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Facts about Fat

How much is too much body fat?

It is generally accepted that men should have less than 18% total body fat and women less than 23% and that an excess is not particularly hazardous to health until levels reach 35% and 40% total body fat respectively.

So what is percent body fat?

Percent body fat is the percentage of the total body that is fat. Thus someone who weighs 150 pounds and is 10% fat has 15 pounds of fatty tissue.

Where does body fat come from?

Fat is produced by the body when the diet provides the body with more calories than it needs for general maintenance and its current level of physical activity.

How do I lose excess fat?

The removal of excess fat is achieved by consuming less calories than the body requires. The body's fat stores will be broken down to address the deficit.

How does exercise affect body fat?

An increase in regular exercise will help to increase your calorie expenditure. The more physical activity you do the more calories you will burn. Accordingly, if you increase your physical activity, and do not increase your intake of food, you will draw the extra energy needed from your stored body fat.

Why do gains in weight always seem to go on the same place?

The body tends to deposit fat according to your individual genetic code. Females will accumulate fat around their thighs and hips, males around the midriff.

Can I get fat off from a specific part of the body?

The simple answer is no. If you exercise a particular part of the body, muscle tissue under the fat will become firm and make the overall appearance of that region look better. However, such specific exercise will not reduce the quantity of fat within the area. Simply by jogging you will not just reduce the fat around the legs and hips, the fat providing energy for this activity may be coming from the stomach, chin, back etc.

How many calories will it take to lose one pound of fat?

For long term weight loss you need to expend approximately 4000 calories to lose one pound of fat.

Can I sweat off excess weight in a steam room or sauna?

The loss of weight through excess sweating as experienced in the sauna/steam room is not fat but water. Such weight returns immediately you consume fluid. Consequently if you lose say two and a half pounds in a session in the steam bath you will replace it with approximately the next two pints of water drunk (one pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter).

However and obviously more worrying is that if the fluid loss is replaced by a high calorie drink you may end up gaining fats because of your weight loss attempt.

What are Essential Fat and Storage Fat?

Essential fat, required for normal physiological functioning, consists of fat stored in the marrow of bones, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles and lipid rich tissues of the central nervous system. In females, the extra 9% of fat is required for childbearing and other hormonal related functions.

Storage fat consists of fat accumulation in adipose tissue. Men and women have similar quantities of storage fat - on average 12% for men and 15% for women.


Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • DURNIN, J. V. G. A., and RAHAMAN, M. M. (1967) The assessment of the amount of fat in the human body from measurements of skinfold thickness. British Journal of Nutrition, 21 (03), p. 681-689
  • LOHMAN, T. G. et al. (1983) Methodological factors and the prediction of body fat in female athletes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 16 (1), p. 92-96
  • WITHERS, R. T. et al. (1987) Relative body fat and anthropometric prediction of body density of male athletes. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology, 56 (2), p. 191-200

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Facts about Fat [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/fat.htm [Accessed

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