Body Fat and Your Ideal Weight
All diets and healthy eating plans usually focus on weight loss, and there is a general acceptance that the closer you are to your ideal weight, the healthier you will be, the less risk of life-threatening and dehabilitating diseases. However, weight is only a small part of the picture. Your lean muscle tissue is important as well hence along this learning journey we have stressed the importance of not just making healthier tweaks to the way you see and eat food but you make time to exercise .* Vital body organs, such as your heart, liver and kidneys, need to be supported by lean tissue, as does your whole body and that is why fitness is so important. When we exercise we shape up on the inside as well as the outside.
Muscles use up more glucose, and therefore calories than fat meaning that lean muscle burns fat. This means that if you are heavy but fit; your weight may not be as much as a problem as you think. On the other hand if you are thin, but lightweight and lacking in muscle tone you may not be as fit as you think! That is why today when we take your measurements and weight/body fat you can use your body fat percentage to make a more accurate score of your health than the weight.
Body Fat Guidelines
Visceral Fat Guidelines
(1-9% = good, 10-14% = Risk, 15-59% = High Risk)
Eat Good Fats, Avoid Bad Fats
Some fats are essential to health, which is why we have an instinct to eat fat. The body’s ‘fat sensors’ are in your mouth – and we are instinctively drawn towards the creamy textures of fat, sauces, cheese and cream hence fat-free diets being a struggle for us. There are good fats and bad fats in food and only when you start to eat “good fats” does your body stop craving bad fats.
The good fats are essential fats listed on packets as polyunsaturated and are found in seeds, flaxseeds, grains and oily fish. They include the essential fatty acids (EFA’s) such as omega-3 and omega-6. These fats are essential to health and can help you lose weight. There are two reasons for this – firstly your body craves essential fats and secondly they help your metabolism top work properly; improve the effectiveness of the brain and the nervous system, they boost immunity, balance hormones and create healthy skin.
Your body and brain depend on Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fats. One quarter of your brain is made up of Omega-3’s and a lack of essential fats can lead to lower IQ, poor memory and a tendency to depression. Your hormone balances changes, possibly leading to mood swings, PMS, sugar cravings and weight gain. Your skin dries and your heart and arteries suffer and that’s why these fats are called essential. The Omega- 3’s not only boosts your metabolism they reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden heart attack and halve your risk of ever suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Good Food Sources
Fat Family Good Dietary Sources
Omega 3 Fish, especially salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and there oils.
Omega 6 Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds and their oils; also sunflower oil, corn oil and soya oil
Omega and 9 Olive Oil, almonds walnuts
The “bad fats” are non-essential fats listed on packets as saturated fats, trans-fats and hydronated fats and can be found in meat, dairy products, processed, fried and junk foods. Eating bad fats leaves you unsatisfied, so you’ll find yourself craving more fats as your body as received the good fats that it needs.
Bad fats feature heavily in the average Western Diet and are bad news for your heart, your weight and arteries. They contribute to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and coronary heart diseases as well as heavy weight gain. If you eat all these fats and don’t burn them off immediately, all your body can do is store them as unhealthy fat. Worst of all are the trans-fats and hydronated fats as these are the real ugliest - these have been processed, fried or damaged. When the molecules of essential fats are altered by food processing or frying they set up a reaction in the body that can damage the cells most commonly seen when using margarine or olive oil in cooking and that is why they as well as crisps, biscuits, ready-meals and fried foods are bad for you.
There is also an in-between fat (mono-unsaturated); omega-9. Olive Oil is a good source of this when drizzled in small quantities onto food whereas this is nowhere as good for you as the essential good fats, neither as bad for you as essential bad fats.
Foods to Avoid
Foods rich in bad fats include: French fries, hamburgers, deep fried goods, nuggets, confectionery, chocolate bars, potato and corn chips. Crisps, biscuits cakes, margarine, mayonnaise and most salad dressings. Unfortunately, many vegetarian processed foods are also high in these hydrogenated fats. Check the label – if it stated “hydrogenated vegetable oils” do not buy it!
Foods to Enjoy
The omega-3 essential fats, found in flax and pumpkin seeds, and oily cold water fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon and tuna help keep weight at bay in a number of ways. They help make hormone-like substances called prostaglands, which help control metabolism and fat burning. They also help to limit the potential damage to arteries caused when eating too many bad fats or sugary bursts of high glucose into the blood. Good sources of fats also include avocados although limit to ½ per day as with all fats they are calorific too and should be eaten in moderation.
The omega-6 essential fats, found in hot climate seeds such as sunflower and sesame, have similar health benefits to the omega 3’s and are especially good for the skin and maintaining hormone balance, for example combating pms.