What is Your Ideal Weight?
Understandably, many of us measure our "ideal weight" with a scale or using the widely spouted BMI scale (weight in kg dived by height in metres squared) this gives an overall picture of health. However, these are not always suitably informative because they fail to determine whether a person is muscular or fat.
Normal weighing scales cannot differentiate between muscle and fat. You will obtain an accurate measurement of your weight, but you do not know how much is lean mass and how much is fat. Lean mass is your muscles, bones, connective tissue and organs which are all active tissue requiring calories to function. The remainder falls into the fat category. You do require a percentage of fat to function, but that consists of only about three per cent for men and 11 per cent for women of your total body weight, this is for absorbing fat soluble vitamins and minerals, warmth etc.
As soon as an individual starts to increase their muscle mass-via strength training/weight bearing exercise, the scales are skewed. You can lose inches across the body (think of the picture above) however still weigh the same or even more due to an increase in muscle mass. This can scare a lot of people and de motivate them particularly when starting up an exercise programme. As a personal trainer in Harrogate I want to educate about the benefits of strength training-that includes women as well-and give you more information about the bodies make up and more accurate ways of gaining and measuring results.
Muscle Weighs More Than Fat - I Must be Hench! [tweet this].
When determining your overall health, it’s important to consider your percentage of body fat in proportion to muscle mass. Someone weighing 200 pounds with a body fat percentage of 25 is carrying around 50 pounds of extra fat. That same person weighing 200 pounds with 10 per cent body fat would be carrying around only 20 pounds of fat. This is significant in terms of health, not to mention how exhausting it is to carry around 30 extra pounds of fat. In addition, the person with 50 pounds of fat has only 150 pounds of lean mass to carry that weight, whereas the person with 20 pounds of fat has 180 pounds of lean mass to sustain it. That factor alone will have a dramatic impact on energy level, joint stress and mobility.
Thinner does not always mean healthier, either. Extremely thin people often have a lower-than-desired lean mass percentage thus are generally weaker and more susceptible to ailments such as osteoporosis. When we "lose weight" and reduce calorie intake, not only do we lose a percentage of our fat, we also diminish a percentage of lean mass.
By undertaking a structured exercise programme alongside a healthy eating plan we can optimise your body's 'fat burning' and preserve the lean tissue. Our bodies require far more energy to move lean mass than to move fat. Remember, fatty tissue is an energy source and does not require energy to move. If we have a larger percentage of muscle mass, not only is it easier to move, but we also require more energy to do it leading to an increase in the number of calories required to maintain-think of how much a bodybuilder can consume yet they are far from 'fat'.
Fat takes up more than four times as much space as lean muscle mass. So if you want to reduce your size, then reduce your percentage of body fat. An obvious indicator is your waistline. If your trousers are becoming baggy but your weight is not changing too much, you know you are heading in the right direction.
Another way to determine body fat is by taking measurements. This is easy to do, cost effective and can be easily monitored. Use a tape measure and record various measurements at points across the body (waist, hips, thighs, arms etc. Where applicable, measure both sides of your body and, if possible, measure at the same time of the day across a number of weeks.
What's your Ideal Body Fat Percentage?
If you are looking to lose a few pounds, don’t get too caught up in how much you weigh, but consider your measurements, how you feel, how your clothes fit and how you look. The mirror is a good indicator of your body's makeup. Remember, it is not how much you weigh, but rather what makes up the weight that counts.
If you would like more advice, or are considering changing your lifestyle and embarking on a healthy journey, speak to your friendly Harrogate personal trainer, Paul.
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The Fitness Rooms Blog is put together by some of the leading personal trainers in Harrogate.