Body fat – you may not like it, but we need it.

Fat gets a bad rep in modern society, and thanks to social media, I think we’re comparing ourselves to other people’s bodies more than ever before. Whilst some may argue that seeing six-packs everyday is aspirational, I’d argue it’s hugely damaging to our relationship with our bodies and food, and completely unrealistic.

The truth is we actually need body fat. Especially us women. As human being we have ‘essential fat‘ – a percentage of total body fat mass that is necessary for insulation, protecting our vital organs, for vitamin storage, and building key cell messengers like steroids that are necessary for effective cell communication. Without this fat, the body does not function properly, and entire systems like our immune systems and neurological system will be affected.1-2

As women, we need a higher body fat percentage than men (roughly 20% compared to roughly 11% in men – varies with age). Why? At some point in a women’s life they may need to nourish a foetus and a baby. Whilst I do agree we need to address the obesity problem in society, I do not think it should lead to the complete elimination of fat. In fact, the almost complete disappearance of body fat in women means our body functions start to fail. Low body fat percentage can lead to serious hormonal problems and the cessation of the period (known as amenorrhea).

Why am I telling you this?

Because I think it’s hugely important that our goals support our health. I get lot of clients and friends asking how to get rid of fat in certain places. The issue is we cannot target fat loss on certain parts of the body. Where you store body fat is mostly due to genetics and hormones. This means to have no fat on that part of the body where you want to lose it (more often that not – the stomach area), you may have to drop below a certain body fat percentage, which can be unhealthy.

Moreover, having a low body fat percentage is draining. I’ve been there. It controls your life, every decision you make. But let me ask you this, how many time a year do you show your stomach for example? Maybe 10%?

Why spend 90% of your efforts trying to improve something that people see for 10% of the year?

It can be extremely difficult to change our relationship with our body. It often comes with a change in mindset – from an external one, motivated by external factors such as looking good, to an internal one, where we’re motivated by internal factors such as feeling good. If you’re struggling with goal setting and often find yourself feeling down about your body, I may be able to help. I work with clients to shift mindsets and improve their relationship with their body, and consequently food. Please feel free to get in touch or book a free consultation.

Love Emma x

REFERENCES:

  1. Bredella MA. (2017) Sex Differences in Body Composition. Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Metabolic Homeostasis, Diabetes, and Obesity. 1043:9-27.
  2. Ethun K. (2016) Sex and Gender Differences in Body Composition, Lipid Metabolism, and Glucose Regulation. Sex Differences in Physiology. Chapter 9. 145-165.

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