Fighting the Fat Fight

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 Fight!
Fat Fight!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Bio Electric Impedance Analysis: – Bio-electric impedance analysis (BIA) measures body fat by testing the electrical conductivity of your body’s tissues. Because the test is based on your body’s water status, the results can fluctuate based on your state of hydration, but overall research finds BIA fairly reliable.
  3. 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

AccuMeasureThe 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. 🙂

FAT: It’s Not Always Bad!

Fat Facts

Experts agree that a healthy diet involves eating a variety of foods and keeping your fat intake to 30-percent or less of your total calories. Easier said than done? We will take a look at how simple it really is. But first, a word about fat.


All fats contain nine calories per gram, more than twice the calories in proteins and carbohydrates. One teaspoon of fat contains about 45 calories.

But not all fats are created equal. Fats can come from both animals and plants. Animal sources of fat are found in meat, poultry, fish, whole-milk dairy products, egg yolks, butter and lard. Plant sources of fat are found in shortening, margarine, nuts and vegetable oils.

Hidden fats (fats you may not see) are found in meat, poultry, fish, nuts and whole-milk dairy products, as well as in prepared foods and bakery products.

Bullet Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fats primarily come from plant sources.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (unlike saturated fats, which usually are hard).

Polyunsaturated fat is found in oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and cottonseed. These oils, and foods made with them, tend to lower cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats in your diet.

Monounsaturated fat is found in oils such as canola, peanut and olive. Foods rich in monounsaturated fat also may promote heart health.

Bullet Trans Fatty Acids

Trans fatty acids may increase the risk of heart disease. Trans fat results when polyunsaturated oil is partially hydrogenated in order to make it into stick margarine or solid shortening in a can. The bulk of trans fatty acids in the typical American diet are found in hydrogenated oils (used in crackers, baked goods, cereals and breads); fast foods such as French fries, fried fish and onion rings and margarine, especially stick margarine.

Recently, some researchers have suggested that we should eat butter instead of margarine because butter does not contain trans fatty acids. However, butter is saturated fat and does contain cholesterol. Both may increase your risk of heart disease, but since butter is all natural, if you must indulge, do watch amounts and perhaps go with the butter. Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol. The more liquid the margarine (tub or liquid forms) the less hydrogenated it is and the less trans fatty acids it contains. Some margarine’s contain no trans fatty acids.

The American Heart Association recommends that consumers follow these tips:

  • Use naturally occurring, non-hydrogenated oil such as canola or olive oil when possible.
  • Look for processed foods made with non-hydrogenated oil rather than hydrogenated or saturated fat.
  • If using margarine as a substitute for butter, choose soft margarine’s (liquid or tub varieties) over harder, stick forms. Shop for margarine with no trans fatty acids, no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and with water or liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient.
  • French fries, donuts, cookies and crackers are examples of foods that usually are high in trans fatty acids.

Bullet Saturated Fat

Saturated fat comes from animal sources, such as fatty red meats. It also can be found in plant sources.

Tropical oils such as palm, coconut and palm-kernel oils are vegetable-derived and found in many processed foods, especially commercially baked cookies, crackers and snack items. These oils are more saturated than lard.

High consumption of saturated fat is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Bullet What About Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is not the same as fat. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by animals that is found only in foods that come from animals. Sources of cholesterol include whole milk, dairy products, fatty meat, poultry, fish, butter, and lard and egg yolks.

Eating dietary cholesterol may raise blood cholesterol levels. However, the body also makes cholesterol when a person eats foods that are high in saturated fat. Saturated fat often is found in the very same foods as cholesterol. Remember that a diet high in saturated fats leads to high blood cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and some cancers.

To control your cholesterol, get a cholesterol screening, eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and follow all your healthcare professional’s recommendations.

Cholesterol Levels

  • Desirable — Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Borderline high risk — 200 to 239 mg/dL
  • High risk — 240 mg/dL and over

Bullet How Much Fat Do I Need?

It is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate all fat from your diet. Fat helps maintain healthy skin and hair. It helps your body digest and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, K and E). It also regulates cholesterol levels and stores the body’s excess calories.

