“I can’t lose weight no matter how hard I try!” – this sentence is pretty common, isn’t it? Ever wondered why? The answer lies in the extra fat deposition on our bones and organs which become an obstacle for our weight loss journey. The key to slimming down is understanding that fat loss is more important than weight loss. Let’s study about how we gain fat and fat composition in detail!
What is Fat?
Fats are substances that help the body use some vitamins and keep the skin healthy. They also help the body store energy. In food, there are different types of fats such as saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fats. Most people consume too much of the wrong kinds of fat, putting their health at risk.
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
Daily diet contains fat such as different oils (sunflower, peanut, rice bran, olive oil, sesame etc.), ghee (clarified butter), butter, cheese, avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk, curd etc. (these are good fats). All these give us essential fats and 9kcal/g which helps the body function smoothly. They aid joint rotation, absorption of fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K. They’re the biggest source of energy.
The questions is where are we going wrong? How are we getting those chubby cheeks, round bellies, heavy arms and bulky thighs?
Do we consider how much fat we’re consuming when eating a 100g pack of chips? One packet of chips contains 100g but in serving portion, the manufacturer will only write 10g calories which amounts to approx. 20-28 pieces of chips which contain 160kcal, 7g fats and 16g carbohydrates. But do we only eat 28 pieces? It’s the same with burgers, pizzas, white paste, 2 minute noodles, biscuits, cookies and more. It has been shown that fat intake of the wrong kind will result in fat gain. As the body typically burns carbs for fuel and uses proteins for repair, it makes sense to cut back on bad fat while increasing good fat.
Different Types of Fat
The word “Fat” is broadly used to describe all body fats but that’s not true. There are several different types. Some fats can have a negative impact on health while others are necessary for good health. They can be stored as essential, subcutaneous or visceral fat. Each type of fat serves a different role. Some promote healthy metabolism and hormone levels, while others contribute to life-threatening diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and even Cancer.
- Essential Fat: Essential fat is exactly that – essential for life and a healthy body. This fat is found in our brain, bone marrow, nervous system and membranes that protect the organs. Essential fat plays a major role in hormone regulation, including the hormones that control fertility, vitamin absorption, and temperature regulation. Women need at least 10-13% of their body composition to come from essential fat to be in good health, while men require at least 2-5%.
- Subcutaneous Fat: This is the fat which is stored under the skin. It covers a major portion of our body fat. This is the fat we can squeeze or pinch on our arms, belly, thighs, and buttocks. We can measure subcutaneous fat as a way of estimating total body fat percentage. A certain amount of subcutaneous fat is normal and healthy, but too much can lead to imbalanced hormone levels and sensitivity.
- Visceral Fat: This type is also known as belly fat. It is the white fat that’s stored in your abdomen and around all the major organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and heart. High visceral fat levels can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, artery disease, and some cancers.
Body Fat Composition
The proper body fat composition and distribution of fat will protect us from various risk factors and diseases. Women have different sights of fat deposition such as thighs, arms, buttocks, below the belly button, etc. Men experience this on their chest, belly, and waist. This deposition is different because of the varying percentage of testosterone (male hormone) and estrogen (female hormone).
In males, mean percentage body fat ranges from 22.9% at age 16-19 to 30.9% at 60-79 years of age. In females, mean percentage body fat ranges from 32% at age 8-11 to 42.4% at age 60-79. There is a close relation between fat and physical exercise as regular exercises helps you burn stored fat. Exercise helps you turn deposited fat into an energy source.