The question many women want the answer to is “how to reduce body fat percentage of women”. Keep reading and you’ll find the answer;)
Fat has a bad rap these days. As obesity numbers consistently increase in the US I can see why it’s getting some unwanted attention. It is projected that about half of the US population will be obese (not just overweight) by 2030. Those are some scary numbers!
Body fat is actually considered an organ in the body as it has a vital role in your endocrine system and regulating hormone levels. However, too much or too little of a good thing can also be a bad thing. Visceral fat is the “bad” type that causes health issues and heart disease, however, it usually goes undetected. The fat we pinch under our skin and the one we most want to get rid of for that “toned” look is called subcutaneous fat.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be as these are solely based on my experiences. Please consult your family doctor before considering any recommendations listed in this post. Thanks!
We need fat on our bodies to function optimally
As demonized as it is, we actually need fat to feel our best and for our bodies to function optimally. However, we need the right type of fat for health. There are 3 types of fat – some are more beneficial than others.
This is the bare minimum we need to stay alive and for our bodies to function. It is found in our brain, bone marrow, nerves, and organs. For women, about 10-13% of body fat is considered essential. Most of the figure and bikini competitors get down to this level of leanness but only for a short period of time as it is not healthy or sustainable.
The fat everyone wants to get rid of. Subcutaneous fat lays underneath our skin that can be pinched and is necessary for keeping our body happy and healthy.
- It is stored energy for your body
- Provides protection for bones and muscles
- Is a passageway for nerves and blood vessels between skin and muscles
- Regulates body temperature
Storing too much subcutaneous fat can impose risk on your overall health causing complications such as:
- Heart disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Estrogen dominance
- Fertility issues
If you have ever been underweight or dieted down to low body fat levels, you know leanness has a price too. Having too low of subcutaneous fat can also impose unwanted side effects and health concerns such as:
- weakened immunity
- bone loss
- heart conditions
- fertility issues
it may come as a surprise to you that those really lean fitness models you see in magazines are not as healthy as you think as being under fat can be just as unhealthy as being overweight.
The dangerous type of fat and also known as belly fat. Visceral fat is the type that can cause increased risk of heart conditions, stroke, and heart attacks. This fat builds up around abdominal organs and can also build up in the arteries.
It’s important to note – just because you have fat you can pinch on your stomach, does not mean it’s visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is also present in the abdomen area, however, does not impose as much risk.
Visceral fat is not easily seen; one will need to have a CT or MRI scan in order to be formally diagnosed. As an estimate, one can calculate their total body fat in percentage and take 10% off that as visceral fat. Additionally, women with a waist that measures 35 inches or greater are at an increased risk of having more visceral fat. You can use the waist-to-hip ratio to estimate body fat percentage, however, getting your body fat done by a professional or personal trainer is suggested for accuracy.
What happens to the body when we have too much Fat?
Too high a body fat percentage for women puts us at risk of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and endocrine disruptions. It also puts a lot of extra strain on your body which can cause mild Side effects such as:
- depression and mood disorders
- sleep apnea
- weakened bones and muscle
- joint pain
- poor self-esteem
33% body fat percent is considered overweight for women. When one becomes overweight, they are essentially carrying around an extra 20-30+ lbs on their body all day every day. Can you imagine the effects of carrying around a 30lb dumbbell all the time? While being overweight has unwanted side effects, being underweight can be just as taxing on the mind and body.
What happens to the body when we have too little fat?
I’ve been underweight (under a healthy body fat percent for me) and it was not as fun as you may think. I was insecure, self-conscious, and too preoccupied with food. Under fat is different for everyone as we all have different homeostasis that our body likes to maintain. However, anything below 14% is dangerously low and can cause complications. Not to mention, the long list of side effects that come along with having a low body fat percentage for women:
- irregular body temperature (cold all the time)
- hair loss
- poor digestion
- hypothalamic amenorrhea (loss of period)
- Brain fog
- mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
Finding a body fat percentage that your body is comfortable with is the goal. Now that you have that unrealistic picture of that fitness model you want to look like out of your mind, let me tell you how to reduce body fat.
how to reduce body fat
When it comes to reducing body fat, people seem to overcomplicate things. However, weight loss does not need to be complicated at all! If you are looking to reduce body fat, follow these 4 simple tips and watch to fat shed away!
start strength training
muscle is more metabolically demanding than fat. This means it requires more calories to maintain. When you gain more lean muscle mass you may weigh the same (muscle weights more than fat) but you will look leaner as muscle is more compact and takes up less space.
Additionally, your resting metabolic rate will increase meaning you will be able to maintain a lean physique on more calories than before.
mild calorie deficit
MILD deficit! I know jumping on a new diet is exciting and you want to give it your all. But, Don’t go slashing 1000 calories a day from what you’ve been eating previously. That is a recipe for metabolic disaster! A more sustainable approach will allow the body to build muscle while also feeling safe enough to shed fat.
I suggest a 10-15% calorie deficit from maintenance, which you can calculate if you already track your macros/calories or use an online calculator. However, the most effective way to create a calorie deficit is with a CPT or nutrition coach (check out my contact page for ways I can help you:)
eat enough protein
There are a few reasons protein is important during a weight loss phase:
- satiety – protein helps you feel full for longer
- builds lean body mass
- The thermic effect of food is greater – this means it takes more calories to digest
- It’s harder for protein to be stored as fat than carbs or fats
Sleep is the most underrated way to succeed at one’s weight loss goal. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night for the average adult can help:
Regulate appetite: When we do not get a good night’s rest, we are hungrier the next day. This is because our hunger hormone ghrelin increases and our satiety hormone leptin decreases. This may also play a role in food choices, hence the hangover feast at Denny’s after a night of no sleep.
Sleep can affect your energy expenditure: Physical activity and getting your workout in the day after a good night’s rest is a heck of a lot easier. Additionally, your brain function and motivation are heightened with sleeping well.
wrapping it up
Reducing body fat (if that is your goal) is not as hard as one may think. The real challenge lies in your plan and adherence. Make sure you are embarking on this journey from a place of self-love and not because you want to look good for someone else. External motivation only goes so far…
take it from an expert, I have been through weight loss and weight gain. neither of those things made me happy until I got my mindset right.
until next time xx