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Measuring your bodyfat is the most accurate way of determining health. Most people use a bathroom scale to find out if they need to lose a couple of pounds. But the number the scale gives can be deceiving.
All a scale can give you is your total body weight. In and of itself that means little. Total body weight is composed of bodyfat, lean muscle, and the skeletal system.
A person can be skinny--a lightweight--and at the same time, very unhealthy. For example, a man who weighs 160 pounds but has 21% bodyfat is unhealthy. But a man who weighs 160 pounds with 13% bodyfat is very healthy.
It is the amount of lean body weight which determines health. The average American is overweight (66%), and of that number, 33% are obese. This means that their bodyfat is too high in comparison to their lean body weight.
There are many ways of finding out your bodyfat percentage: hydrostatic (underwater or immersion), skin calipers, electrical impedance, and taking key body part measurements with a tape measure, and plugging the results into a formula.
The gold standard and most accurate of all methods is hydrostatic weighing. This is based on the principle that since muscle is denser than fat, it will tend to sink in water. Underwater weighing is very expensive and not accessible to the general public.
Using skin fold calipers to compute bodyfat is popular. Fat within the skin is measured in several key parts such as the back of the upper arm and the waist. The results are then plugged into a formula. Though not as accurate as hydrostatic weighing, it is inexpensive. One downside is that a person needs to fairly skilled in the use of calipers.
Electrical impedance is the principle used in electronic scales and hand held devices. This is based on the fact that muscle contains more water than fat, and it conducts electricity easily.
The final and cheapest method to find out your bodyfat levels is to use a tape measure. Waist, thigh, forearm (with clenched fist), hip, calf, and wrist measurements are taken. Together with your gender (male or female) and age, a fairly accurate fat percentage can be calculated.
The margin of error of this method is fairly small. For instance, if your measurement was 17%, your true percentage can be anywhere from 15% to 19%.
This method along with electrical impedance can give inaccurate results for the highly fit (like a bodybuilder) and the skinny but unfit person. For the very fit, the percentage will be 3 to 5% higher than calculated; for the skinny and unfit, it will be 3 to 5% lower than calculated.
The method used here is taking key bodypart measurements with a cloth tape measure. These numbers, along with age and gender, are then plugged into a formula.
Following is a table of fat percentages by race and gender. Race is a factor because the bones of African-Americans tend to be more dense than those of Asians or Caucasians. One the other hand, the bones of Asians are light and porous.
|Top Athletes||3 - 12%||10 - 18%|
OK, you now have your bodyfat percentage. But what exactly does it mean? Let's suppose that your weight is 180 pounds and your calculated body fat is 18%. First convert 18% to a decimal. It becomes 0.18.
Multiply 0.18 by your weight. 0.18 * 180 pounds= 32.4 pounds. That means 32.4 pounds of your total weight of 180 pounds is pure fat. Your lean body mass is 180 pounds (total body weight) minus 32.4 pounds (fat), or 147.6 pounds.
The Bodyfat That You Can't See Can Hurt You
The body fat that can be seen and felt is known as subcutaneous fat. This fat lies just beneath the skin. 'Love handles' on men and the 'jiggly' fat located on the back of the upper arms of some women are examples of subcutaneous fat.
A new study has shown that subcutaneous fat may prove beneficial because it offers protection against diabetes.
Abdominal or visceral fat (some have even labeled it 'toxic' fat) is worse than fat in other areas of the body. This fat is found deep in the abdomen. Fat cells located in the abdomen are metabolically active. Abdominal fat can negatively affect the liver by affecting its ability to manage cholesterol. Visceral fat makes insulin less effective. This increases the risk for diabetes; it also releases fatty acids which can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke and certain cancers.
New research has come out from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showing that fat cells deep inside the abdomen (visceral fat) secrete molecules that increase inflammation. In 2004 researchers at this same university discovered that surgically removing abdominal fat through liposuction does not provide the metabolic benefits associated with the same amount of fat loss through dieting or exercise.
Samuel Klein, MD, Danforth professor of medicine and nutritional science and senior investigator in both studies said this, "despite removing large amounts of subcutaneous fat from beneath the skin-about 20 percent of a person's total body mass-there were no beneficial medical effects." (Read...)
The only effective way to reduce visceral and subcutaneous fat is through nutrition and exercise. Quick fixes such as liposuction surgery is useless. Weight training is absolutely necessary when you reach your fortieth birthday. That's the age when the body begins to lose muscle, and accumulate fat. Lifting weights will reverse that natural progression. More...
A Canadian research team has found that abdominal fat tissue makes a hormone known as NPY (Neuropeptide Y) which prompts the development of cells that change into fat. High levels of this hormone in the brain produce never ending feelings of hunger.
"This may lead to a vicious cycle where NPY produced in the brain causes you to eat more and therefore gain more fat around your middle--and then that fat produces more NYP hormone which leads to even more fat cells," said Dr. Kaiping Yang, lead researcher.
Waist size is a better predictor of heart attacks than body weight.
I was born in the year 1951 and grew up in the 1960s, a couple of decades before Time magazine published an article entitled 'Hold the Eggs and Butter'. The cover of the March, 1984 issue had a representation of a sad human face made of egg whites with yolks for eyes and bacon for the mouth. It read 'Cholesterol' in large letters, 'And Now the Bad News'...
The essence of the message from this prestigious magazine was that cholesterol in the form of saturated fat from red meat and whole eggs was bad for you. It helped usher in the low-fat diet craze.
But before the media 'saturated' (pun intended) America with horror stories about steak and eggs causing clogged arteries and heart disease, we were content to eat red meat to our heart's content along with whole eggs and milk, butter, and lard.
Amazingly, we didn't have an obesity epidemic such as we have today.
But, like most other Americans, I believed what mainstream media was publicizing through print and television news stories. Of course this "breakthrough" news was published by the elite in white - the powerful medical establishment.
And, like most Americans, I was hoodwinked, blindsided, bamboozled, misled, duped, tricked, conned, fooled. Read the details in The Great Cholesterol Deception.
Largely due to the hysteria of the time, I decided to go on a "low-fat" diet. I relaced red meat like steak with fish and skinless chicken; I stopped eating whole eggs and settled for the whites only. I gave up drinking whole milk replacing it with 1% or 2% or even skimmed milk.
And while America was conned into giving up saturated fat in healthy red meat, two medical doctors solved their patients' medical problems by doing something radical - placing them on an all meat diet!
Dr. Blake Donaldson of New York was attempting to solve his patients' allergy problems while Dr. Walter Voegtlin, a Seattle gastroentologist, was working with patients who suffered Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Unknown to each other and working independently, both were successful in treating their patients.
But they noticed a surprising and welcome side effect. The patients who were overweight lost an amazing amount of weight from their waistlines.
After word spread about the amazing red meat fat loss diet, both doctors were inundated with requests from overweight people looking to lose unhealthy and unsightly fat from their abdominal regions.
When they retired, both doctors published books on their highly successful methods. Dr, Donaldson published his first in 1961; Dr. Voegtlin followed in 1972. Both books were published prior to the low-fat diet craze.
Saturated fat found in red meat, coconut oil, butter, and whole milk is essential for good health. It has been discovered that this fat improves cardiovascular risk factors, builds stronger bones, improves liver health, builds healthy lungs, builds a healthy brain, provides proper nerve signaling, and builds a strong immune system.
There is a caveat though. Make certain that your red meat comes from pasture-fed cows; this is also true of milk. (Avoid commercial milk found in your local supermarket. Buy raw if at all possible). Eggs should be sourced from cage-free, organically-fed chickens.
Healthy living > Bodyfat