Fitness and weight loss basics: Belly fat, body fat and BMI
A certain percentage of body fat is vital to your health and wellbeing. Regardless of whether you’re following a fitness or weight loss program, it’s important to maintain a healthy level of body fat that enables your organs to perform essential functions. For men, a body fat percentage of at least 5% is considered healthy, whilst for women – who require more body fat for reproductive and hormonal functions – the body fat percentage should not be less than 12%.
Why is some body fat good – and all belly fat bad?
It’s critical to understand the function of body fat when following a weight loss and fitness program. Whilst having too much body fat poses a hazard to your health, so too does having too little fat – to protect your organs, provide warmth and guard against diseases such as osteoporosis, for example.
However, before you attempt to burn fat or add a bit of bulk to your frame, consider the difference between “good” types of body fat, and bad. Known as adipose tissue, normal body fat is not metabolically active, but it does serve to fulfil the vital functions listed above. Abdominal fat, however (sometimes referred to simply as “belly fat”), has been found to pose a severe risk to one’s health, and can greatly increase one’s chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and various types of cancer.
Losing belly fat, losing body fat and maintaining a healthy BMI
By following a healthy weight loss plan and exercise routine, you’ll begin to lose the excess, “bad” fat from your body and greatly improve your health and wellbeing. However, if a significant portion of your fat is concentrated around your belly area, you’ll need to work especially hard to tone and strengthen this area.
Your gym or health club’s fitness instructor can advise you on the best exercise for weight loss, and also on the ideal types of exercise for losing belly fat. He or she will help you devise a workout plan that will burn fat and promote natural weight loss. For the most effective ab workout, focus not only on crunches or sit-ups, but also on resistance training and cardio workouts. Most vitally, be sure to follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain products and natural, unprocessed foods.
Body fat vs BMI
While body fat measurements and Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations both provide clues as to how “fat” a person may be, the information they offer should be viewed – and used – differently.
By measuring your body fat percentage, you’ll gain an idea of how much of your weight is comprised of actual fat. Bear in mind, however, that even more important than considering how much fat you have is considering where it is located. As explained above, belly fat is far more hazardous to your health than fat concentrated around the hips or thighs, for example.
Your BMI uses your weight and height to calculate your body fat. To determine your BMI, take your weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of your height in metres. The results can be categorised as follows:
Underweight: BMI < 18.5
Normal: BMI of 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight: BMI of 25 – 29.9
Obese: BMI of 30 or higher
This calculation will give you an idea of how overweight you may be. However, it is often considered inaccurate because it doesn’t distinguish between the weight from fat and the weight from muscle, which is far denser than adipose tissue.
Busting belly fat; boosting health and fitness levels
To learn more about body fat, belly fat and the best exercise for weight loss, chat to a qualified Virgin Active Health Club instructor today. Our guys are trained to provide expert advice and guidance that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Getting rid of body fat is essential to improving your health and reducing your risk of developing serious illnesses, and the best way to do it is by combining exercise with a healthy diet and weight loss plan. Viewing our selection of tasty, low-fat meal ideas, and hitting your nearest Virgin Active Health Club today!