Is Body Fat The Best Measure of Health?


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Most people associate the term ‘body fat’ with obesity, heart disease, and bad cholesterol. Although too much body fat usually leads to various health problems, a certain amount of fat is necessary for proper body functioning. The trick is to find the right balance between the necessary fat and the Buddha belly most of us are trying to tackle.

How Body Fat Is Produced and Used

Every time we eat, our body absorbs the fatty content of the food, and produces its own fat in the form of glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol is processed by the liver and turned into glucose to be used as energy. Fatty acids provide energy for all tissues, including skeletal and cardiac muscles. Other uses of fat include maintaining good reproductive health in women, maintaining proper body temperature and energy levels, proper cellular functioning, shock absorption and absorption of vitamins A, E, D and K.

What About Excess Fat?

Excess fat is not burned or used as energy, and it is stored by the body. Large amounts of excess fat can lead to obesity, and a host of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, some cancers, and respiratory problems. The best way to maintain good health and avoid excess weight-related illnesses is to know your fat percentage and make sure it is in line with what the scientific community advises. If you're looking to shed some pounds, your fat percentage can be your actual numeric goal instead of a desired weight that may not be the best indicator of good health. There are numerous body fat scales and measuring devices available on the market, and if you’re unsure how to measure it, talk to your doctor or even a personal trainer.

Recommended Body Fat Percentages For Men

On average, men store less fat than women because the female body requires more fat for ovulation and other reproductive processes. An average male needs 2-5% of fat for basic function, 6-13% of fat is required for athletes, and 14-17% is necessary for healthy functioning. Men who have between 18-24% of fat are considered to be of acceptable health, while those with more than 25% are obese. These are clearly estimates, and everyone’s optimal body fat percentage is different and depends on multiple factors, which is why it is best to check with a professional.

Recommended Body Fat Percentages For Women

Everyone knows at least one BBG who's gorgeous and carries her weight beautifully like Ashley Graham. However, looking attractive and being healthy are two different things for women on both ends of the spectrum, including being too slim and being overweight. On average, the scientific community recommends 10-13% of fat for basic function, 14-20% of fat for athletes, and 21-24% for general fitness. Women who store between 25 and 31% of fat are of acceptable health, while those with more than 32% are considered obese.

Reproductive Health in Women

When it comes to reproductive health, research suggests that 12% of fertility problems are due to low fat percentage. On the other hand, those with extra fat trying to slim down before getting pregnant can find themselves unable to conceive because a high level of exercise can interfere with getting pregnant. This is precisely why all women who are unsure whether their body fat percentage is at a healthy level should consult with a health or fitness professional before taking any drastic measures to lose weight or get in shape.

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