Eating too much fat, especially saturated fat, can be a health problem. But how much fat is too much? Fat requirements are based on calorie needs. It is recommended that you get no more than 30-percent of your daily calories from fat. You can determine your calorie needs by multiplying your desired weight by 12 (multiply by 10 if you are trying to lose weight). Most moderately active women need between 1,800 and 2,000 calories. Most average men between 2,200 and 2,400 calories.

Your calorie needs depend on your age, sex, and overall body size and activity level. You will know that you are taking in the right amount of calories to match your current amount of activity when your weight is being maintained at a healthy level. Consuming too many calories or getting too little physical activity will cause weight gain. You may become overweight.

Determine Your Fat Intake

To determine your desired fat intake, drop the last “0” from your calorie intake and divide by three. For example, if you determine your calorie needs to be 1,800, dropping the last “0” gives you 180. 180 divided by 3 = 60. A person eating 1,800 calories a day needs no more than 60 grams of fat to stay healthy.

The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee recommends that healthy Americans over age two limit their daily intake of saturated fat to less than 10-percent of total calories and total fat intake to no more than 30-percent of calories. This recommendation equals a daily intake of fats and oils of about five to eight teaspoons.

So you see, fat isn’t ALL bad! 🙂

Weight Loss Fat Loss

Weight Loss Fat Loss

To make things worse in the world of fitness and weight loss, you’ll often read about weight loss – only to turn around and find yourself reading about fat loss. Weight loss fat loss …

Is there a difference? Yes, there is.

Weight loss fat loss?
Weight loss fat loss?

Weight loss and fat loss are not only confusing subjects, they can be conflicting and enormous amount of “advice” floating around from “experts” can be contradictory. This can lead to major mind turmoil for just about anyone. So much so, a person can easily wind up giving up before long.

Consider this: You can take a diuretic and lose 5 pounds of so-called weight off your scale over night. But have your REALLY lost any body fat? Your body is 70 percent water, so no, you didn’t. You just drained it of vital fluids.

A general guideline to follow is anything that creates a fast drop in poundage is nothing more than “weight loss fat loss”. And this “weight loss” can also damage muscle. Oftentimes this type of weight loss can be bad for your health. Be careful.

Fat loss, on the other hand, takes time. You need patience and perseverance. But with every day you’ll feel a bit better, become a bit leaner and find that you’ll reap rewards you can FEEL (very important) in short order. This will motivate you! And when those jeans are suddenly lose around your waist and you need to put another hole in that belt you bet you’ll be smiling! Even if the scale doesn’t appear to be budging.

Weight Loss Fat Loss Can Intermingle.

Hopefully you can now clearly see how weight loss fat loss are not the same thing. Your goal should be losing fat while maintaining muscle. As long as your body has solid muscle, you needn’t worry as much about what the scale says. The ratio of muscle to fat in your body counts for more. You can weigh in at a very lean 5’7″, muscle-intense 140 pounds and wear a size 8, whereas another woman who is more “flabby”, also around 5’7″, would weigh in at 140 and be a size 12!

So basically, when you lose weight, it’s really FAT you want to lose. The best way to do this is to replace fat with muscle. Muscle will keep burning fat ’round the clock, too. Even while you’re asleep.

The 3 most common answers I get when I ask people what their fitness goals are:

  1. Lose weight.
  2. Be stronger.
  3. Feel better with more energy.

Those are fine; however, you should zero in on your goals and be more specific. Determine a “weight loss fat loss” goal in specific pounds. Determine a “be stronger” goal along with “feel better” in gaining strength and endurance that allows you to easily skip up a flight of stairs without becoming a bit out of breath.

Where to begin losing fat?

Lifting Barbell Weights
Of course, exercise. You don’t need to follow “no pain no gain” approach, but you should work your muscles to the point you feel “stiff” and a bit on the sore side. Don’t think of it as “sore” though, think of it as STRENGTHENING. Visit our exercise section for a myriad of ideas on different exercises you can perform for strength gains. Try to do muscle gaining exercise every week – at least 3 times, about 20 minute per session, okay? On alternate days, get in a walk or other form of cardio exercise you enjoy for 20 to 30 minutes per session. Housework, lawn mowing, gardening all count, too!

