“Body fat” isn’t just a term for body builders and professional athletes. Your percentage of body fat is an important measure of your overall health and fitness. For many, it’s also a measure of how good they feel (and look) in their clothes.
The more body fat you have– the lower your metabolism. And your metabolism is responsible for how fast your body burns calories. So, suffice it to say, you must decrease the amount of excess fat on your fabulous frame.
Overtime, when there are more calories consumed than burned– you end up with “love handles, muffin tops, middle-age spread, etc.” Excess fat tends to show up first in the abdominal area. I believe this is nature’s way of letting us know, “Hey, you’re putting too much in here!”
So it is important that we become aware of the levels of fat our bodies are storing. There are two types of body fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat near the surface of your skin– that you can poke and pinch. Visceral fat on the other hand is more hidden. It’s the dangerous fat that surrounds the organs in your core.
For many who are overweight, they have more visceral fat than subcutaneous fat (after all, you can only pinch so much!). According to Harvard Medical School, “The good news is that visceral fat– yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels.”
Here are my six stealthy tips for decreasing body fat:
- Decrease stress- The common denominator for most women with high body fat is high stress. And since excessive body fat is the result of more calories in than calories out– it’s pretty safe to say that people consume more calories than needed when they’re stressed.
- Increase cardio- Boosting the amount of cardio based exercise will shred body fat faster than you think. Take a Zumba, dance or step class 2 or 3 times per week. Get some high-intensity calorie burning in by running at the local high school or college track. Get your body in motion!
- Add more protein- Protein helps with the growth and repair of muscle. And muscle burns fat. Be sure to add protein to your meals and snacks (you’ll stay fuller longer). If you don’t like chicken or other sources of animal protein– increase your protein intake through vegetarian sources such as almond butter, peanut butter, tofu and soybeans. Or try some of our OATMEGA Wellness Bars (with 10 to 14 grams of protein per bar: Dark Chocolate Mint, Blueberry Pomegranate Crunch, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter or Mocha). We also have Smart Body Complete Meal Replacement Shakes (Chocolate and Vanilla– with 20 grams of protein per shake).
- Reduce simple carbs- Carbohydrates (carbs) are your body’s main source of energy. However, there are two types of carbs. Simple carbohydrates include things like white bread, table sugar and refined white flour foods (breads, cakes, crackers etc.) Simple carbs digest quickly and leave you feeling hungry quickly (and you end up eating more). Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, contain fiber (like popcorn, whole wheat, our Smart Healthy brown rice and quinoa). Complex carbs digest slower and keep you fuller longer. And the fiber helps keep your digestive system healthy.
- Get enough rest- Research by the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found that lack of sleep affected appetite regulation. People who don’t get enough sleep have an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which causes hunger. These sleepy people also experienced decreased levels of the fullness hormone leptin. That being said, many tired and sleep deprived people turn to high-calorie, high sugar calorie energy drinks and iced/hot coffee drinks. Get enough sleep so that you have enough energy to power through your day with ease and grace!
- Increase weight training- As we age, muscle mass declines (which turns to that flabby arm when you wave ‘good bye’) Add some weights to your workouts. Either hop on a machine or get hand/leg weights) Lifting weights– lifts your metabolism. Don’t worry about bulking up. Women have less testosterone than men, which means it takes a lot more effort to build bulk.
Your level of body fat lets you know whether you’re considered underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool used to measure body fat based on your weight and height.