Fighting the Fat Fight
Is it your goal to lose weight?
Then look to gaining muscle! You can gain muscle and literally decrease your body size without losing a pound. Yes, it’s true! So many are so obsessed watching the numbers on their scale they just aren’t seeing the bigger picture in the fat fight.
Try ignoring your scale for a while and instead focus on some muscle toning. If you’re a scale-obsessed person (I, too was guilty of this for YEARS), it can be tough. But it could literally be essential to your long term fat fight.
Look at That Fat
Fat doesn’t look good, does it? No… Fat covers up your natural muscle with a thick layer of ugly, spongy insulation, giving your body that soft, doughy look. When you strengthen the muscles, you burn off some of that spongy fat allowing the shapely contours of your muscles to become defined. Definitely more attractive. That’s the desired outcome of a good fat fight!
But aesthetic value is just a bonus. The real benefits are the health benefits.
Consider gaining muscle as your secret weapon in your fat fight. That muscle will fight for you ’round the clock, even while you sleep.
Body Fat Fight
According to Dr. William Evans of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, the average American loses 6.6 pounds of lean body mass every decade after age 20. The rate of muscle loss increases after age 45. With advancing age, most people gain fat even when body weight doesn’t change much. The muscle shrinks as the fat accumulates.
It’s a good idea to measure your body fat as opposed to obsessing over the numbers on your scale. Body composition focuses on body fat and lean body mass. If you can determine that you’re losing fat while gaining or even maintaining muscle, you know your program is working.
Measuring Your Body Fat
So how do you go about measuring body fat composition? Well, first you have to accept the fact that gaining muscle to replace fat is a slow process. While physically this is better for you, psychologically it’s frustrating and discouraging. You need an accurate and scientific method of measuring your progress. There are at least a dozen methods of body composition testing. The most popular and widely used are as follows.
- Underwater Weighing (Hydrostatic): You are submerged under water while sitting on a chair that hangs from a scale. The basis for hydrostatic weighing is the fact that fat floats and muscle sinks. The fatter you are, the more buoyant you will be, and the more buoyant you are, the less you will weigh underwater. The leaner you are, the more easily you will sink, and the more you will weigh underwater. Underwater weighing is interesting, but not very practical.
- Bio Electric Impedance Analysis: – Bio-electric impedance analysis (BIA) measures body fat by testing the electrical conductivity of your bodyâ€™s tissues. Because the test is based on your bodyâ€™s water status, the results can fluctuate based on your state of hydration, but overall research finds BIA fairly reliable.
- BIA Body Fat Scales and hand grip tests – Tanita makes the best body fat scale. Omron sells the most popular hand gripper. The scale measures the lower body while a hand grip test measures the upper body.
There are many other methods used to measure body fat, including total body potassium, total body electrical conductivity, isotopic dilution, urinary creatine excretion, total body calcium, total body nitrogen, total plasma creatinine, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, neutron activation analysis, and dual photon absorpitometry.
Say what? No worries. None of these are practical for personal use on a fat loss program.
Fat Fight Skinfold Testing
The most practical approach to measure your body fat is one we purposely waited to mention – skinfold testing. It’s easy and when done properly, very accurate in determining your body fat percentage. All you need is a simple little, inexpensive device called a “skinfold caliper“.
The only downside is potential errors from taking the skinfold with improper technique. For example, taking a horizontal fold when it should be a vertical fold. But it isn’t a technique that’s difficult to perfect. And one last tip: Whichever caliper you pick, stick to it. Switching from one to another can make results appear different.
This doesn’t make one device “wrong”, it’s just that there can be fluctuations between different brands.
“Although you can find more glamorous contraptions, a skilled “pincher” can get a better estimate than with any other method except dissection. The only drawback to using calipers is operator error; but practice does make perfect.” -Dan Duchaine
Now go pinch an inch & lift a little. 🙂