We need body fat for protection and as an energy store. However, if your body fat percentage is too high, you should reduce it as it is bad for your health.
The “where” of body fat is crucial
Every person is different. If you are very athletic, you are more likely to have a low body fat percentage. But if you belong to the quieter group that prefers to spend their time on the couch with a book or a good movie, then your body fat percentage is probably a lot higher – and that without being overweight. More body fat in itself is not a problem either. The decisive factor is: is it white or brown body fat and where are the depots located?
White fat: Our fat stores are predominantly white and cushion us in certain places. In addition, white fat is considered a metabolic organ for energy metabolism. In women it is usually on the hips and buttocks, in men on the stomach. And that makes the difference: while fat down the waist is harmless, belly fat – the so-called visceral fat – lead to serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. If you have too much body fat here, you should reduce it.
Brown fat: It only makes up a small proportion of total body fat and is used to produce heat. Adults have stores on their armpits, collarbone, and kidneys.
Measure body fat – is that possible?
The calculation of the BMI was popular for a long time, but it says nothing about your body fat. There are several ways you can measure body fat, but none of them are 100% accurate. The methods at a glance:
1. Skinfold measurement
You can assume that the skinfold measurement delivers a relatively exact result – provided you always measure at the same point. To do this, you need caliper pliers, which can be bought cheaply. Using a reference table, you can see in which range your body fat percentage is.
2. BIA method
Maybe you already know the special body fat scales. Weighing sends weak electrical surges through the body. Based on the measured resistance, the scale can determine your fat percentage. The procedure is considered to be quite imprecise.
3. Hydrostatic weighing
The body fat determination takes place in a water tank and is very complex. It is basically only suitable for high-performance athletes or bodybuilders.
4. DEXA method
This is also not advisable for the average citizen. With the DEXA method, body fat is measured using X-rays.
Unhealthy belly fat – how much can it be?
It makes sense to measure body fat on the stomach. Because it is precisely at this point that it can be dangerous from a certain level. The method is called Body-abdomen index – BAI for short – and works as follows: Measure your waist circumference with a tape measure – exactly in the middle between the last rib and hipbone. Now divide the waist circumference in centimeters by your height in centimeters. The result provides information.
The following guide values show you whether your visceral fat is still in the green area. If the BAI value is above this, you should reduce your body fat percentage:
Under 40 years: up to 0.5
Between 40 and 50 years: up to 0.53
Over 50 years: up to 0.55
Example: A woman who is 160 centimeters tall has a waist circumference of 85 centimeters. 85 divided by 160 gives a BAI value of 0.53.
Alternatively, you can simply measure your waist circumference at its widest point. It becomes dangerous if the circumference is more than 87 centimeters for women and more than 100 centimeters for men.
This is how you can reduce your body fat
Is your body fat percentage above the recommended values? Then it is advisable to reduce it. You don’t need an iron diet for this, just make sure you have a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, high-quality proteins, fiber, healthy fatty acids and fruit. Make sure you increase your protein intake while reducing your carbohydrate intake. At the same time, you reduce your calorie intake by a good 500 calories a day.
Also, try to bring more exercise into your everyday life. Use stairs instead of the elevator, ride a bike instead of the car, and take regular walks in the fresh air. Consciously use every opportunity to become more physically active. With these measures, you will soon achieve success and reduce your body fat percentage to a healthy level.