I feel this time of year after the Christmas binge is a good time to address the critical issue which is weight loss. From my personal experience I’m noticing a growing trend in what we call in the fitness industry “skinny-fat”. Your first question would be how can someone be both fat and skinny? Well it’s quite simple it involves under eating along with poor nutritional quality from the food you do eat and a lack of exercise. The low calories and poor quality along with the lack of any strenuous exercise will ensure you’re not hugely overweight if at all but you have a serious lack of muscle tone and there for a high body-fat percentage.
BMI is the government way of tracking obesity (Body Mass Index) its a simple calculation based on your height and weight it takes nothing else into account, this can be misleading for many people. Both BMI and Weight encourage people to lose weight and the majority of people will cut calories in order to that. With a growing trend in anorexia do we really want to be encouraging people to eat less and lose weight? In some cases yes, but continually trying to weigh less and therefore eat less and less can soon lead to a negative result, more importantly we need to be encouraging exercise and better more nutritious food.
An example of this would be client readings I’ve taken in the past, two examples spring to mind had a BMI under 24 so were in a healthy weight range. Both though felt fat and unfit and wanted to eat better and exercise. Upon measuring there body-fat they were both nearly 45% fat! Both of these were given plans to eat more! And subsequently lost body-fat and inches without much change on the scales. The other extreme would be rugby players, heavyweight boxers, bodybuilders who all have a high BMI but would be much much lower in body-fat. I myself have peaked at 35.1 BMI but at that time using the same technique as the above people was 8.2% body fat. The BMI reading puts me in the morbidly obese category and there would be other athletes that fell into the same scenario.
Now not everyone wants to be full of muscle and weighing heavy but what this shows is weight has no real relevance to how fat you are only body-fat measurements can show that. Your weight doesn’t really effect how you look either much more important is your body composition (fat%). Anorexics feel fat despite being severely under weight, now yes of course by this stage they have lost all grasp on reality but in truth they will be able to pinch fat on their bodies and everything will be loose because there is no muscle tone to hold them firm, so in reality until they become really ill and possibly die they actually have a high body-fat percentage as they have such little lean tissue.
Muscle is heavier than fat! Right?
Wrong a tonne of bricks weighs the same as a tonne of feathers so if you’re 10st you’re 10st, people wanting to get in shape have this silly notion that training will make them heavier because they build muscle, this is a crazy! Muscle is what creates all movements. Moving is how we burn calories, the stronger and bigger our muscles are the more potential calories we can burn. Think of a car, if you drive round in a 1.1 Ford Fiesta your petrol consumption isn’t that high drive round in a 5litre V8 and you need to stop at every service station on the motorway. Muscle is the human engine that drives us so if we build it we burn more calories both during training and at rest. Now you’re maybe still thinking I want to be toned not muscular or I want to be smaller if you’re a girl. Well here is where the muscle and fat ratio come into play; muscle is denser than fat so 10st of muscle is smaller and tighter than 10st of fat. You weigh the same but look better and measure smaller. You also store muscle in different areas to fat so muscle is going to firm and tighten your arms and legs and the fat loss will most probably come from those hips or your stomach.
Things to take away from this:
- Eat good nutritious food to fuel those workouts with a high protein content
- Build muscle tone to speed up your metabolism
- Build muscle tone to improve the effectiveness of your workouts
- Get your body-fat checked don’t rely on weight alone
- Focus on the positive eating better, training with progression
- Get off the scales look for changes in measurements and body-fat % using accurate callipers measurements done by a professional.