Body Fat–Argh!

If you’re like most Baby Boomers and older adults, you probably wonder where all that extra body fat came from?  I mean, a few years ago, there was just a lot less of it.  And now if you’re sitting around more than usual, that waistband may be getting even tighter!

Here are 10 facts about body fat from James A. Peterson, Ph.D., from the American College of Sports Medicine:

1)  It all starts in your genes.

The number of fat cells a person has (average: 10 – 30 billion) is basically genetically determined.  And after your teen years, the amount settles on the preferred number of fat cells.

2)  And the number never gets smaller.

Once fat cells have been developed, they don’t go away.  While they can get smaller in size, the number only changes in one direction, with obese people having up to 100 billion fat cells.

3)  Not all fat is the same.

We have three types of body fat with different functions and implications.  Visceral fat, which wraps around the organs of the body, can be the most harmful, linked to metabolic disease and insulin resistance.  Other types of fat store energy, insulate the body, and provide padding for muscles and bones.

4)  You need a certain amount of fat.

Too much body fat is associated with chronic disease, while too little can also be unhealthy.

5)  There’s a desirable range.

For women, 20% – 25% body fat is desirable; for men, it’s 15% – 20%.

6)  Winning the battle of the bulge.

Research has shown the best strategy for losing abdominal fat is to limit the number of calories consumed and also exercise on a regular basis (both cardio and strength training).

7)  Age-related fat gain is a choice.

As we age, our metabolism slows, and the amount of body fat tends to increase (especially around the midsection).  But this increase is not inevitable, as long as you’re proactive with #6 above.

8)  Eating fat does not make you fat.

Eating more calories than expended makes you fat.

9)  And what about that ugly dimpled skin?

Cellulite is fat that’s been deposited beneath the skin, often showing up on thighs and rear ends.  It’s not caused by toxins or impurities, and there’s no cure for it.  Again, you can probably blame genetics.

10) Spot-reducing is pointless.

Trying to shed fat from a specific area in the body is without merit.  Sit-ups won’t do it.  The only way to reduce weight in any part of the body is to lose weight everywhere in the body.

What you can do:  As you age, make an intentional effort to cut back on the amount of food you eat (to balance that slowed metabolism), walk to burn calories and keep your brain happy, and lift weights to help keep the amount of body muscle from dropping significantly, helping decrease the percent of body fat. 

And for more help on controlling your body fat, give me a call.

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