdominal fat packed around the vital organs is metabolically very active, allowing fatty acids to move easily into and out of the cells. Once stored in the liver, they can interfere with its ability to regulate glucose and insulin levels, contributing to high cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels. A waist measurement of 35 inches (89 cm) or more is considered a risk factor for women, 41 inches (104 cm) for men.
Research shows that exercise reduces the size of fat cells in the belly more effectively than dieting alone. It also prevents fat from being stored in the organs and muscles. Weight loss from exercise is primarily fat loss. As you exercise regularly, you will reduce fat stores from the whole body, and you will develop leaner, toned muscles instead. The gain in lean muscle tissue and loss of excess fat will result in trimmer contours and smaller circumferences regardless of the number of pounds lost.