Two Terrifying Words: BODY FAT

It's a phrase that can bring up some uncomfortable feelings, especially in teens and young adults. However, learning about your body fat percentage and your overall body composition can help you understand more about yourself than what meets the eye. I recently got my body fat percentage tested, and while it was a little nerve-racking, it has allowed me to know more about myself and my fitness and nutritional needs. 

How Fat am I?  

Why would anyone want to know how fat they are? Well, that isn't exactly what the tests are all about. Many tests also provide information on how much lean muscle a person has, as well as how the fat tissue is distributed throughout the body. Learning your body fat percentage isn't just a number that tells you you're fat (because we all literally NEED fat to survive). It just provides you with an idea of how much body fat you have, how that relates to your weight, and your health status. 

Body Fat Basics  

First of all, your BMI is not your body fat percentage. BMI, or Body Mass Index, simply uses your height and weight to determine a persons weight category. It can be fairly misleading as it doesn't account for muscle composition and is strictly based on two data points, so it is a cheap way to get a general idea of health, but not much more than that. BMI does not account for muscle, which weighs more than fat, genetics, or the amount of physical activity a person does. In fact, there is a whole other Spoon article about better measurements than BMI! 

Secondly, men and women have very different bodies. Men are built to have much less body fat than women, so girls, if you compare numbers with a guy friend, just know that you SHOULD NOT be the same as him! For reference, below is a chart of what the American Exercise Council has released as body fat percentage categories. 

Megan Edison

No matter what, you shouldn't feel bad about your percentage. It is just a heath data point. If you are living an active lifestyle and eating a balanced diet, then there is no need to stress over the percent. However, it is important to know that higher body fat percentages are linked to a higher risk of heart disease and type two diabetes. This data is just a way to help you understand your body and allows you to reflect on your lifestyle choices.  

Live. Love. Fat.

Just like how not all food fats are bad, not all body fat is bad. It is needed for the reproductive cycle, insulating organs, and provides heat and energy to the body. It is an essential part of health and shouldn't be a taboo topic to discuss. Being healthy means having fat, and that's just how being human is! No one should feel bad because of it, but instead just always put themselves and their body first, it's the only one you get for your entire lifetime! 

If you want to get your body fat percent tested, there are various methods. I have used a BodPod, a handheld body fat monitor, and a standing body fat scale, all coming with assorted pros and cons. To know where to get tested, just do a quick Google search or talk with your doctor. Usually, hospitals and athletic facilities offer BodPod testing, as well as other body composition educational tools. 

So eat a slice of cake, but also some vegetables because #health!