I think that most people have heard of fat skinny by now. But is everyone familiar with what that means? It refers to people who are thin and perhaps “in shape” but have a lot of visceral fat (internal), which happens to be far more unhealthy than subcutaneous fat (right under the surface of the skin). Visceral fat is linked to all kinds of health problems from metabolic disease, cardio vascular disease, premature death, etc. It has more recently been associate with hormonal problems.
Visceral fat is very interesting in that we need it to survive. As a matter of fact, if a woman has too little of it she will become infertile (also possible with too much). It is needed to protect our organs as well. Men have lower levels than women do and thus there are different goals to aim for percentage wise. Back to its health implications however, I was reading than some professionals, very controversially, think that it could be considered an organ! It is a necessary part of the body and more recently has been seen to have functions including storage and release of certain hormones. Lipid soluble vitamins are also stored in the fat.
So now you know how important it is, and also how important it is to keep it in a healthy range. I underwent body fat analysis twice this summer through an electrical measurement which releases a small electrical current into your body and can tell how much fat you have by the speed at which it travels through you. This method is highly criticized as you can get different readings at different times of the day depending on hydration levels, etc. It does however actually attempt to measure visceral fat directly which the skin fold measure cannot do.
It is not nearly as valid of a measure as other devised methods, however they require special equipment and facilities and are not feasible for most of us. Anyhow, my body fat percentage was through the roof! As a matter of fact it said I was obese! How could I, 115lb 5’3″ be obese? I practice yoga and run multiple times a week, I have a better diet than anyone else I know how could this be!? Well it can be and it was. I started watching how much I was eating (because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing) and a month later my percentage had dropped a few points. Granted I still have a few pounds more of muscle to gain and fat to loose before I get in my target zone <25% but I am getting there.
I just wanted to write this to share with you the dangers and benefits of body fat and how one can be deceivingly unhealthy beneath their layers of muscle and size 2 pants. On a side note, I just wanted to say please don’t fret about numbers such as BMI or lbs. Body fat percentage is more important. If someone is highly muscular or has large healthy bones that will increase your BMI and lbs. Below you will find a handy chart from the American Council on Exercise, and here is a link from Harvard for you to read more about the subject.