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Fat Facts

In the never-ending battle against the bulge, having the right information, planning well and executing them wisely often goes a long way in successfully keeping off those undesirable pounds of fat. In this section, common topics about fat loss will be addressed. With this arsenal of knowledge, you will be well on your way to achieving that iconic beach physique and an improved quality of life.

Ways to Target Fat Loss

  • Caloric restriction through diet has classically been used in numerous studies to induce weight loss in obese patients by increasing the ratio of caloric expenditure to caloric intake.  Diet modification alone has been shown to significantly improve risk markers of cardiovascular disease along with blood lipid profiles. However with weight loss, it is difficult to quantify the loss of fat mass (FM) as opposed to fat-free mass (FFM) (i.e. muscle)
  • Within this decade, a growing body of research is supporting the combination of exercise and diet to be most effective in specifically targeting fat loss. This is particularly important because one study showed that very low calorie diet (VLCD) was only effective in inducing fat loss only in the early stages and failed to produce favourable changes in body fat distribution as fat would be conserved as an energy source in a very energy restricted environment. Furthermore, the initial loss in weight seen tends to also include loss in muscle which is responsible for maintaining a high resting metabolic rate (RMR). Both these factors negate the body’s ability to lose. As such, it could be also be explained why most fad diets fail to work long term.
  • The combination of diet and exercise, both aerobic and resistance training was found to produce only modest weight loss but was most effective long term in preserving lean mass whilst beneficially affecting body fat distribution by reducing visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) (cf. Visceral vs. Subcutaneous  Fat). When it comes to bodybuilding, a proper training regime and a well-balanced diet is the way to go.High intensity interval exercise (HIIE) has been shown to be effective in losing excess fat. One study demonstrated numerous benefits in improving overall fitness capacity, enhancing skeletal muscle adaptation to training, increased insulin sensitivity (minimising risk of Type 2 diabetes) and time savy suitable for hectic lifestyles.
  • Where food allergies are absent, a well-balanced diet would consist of a variety of unrefined carbohydrates, low-fat dairy products, adequate lean protein from animal meats and fish, fruit, vegetables and moderate amounts of good fats and oils.

Fat Percentages

In targeting fat loss, it would be best to have an idea of your body fat percentage. Weigh scales and body mass indices are the least reliable indicators given that they are non-specific to fat mass. Waist circumference and skin-fold measurements generally require skill and proper technique but provide a good and reliable estimate.  Various gadgets such as body fat scales and digital callipers have also been designed nowadays to provide the general public with a convenient and accurate means of measuring body fat percentage. No one ideal body fat percentage exists given that individuals vary in their genetic background. Nonetheless, guidelines comprising of a range of body fat percentages have been established. They will be presented in the following table:

Classification

Men (%)

Women (%)

Age

Below 30

30-50

Above 50

 

9-15

11-17

12-19

 

14-21

15-23

16-25

Essential Fat

2-4

10-12

Obese

>25

>32

Acceptable

18-25

25-31

Fitness

14-17

21-24

Athlete

6-13

14-20

Most importantly, having a certain amount of body fat is crucial for the optimal functioning of the body. Storage fats help insulate and protect vital organs whilst essential fats have important functions such as hormonal production, brain functions and maintaining healthy eyes, skin, hair and nails. In summary, achieving the recommended range of body fat percentage whilst pursuing your bodybuilding goals will ultimately benefit overall performance, health and wellbeing.

Advisor, Sports Fitness, A Guide to Body Fat Percentage (2011)  http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/bodyfatpercentage.html
Boutcher, S.H., 'High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss' (2011) 2011 Journal of Obesity
Bray, G.A., 'Lifestyle and pharmacological approaches to weight loss: efficacy and safety' (2008) 93(11_Supplement_1) Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism s81
Chaston, TB and JB Dixon, 'Factors associated with percent change in visceral versus subcutaneous abdominal fat during weight loss: findings from a systematic review' (2008) 32(4) International Journal of Obesity 619
Fitness, New, Body Fat Analyzing-Comparing Methods of Measuring Body Fat (2011)  http://new-fitness.com/body_fat_analyzing.html
Network, Health, Body Fat Percentage (2011)  http://www.healthnetwork.com.au/weight-loss/body-fat.asp
Noakes, M. et al, 'Effect of an energy-restricted, high-protein, low-fat diet relative to a conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on weight loss, body composition, nutritional status, and markers of cardiovascular health in obese women' (2005) 81(6) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1298
Redman, L.M. et al, 'Effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution' (2007) 92(3) Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 865
Ross, R. et al, 'Reduction in obesity and related comorbid conditions after diet-induced weight loss or exercise-induced weight loss in men' (2000) 133(2) Annals of Internal Medicine 92
Spalding, K.L. et al, 'Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans' (2008) 453(7196) Nature 783
Stiegler, P. and A. Cunliffe, 'The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss' (2006) 36(3) Sports Medicine 239
Thomson, R.L. et al, 'The effect of a hypocaloric diet with and without exercise training on body composition, cardiometabolic risk profile, and reproductive function in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome' (2008) 93(9) Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 337

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