Putting on a few pounds here and there is normal, especially around the holidays and as we age, but how much is too much? Knowing how much fat you have inside you is important because too much puts you at risk for high cholesterol and other big health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, some types of cancer, and stroke. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who revealed how to tell if you have too much fat and what to do about it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Excess Fat
Ashley King, a professional trainer, fitness and nutritional expert with Yes.Fit says, “Paying attention to weight gain is critical, because the more you gain, the more difficult it is to lose it. Don’t fall off the deep end — catching early weight gain is the best way to solve the problem at the root. Bouncing back and forth across extreme weight loss and gain is bad for cardiovascular and digestive health, which is why it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your weight.”
How to Measure Your Fat
Jordan Trinagel, a licensed occupational therapist and online health coach states, “BMI isn’t the greatest measurement because it doesn’t take into account muscle mass. So it may say you are ‘obese’ but really you just have a lot of muscle. I would focus on waist to hip ratio. Making sure your waist is smaller than your hips Because if you carry more weight around your midsection it can increase chances of heart disease. Measuring body fat can be done using a body scan machine or hand held caliper device. Over 24% for men and over 31% for women is too much fat.”
Erin Mahoney, a personal trainer and fitness textbook author explains, “The most common method people use for assessing fat and if you have too much fat inside you is through the Body Mass Index, or BMI. The BMI is a calculation based completely off your height and weight. Any number over 30 is considered obese, with anything above 50 being very obese with very high disease risk. As long as you know your height and weight there are many online calculators you can use to quickly get your BMI.
However, the BMI isn’t the best way of assessing visceral fat because it doesn’t take into account the weight of lean body mass. Lean body mass (LBM) is simply muscle tissue and because it’s denser, it weighs more than fat by about 25% in some cases. Therefore, a very muscular person might appear as though they are scoring in the danger zone of BMI. Therefore, a better method to determine if you have too much fat inside you is through a body composition analysis (or body fat test). This will determine what percentage is muscle versus fat—a better indicator of overall health. “
Body Composition Testing
Mahoney says, “Body composition testing can sometimes be inconvenient where you need a fitness professional to measure it, special device (that can vary), or multiple circumference measurements. Therefore, a more convenient and great way to determine if you have too much fat in you is the waist to hip ratio method. It’s a simple calculation of the circumference measurements from two sites- your waist and hips. You’ll measure the smallest part of your waist, without pulling your stomach in. Then, you’ll measure the widest part of your hips. You divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement to get a score. A score of .8 for women and .95 for men is an indicator of too much belly fat and can put you at risk for a number of diseases.can sometimes be inconvenient where you need a fitness professional to measure it, special device (that can vary), or multiple circumference measurements. Therefore, a more convenient and great way to determine if you have too much fat in you is the waist to hip ratio method. It’s a simple calculation of the circumference measurements from two sites- your waist and hips. You’ll measure the smallest part of your waist, without pulling your stomach in. Then, you’ll measure the widest part of your hips. You divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement to get a score. A score of .8 for women and .95 for men is an indicator of too much belly fat and can put you at risk for a number of diseases.”
Weight Gain and Mental Health
According to King, “Unwanted weight gain is directly connected to your mental health. Do you notice yourself not wanting to socialize? If you’re retracting from your connections with the people around you for no apparent reason, this can be a sign that weight gain is affecting your mental health. When your weight gain affects your confidence, it can affect your ability to make healthy connections with the people around you, and it’s crucial to address this in order to maximize your happiness and sociality.”
Self-Esteem and Body Confidence
“You might not notice it, but if you’ve put on unwanted weight, you might gravitate towards more ‘modest’ clothing,” King says. “This is often a subconscious sign that you’re losing self-confidence as a result of body image uncertainty. Self-esteem is beyond important, and if excess fat is affecting your confidence in your own body, it’s time to take action and make changes to your nutrition and exercise routine to bring yourself back to full confidence.”
Upticks in Muscle and Joint Soreness
King states, “If you’re feeling additional aches and pains, your back is tighter, knees are more sore, this can be a sign of weight gain that you might not have otherwise noticed. Even a small amount of excess weight can put additional stress on your joints and muscles, and if you’re noticing additional soreness in the morning or at the end of the day, your body is telling you that it’s time to make a change in routine.”
“Feeling tired? If you think that weight gain might be affecting your energy levels, it probably is,” King explains. “Extra weight means your body must exert more energy to function properly, leaving less left over when it’s needed most. The quickest way to get your energy back is to begin, or revisit a regimented nutrition and exercise regimen — this will help cut excess weight, and give you the momentum to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.”
Changes in Eating Habits
King says, “An uptick in unhealthy eating habits, such as binge eating on comfort foods, not only causes additional weight gain, but signifies an acceptance of it. When excess fat seems difficult to address, don’t self-sabotage with something that will make it worse — take a step towards healthy eating and activity, and your mental and physical health will grow along with it.”
Go With Your Gut Feeling
According to King, “Your gut feeling is almost always right, specifically with regards to weight gain. Many people who have gained unexpected weight will notice an increase in gastrointestinal symptoms, heartburn and bloating. When in doubt, go with your gut — it will tell you precisely what you need, so long as you listen closely.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.