In your diet you should try to:
Fruits and Vegetables

    • Reduce saturated fat.
    • Cut trans fat.
    • Reduce refined sugars.
    • Eat a variety of natural foods (fruits, vegetables).
    • Eat plenty of fiber.
    • Eat small, frequent meals.
    • Stay hydrated.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has established guidelines for healthy weight loss. Their recommendation for a weight loss goal is 1 to 2 pounds per week. This is very reasonable and more importantly, very doable for anyone. It also helps you achieve permanent, healthful weight loss.

Some fitness gurus will tell you to sit down, write out goals, do this and do that. Well, if you feel something like that will work for you, go for it. However, for those not inclined to this type of approach, one little note jotted down and kept near you – repeated until ingrained in your mind – DOES help:

I can accomplish virtually anything I set my mind to.

Forty Four Fat Trimming Tips

Forty Four Fat Trimming Tips Freebie

Bringing fat levels into line with health recommendations is not as difficult as most people seem to think. It is a simple goal, easily accomplished by shaving a few grams of fat here and a few grams of fat there. Following are 44 suggestions that offer help to get you started.

Forty Four Fat Trimming Tips
Forty Four Fat Trimming Tips

The Forty Four Fat Trimming Tips

  1. Take the focus off small meat portions by trying stir-fry’s. Very little or no oil and lots of vegetables keep the dish lean.
  2. Try the en papillote (paper packet) technique for fish or chicken. Use parchment paper or foil and place lean meat, herbs, vegetables and a splash of liquid, like wine, in the center. Wrap and bake.
  3. Bake fish with a splash of white wine, chopped tomatoes, and basil for a fast, low fat entree.
  4. Opt for the select grade in meat; it has less marbling and much less fat than choice cuts.
  5. Marinate lean cuts of meats with citrus juice, vinegar, or other acidic liquids to help tenderize them before cooking. Add fresh herbs to flavor marinade.
  6. Substitute turkey breast or lean ham for luncheon meats like bologna, salami, and liverwurst. Or try low fat turkey copycat versions of pastrami and bologna.
  7. Let lean smoked ham or Canadian bacon take the place of bacon in recipes. Ham offers the smoky flavor of bacon with less fat.
  8. Use meat and cheese as side dishes, and let vegetables and grains fill out the plate.
  9. Peel the skin off chicken or turkey after roasting or baking. As long as you remove skin prior to eating, you will cut back on fat.
  10. Broil meats used in stews, soups and roasts rather than browning them in oil. No need to add more fat to foods that already contain plenty.
  11. Oven-fry chicken and fish: Dip in egg whites, coat with seasoned bread crumbs and bake on a nonstick pan coated with vegetable spray.
  12. Make fruit pies with a single crust. Place the fruit directly in the pie dish and top with pastry. Or make an open face fruit tart.
  13. Bake, stew, or poach peaches (or apples or pears) with cinnamon, cloves and honey for a lean dessert splurge.
  14. Puree chopped cantaloupe in the blender, then add a dash of nutmeg and serve the sauce over ice milk or low fat frozen yogurt.
  15. Substitute evaporated skim milk in recipes that call for heavy cream.
  16. Reach for gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, fig or low fat fruit bars, and animal crackers when cookie cravings strike.
  17. Serve angel food cake with fresh strawberries (or frozen, thawed, with
    syrup included) and fresh kiwi slices for a colorful dessert.
  18. Make pudding with skim milk. Add a touch of spice, like nutmeg, cinnamon, or cloves, to boost flavor.
  19. Cook onions, mushrooms, and green peppers in a pan coated with nonstick vegetable spray, not oil. Two tablespoons of oil used to saute vegetables will carry an extra 240 fat calories. Vegetable sprays add less than ten.
  20. Cut back on buttering vegetables with this gradual method: Use one part margarine with one part lemon juice. Eventually try for mostly lemon and little or no margarine.
