As Health and Wellness become key priorities in modern day life all around the world, we are moving away from the desire to be skinny and looking to develop strong and agile bodies.
Nevertheless, the determination to decrease body fat is still very much on the minds of many. So how can we measure how much fat our body is carrying and what are the tips to creating a lean and toned physique?
Measuring Body Fat – The Options:
Body Fat Scales: These are available to buy from multiple retailers online, with varying prices and accuracy. Do a little research through reviews before purchasing a body fat scale, or stick to a well-known and trusted brand, such as Tanita.
Tape Measure: For quick and simple results, whip out a tape measure and insert your measurements into an online body-fat calculator. There are some pretty sophisticated options out there now that will require you to input a few more physical details but deliver a more accurate assessment of your body’s fat quantity.
Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA): For the super keen and dedicated, this technique offers one of the most precise and accessible options for screening and calculating body fat. After attaching electrodes to the outside of the body, scientists measure small electrical signals that are passed around the body and then use your physical details to analyse the results, such as weights, height, age, ethnicity, gender etc.
When: they recommend booking sessions in the morning and advise against consuming alcohol 24 hours beforehand or doing exercise the night before to secure the best results.
Where: Some personal-trainers and gyms offer sessions, or you can find a nearby university if you fancy signing up to a research programme for free tests.
DEXA Scanning: If money is no boundary, you could have incredibly precise results in only four minutes! The DEXA scan can measure the amount of fat on your body right down to the gram, and it will set you back around £160 for the scan and consultation at a reliable clinic.
Hydro-static Weighing: Not for the faint hearted… this test requires you to be dunked in a tank of water while you try and concentrate on blowing out air. The amount you float indicates the level of fat the body is carrying and an underwater scale is used to calculate the body’s density. Although quite nerve-inducing, they do claim to be able to acquire very accurate results.
Reducing Your Body Fat:
So you have your individual body fat measurement, and maybe a headache after being zapped and dunked, but what are you going to do next?
The significant demand for nutrition information has fuelled a revolution in dietary advice and fitness approaches. No longer are all ‘food fats’ the enemy, but they have been separated into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fat groups. The new super-hero on the scene, Joe Wicks, breaks down the information in his best-selling fitness range:
“Some fats – such as trans-fats found in processed foods – should be avoided, but others are actually essential for the body, such as omega-3s (found in oily fish), which help reduce inflammation.”
Joe explains that the body also needs fats to: help the body absorb vitamins; provide the body with energy; regulate body temperature and maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. It also provides the body with energy and protects your organs, nerves and tissues.
Joe Wicks ‘Lean in 15’ 2015 edition.
- So don’t cut out the fats! Just be more selective over the ones you consume. Try and resist the pastries and sugary treats, but don’t starve your body of the essential fats in nuts, avocados, coconut oil and oily fish.
- Keep hydrated! Water is instrumental to most of our body’s activity and makes up almost 2/3 of us. It also helps speed up our metabolism so make sure you are consuming at least 2 litres a day, and much more if you have put your body through a good sweat.
- Cut back, if not out, the alcohol! Not only is alcohol full of unhealthy fats but it actually prevents the body from burning fat… I won’t labour the point because no one wants to be reminded, but you will see a significant difference if you restrict your alcohol consumption.
- Focus on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) – the most effective way of burning fat, and improving your cardiovascular fitness, is to put the body through short bursts of maximum effort exercises. Make sure your heart-rate is elevated to near its maximum during each exercise and then give it quick rest breaks between each set of exercises. If you are new to this fitness concept, use YouTube to try out a couple of HIIT workouts. Joe Wicks has lots of free 15 minute workouts to try on his YouTube channel.You’ve got the ability to measure and the techniques to blast away the fat and build lovely lean muscle, but the last requirement is commitment. Find ways to keep yourself motivated by setting yourself targets, taking up a new fitness hobby or going on the journey with a friend.
Nobody said it was easy, but the only thing in your way is yourself (and the biscuit cupboard!)