Column 2 - Muscle or Fat

Original publication date: September 14, 1983

Have you just come from the doctor's office recently seen a height-weight chart advertised in a magazine? You may be one of many who has a weight that is higher or lower than the chart indicates for your height. What will you do?

You can try any number of diets in order to lose weight so you will be a "normal" weight. You may lose sleep, energy, and the ability to function at a normal pace. The diets may not be a success, which might make you feel that you have let yourself down. Your self-esteem could get very low.

Reference for up to date information for adults in Canada.

Government of Canada page with statistics about obesity and weight in Canada.

You can skip the diet routine and do the second and smartest thing. You can realize that, like many charts, the height-weight chart does not hold true for everybody. You need not ask yourself if you are overweight, but are you overfat?

Overfatness is the excessive accumulation of storage of fatty tissues in the body. This can happen in two ways.

The existing fat cells can become enlarged or you may actually have an increase in fat cells in your body.

During the first year of life, the third trimester of pregnancy, and the adolescent growth spurt, the number of fat cells in your body can increase in number. Monitoring or increasing activity during these crucial times could depress the growth of new fat cells.

The percentage of body fat that make up the body should be limited in both men and women. Men should keep their percentage of body fat under 20 per cent, while women should strive for under 30 per cent of total body fat.

Since the average person would not have immediate access to fat calipers, which measure the percentage of body fat, the pinch test could be a good indicator of the kind of shape you're in.

Men and women should pinch (with forefinger and thumb) under the chin, the chest, lower rib area, waist, abdomen, and lower back area. Women should especially check the backs of the upper arms and the backs of the thighs. If you can pinch an inch you need to firm and trim down.

Remember no matter what welght you are, you may be carrymg around excess fat. A 250-pound man who is five feet 11 inches may have less body fat than a man weighing 180 pounds of the same height. Although the 180 pounds seems a more ideal weight, the man weighing this may do little exercise and store his food energy as fat rather than muscle.

The 250-pound man may be a construction worker, a farm labourer, or a professional athlete who needs more food energy to sustain himself. Because his occupation demands a great deal of exertion, the food energy is burned up or stored as muscle. The weight may be high, but the fat content would be under control.

It would be nice to hear people talking more about body fat than body weight in the future.

"Have you seen Bob since he started doing exercises?"

"Yes. He looks terrific. I wonder how much fat he's lost?"

Copyright 2020 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.