Why is FAT so bad?
Fat in your body is actually not all bad. In fact, we cannot live without body fat. It plays very important roles in our bodies, such as:
- Stores energy
- Helps absorb vitamins, such as A,D, E and K
- Enables us to make hormones
- Insulates nerves, which is important for brain health
- Keeps our skin healthy
- Keeps our heart healthy
- Makes up cell membranes, “gatekeeping” what comes in or goes out
- Protects our organs
- Used by the liver to make bile, which we need for digestion
Fat: the Cranky Hormonal Hoarder, Invader, Stressor
But when we store too much body fat, it turns toxic. It sucks up our vitamins and stores pollutants. It hoards the good stuff, keeping it away from the parts of our body that need it, and it hoards the bad stuff, too, keeping contaminants around to make us sick.
Fat is an invader that infiltrates organs, and grips them in a stranglehold, with visceral, or organ fat deposited around our middle sections. For example, in fatty liver disease, a person’s liver looks marbled, like the fatty tender beef at the butcher! It can invade bones, too, making pockets that leave the bones brittle and at risk for breakage.
Fat even creates its own oxygen source and blood vessels – five stringy miles of it for every pound of body fat! For 20 extra pounds, that means your heart has to pump blood through 100 extra miles every one of the 100,000 times it beats every day. Talk about stress!
Did you know that fat also produces its own hormones? Fat’s hormones keep us lazy, anxious, depressed, tired, and craving high calorie foods at all hours, like sugar. Far from being inert, it is a living metabolizing bad player robbing us of health.
Fat is a Tumor
In fact, excess body fat is really best viewed as a tumor that wants to keep you from burning it off so that it can grow as big as it can, as fast as it can.
How fat is too fat?
One standard of measurement used is the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale, which is a function of height and weight. This is a good starting place, but does not tell the whole picture since a person can be of larger bone structure, for example, and measure “obese” when actually healthy. And the converse can be true: someone with a slight frame can measure within a healthy range and actually be “overfat.” There are various methods to measure body fat, such as calipers, waist to hip ratio, DXA, and body circumference measurements, among others. The method I use in my own practice is the BioImpedance Analysis (BIA). Optimally – by which I mean for the highest level of health – I’d like to see my female clients at 16-22% body fat, with the males at 12-15%. These percentages change somewhat with age.
Can someone be “healthy” with a higher percentage of body fat? Well, that depends what is meant by healthy! Health is certainly a range, but since the second strongest predictor of longevity is muscle mass, these optimal ranges are worth aiming at. If you are far from the target, do not let discouragement steal your motivation to begin – even an improvement of 5% will make a difference in how you feel, how your body functions, and will lower your chance of developing serious other consequences.
Since only 12% of American adults are considered metabolically healthy, that means that 88% of us are metabolically unhealthy!
We should not minimize the real and dangerous risks of excess body fat…
Risks of Excess Fat
These are only some of the risks of excess body fat:
- Cognitive Impairment (“Brain Fog;” Alzheimer’s Disease)
- Fatty liver diseases
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease (stroke, aortic disease, coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease)
- High blood pressure
- Osteoarthritis/Joint pain
- Oxidative stress (too many free radicals)
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Disregulation of sex hormones
- Mood disruption (anxiety, depression, anger, etc)
These are the scientific, academic risks of fat.
But we already knew that, didn’t we…
Nobody needs to tell us that fat is bad.
On a real-life every day level, we already know.
If we are carrying around extra weight, we feel uncomfortable in our clothes, our joints hurt, we have difficulty playing with our kids or enjoying recreation. We are tired. Notwithstanding the “body positivity” movement, when we are overweight – overfat – we know it, we don’t like it, and most of want to change.
Excess fat is largely a result of lifestyle choices. Yeah…I know…no mystery there. In rare cases, genetic or other medical root causes are at play, but in the vast majority of cases, it is our lifestyle that’s killing us with fat (and usually lifestyle has something to do with and can improve those medical situations anyway).
Making the lifestyle changes that enable us to lose fat can seem daunting. Celery sticks and hours of cardio? Ugh. And for the rest of my life?
I’ll be the first to state the power of healthy, real food to up-level your health in every respect. Processed food full of chemicals and sugar will never be your friend. But losing fat is about much more than drastically cutting all your calories.
In fact, what I see in my clients (especially those who complete the 10-week Solutions Reset) is that the weight is released because they are getting healthier, not the other way around. And then they get healthier because they’ve lost the weight, so it’s a great closed circle.
What to do
As a client gives her body the nutrition and lifestyle it wants, it is as if the body takes a big beautiful breath in, and then lets it out with a sigh, so relieved to finally be given what it needs. The release of fat follows, often dramatically. This is without extreme cardio, chalky shakes, or really deprivation of any kind. The Solutions Reset is a coached program, with my active interaction and support, but anyone can use its fundamental tools to lose fat and get healthier:
- Intermittent fasting (I recommend the 16:8 window, fasting 16 hours and confining eating to an 8-hour window)
- Time in nature
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Portion control
- Proper hydration
- Reduction of household toxins
- Proper sleep
- Mindfulness practice, especially gratitude
- Gentle movement
- Healthy elimination
- Mindset and heartset for success
Whatever method you choose to use, I hope that you prioritize fat loss as an important part of your healthcare plan this year – this month – this week! It really is that important. Set a small goal and don’t get discouraged – losing even some of the excess fat will give you good benefits. Your body will thank you today, and in all the years to come.
 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/statistics-report.html External link. Updated July 17, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2017.