  21. Top a baked potato with salsa, meatless chili, or low fat cottage cheese and dill or mixed vegetables plus a tablespoon of grated low fat cheese.
  22. Roast vegetables (sweet pepper chunks, zucchini, asparagus, sliced eggplant) for some low fat flavor. Spray lightly with vegetable spray. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until tender but crisp.
  23. Peel and chop jicama or cucumbers; sprinkle with chili powder to make a Tex-Mex style munchies.
  24. Create a tangy salad dressing with a splash of rice vinegar and dried herbs, or combine plain nonfat yogurt, Dijon mustard, and spices for a creamier topping.
  25. Fix a mock cream sauce with nonfat, plain yogurt; season with dill and serve over salmon. Another variation: Season yogurt with horseradish and serve warm instead of chilled.
  26. Save roughly 10 grams of fat by substituting a tablespoon of mustard for
    a tablespoon of mayonnaise on a sandwich. Other low fat spreads include fruit and vegetable chutney and salsa.
  27. Substitute low fat milk and chicken stock for cream in recipes. The flavor will be less rich, but will taste as good.
  28. Keep reduced fat margarine’s and mayonnaise on hand; they often contain half the fat of the full fat variety. Nonfat mayonnaise is another option.
  29. Use nonfat powdered milk to lighten coffee instead of cream or nondairy creamers.
  30. Pour syrup on pancakes or waffles instead of butter. Two tablespoons contain 100 calories, but zero fat. Two tablespoons of butter add 200 calories, almost all from fat.
  31. Revamp vinaigrette dressing recipes from traditional 3 part oil, 1 part vinegar, to 3 parts vinegar, 1 part oil. Use rice vinegar for a milder flavor.
  32. Mix equal amounts of nonfat plain yogurt with mayonnaise to make a creamy, lower fat dressing for tuna or chicken salad. For even more savings, use reduced fat or fat free mayonnaise.
  33. Concentrate on a few target foods that you are willing to substitute for or limit. Starting with small changes allows for a better long term adjustment to low fat eating.
  34. Look for crackers and snack products that have been baked rather than fried. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts panel.
  35. Chill homemade and canned soups; skim off the fat layer that forms on the top. Each tablespoon discarded saves about 120 fat calories.
  36. Let an 8 ounce container of 99 percent fat free cottage cheese stand in for the ricotta cheese in your lasagna recipe. You save almost 200 calories, most of them from fat. Nonfat and low fat ricotta cheeses are also available.
  37. Order pizza with any kind of vegetables such as onions, broccoli, mushrooms, green pepper and less cheese. For a meat topping, choose Canadian bacon or ham instead of high fat sausage or pepperoni.
  38. Drain pan-fried foods on a paper towel before serving to absorb extra grease. Go easy on the oil.
  39. Keep the oil in your saucepan or wok very hot when stir-frying.
    Vegetables soak up cold oil much quicker than hot.
  40. Sprinkle powdered butter substitutes (found in the spice section) onto hot foods like baked squash and mashed potatoes. One half teaspoon, a mere four calories, replaces the 108 calories and 12 grams of fat found in a tablespoon of butter.
  41. Fill the refrigerator with nonfat yogurts, sliced raw vegetables, seasonal fruits, fruit juice bars, and frozen low fat fudge bars. When the urge to snack strikes, these low fat munchies will be at your fingertips.
  42. Nibble on bread sticks instead of buttery dinner or crescent rolls. Bread sticks are much lower in fat, and there is less temptation to slather them with butter.
  43. Experiment with fresh herbs like basil, dill, rosemary, and cilantro. Try
    them on vegetables and poultry and in soups. They add lots of great flavor but no fat.
  44. Give yourself a break on occasion. When you are tired of paying attention to every bite of food you put into your mouth and craving a few French fries or a slice of chocolate cake, indulge and enjoy yourself! For heart and overall health, diets do not have to include only certain foods. It bears repeating: Low fat eating is all a matter of balance.

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