Saturday, September 30, 2006

4. Education: What is body fat?

I once thought that my body fat was nothing more than the fat I ingested in my diet deposited to my belly and love handles. As little as six years ago I thought that by limiting my fat intake, I would control body fat. But, lo and behold I was gaining weight even without a great deal of fat intake. I didn't understand what was happening.

Now I feel silly for ever thinking that. But, as I talk to more and more people I'm finding that it's myths like that that are prevent many people from losing weight. The purpose of this educational series is to review the things that I know now that make it much easier for me to understand how to control my weight, that I didn't know six years ago.

*The number of fat cells in your body is pretty much constant after puberty.
*Fat cells are your like your fuel tank. You body stores extra energy there to be used later when your body runs out of the energy supplied directly from your food intake.
*Your fat cells grow in size as they store more energy - that's called gaining weight.
*A gram of fat contains 9 calories. No wonder our bodies like to store energy in fat. Protein only stores 4 calories per gram. On a normal day, you burn 9 calories in about 20 minutes.
*If you continually feed your body more calories than it needs, it will eventually store some of those calories in your fat.
*Your wonderful body does covert fat in your diet more readily to fat in your belly, but extra calories from protein and carbohydrates can and will be converted body fat.
*One pound of body fat can supply your body's energy needs for about a day and a half. If you're 10 pounds overweight, you have enough energy to go without eating for 18 days (although your body would need other vital nutrients to stay alive).
*Fat was our ancestors' insurance policy against famine. They ate well when food was ample and then subsisted on their stored calories in times when external calories weren't as readily available.
*Liposuction can remove fat from one part of your body, but if you keep taking in more calories than your burn, your body will just store the extra calories in the remaining fat cells in your body leading to some weird features (e.g. trim belly, fat arms).
*The distribution of fat differs from person to person. Men tend to have fat cells in the midsection, while women have them in the breasts, buttocks and legs.
*Our body's tend to prioritize where it stores fat. For example, my body tends to store energy on my midsection and under chin first. When I reach maximum capacity in those places it tends to distribut to other parts of my body like my fingers and face. It comes off in the reverse order. For me, it drops off my face and fingers, then my mid-section and chin.

Click here for a GREAT article about fat cells in the body.


Anonymous said...

What is body fat is a good question. Is it a cell that is differnt from mucsle and bone and brain cells? Is it a term that philosophically refers to the baggage that we carry and that creates a false need in us? I am not saying that "fat" in the technical since does not exist. But I am saying that when we refer to body fat and talk about our body fat we are really expressing a result of things or ideas that we impress on our selves?

Seth said...

Chris - Thanks for the post. Some might believe that. There's so much dangerous dogma around weight. I had to fight a belief that was planted in my brain from an early age that we are genetically pre-programmed to reach a certain weight and there wasn't much I could do to change that. Talk about feeling powerless. But, I eventually figured out that was hogwash and I figured out I can control my weight. I can control what I put in my mouth. I can control my activity level (sometimes). Figuring that out was quite an enlightenment. Like spreading my wings.