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Body Composition and Why Weight isn't the Most Important Measure

 

Body composition is a complicated subject, so complicated that I spent 3 years studying about it in graduate school. But the most important thing to know is that the number on the scale doesn't tell us everything!  When talking about health, weight does not indicate how healthy a person is – you need  complex forms of measurement to learn more and properly assess health. 

 

The most important thing to recognize is there are many different parts of our bodies that make up our body composition – with the main two being body fat and lean mass (or muscle).  These two types of tissue (body fat and muscle mass) play a key role in health. In addition, the amount of each we have in our bodies will greatly influence our overall shape. 

 

For example, see the image below. Both these women weight the EXACT same weight, however one has 15% less body fat (and more lean mass or muscle). Muscle weighs more and influences how our body works, for example it plays a key role in metabolism. 

 

 

Important notes about muscle mass:

  • Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than body fat – meaning it uses up more energy.  This means that if you have more muscle, you will burn more calories than someone who is the same weight but with more body fat (even at REST).

  • Muscle mass is important for health and has been linked to healthy aging (like improved bone health and quality of life).

 

The low down on body fat:

  • Extra food that is consumed and not needed for energy is stored as body fat.

  • There are many research studies that link excess body fat to harmful health outcomes.

  • Burning off fat through exercise at a lower intensity is important to ensure you are at optimal health. 

 

Bottom line: rather than focusing on weight loss, it is important to try to focus on fat loss!  You can do this by building more muscle through exercise including resistance training.  By increasing your muscle and losing fat this will lead to a healthier body and greater overall health!

 

As always, please feel free to connect with us if you are looking for support! 

 

Cheers to happy and healthy eating (and exercising)!

 

Until next time,

 

Eat Right Feel Right - Tory Ambrose (guest nutritionist blogger) and Angela Wallace 

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