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  • Katie

Why Body Fat Matters

Have you been exercising for a few weeks or months and the scale hasn't budged?Maybe it has, dare I say, gone up! This is completely normal and why I have clients focus on body fat instead of overall weight.

One of the first things I do with a new client is determine their current weight and body fat percentage. After the initial groans of seeing their numbers on paper, I talk about what those numbers mean in relation to what is considered healthy. Here I have listed the break down of different body fat percentages and their health level according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):

Your body fat percentage is calculated by comparing your body fat mass to your lean body weight. Organs, blood, bones and muscle tissue are all considered lean body weight. The more body fat mass you have, the higher your body fat percentage. I like to use body fat percentage instead of weight because it gives a better picture of how your body is comprised. A 5'5" 130lb woman could seem healthy because she appears skinny and has a low body mass index (BMI). However, she could have a body fat percentage over 31% and be considered obese. She could achieve such a high body fat percentage because she has low lean body mass most likely due to a small quantity of muscle tissue.

There are two ways to lower body fat percentage. The first way is to perform interval cardio exercise to burn the body fat (I will explain my rationale on interval training in a later post). The second route is to complete strength training exercises that will increase your lean body weight by adding in more muscle tissue. Through this process, you will lose body fat mass and gain lean body weight.

But all of this may not change the number on the scale. If you lose 3 pounds in body fat mass and gain 2 pounds in muscle tissue, you've only lost one pound on the scale. And even more horrifyingly, it may have taken you 4 weeks to get there. However, this may translate into an entire 1% loss in body fat percentage and a noticeable change in your physique.

I had one client that was so upset at the end of 8 weeks together because she had only lost 3 pounds of overall weight. But she had lost an entire 10 pounds in body fat mass! She was laser focused on the scale and not noticing that she had achieved a better body composition.

In future posts, I will give my recommendation for at home body fat percentages scales and how they work. For now, let's take the focus off your overall weight and look at your ratio of fat to lean body weight!

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!

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