For many Americans body fat makes up a significant portion of total body weight. Knowing exactly how much body fat you store relates to the fitness component known as body composition. The human body is comprised of different substances. For the purpose of fitness there are two categories: fat mass and muscle mass. A 150 pound person with 20% body fat has 30 pounds of body fat and 120 pounds of lean muscle mass. (Realistically, other components exist but are not listed separately in body composition analysis.)
Fat, also known as adipose tissue, is the storage form of energy from food. Based on genetics, your body stores fat in various locations and you have absolutely no say in the matter of where it goes. However, your eating and exercise decisions have a lot to say about how much fat is stored. Anytime you eat more food than your activity level burns it becomes fat.
The more active you are, and the more you limit food intake to your body’s needs, the harder it is for your body to store fat.
Muscle comprises the metabolically active part of your body. During exercise your muscles do the work that burns calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during any activity or even at rest. Because of its muscle-building benefits, resistance training is recommended in conjunction with aerobic exercise for losing body fat.
If you doubt that muscle-building is right for you, consider that overall muscle development reveals shapely muscles as body composition changes. Your whole body can appear tight and toned due to decreased body fat and increased muscle mass.
Fat is the component of flab and muscle is the component of shape and tone.
It is important to understand that the muscle itself has not become tighter, but bigger. The increased muscle size is what makes the body appear firm and toned. Therefore, a toned body is a muscular body. The image of pumped up body builders is not an accurate picture of how most people will look if they lift weights. Even if you are genetically predisposed to muscle growth you will be able to adjust your training to limit muscle-building before it exceeds your desired goal. People do not suddenly grows huge muscles by accident. It takes hours in the gym over many months and years. For many, it also takes supplements that may or may not be proven safe and effective.
A certain amount of body fat is necessary to sustain life and optimal health. In addition to being a source of energy, body fat provides cushioning and insulation. Body fat levels above 20% for men and 30% for women increase the risk for illness. In general, women store body fat below the waist and men store body fat abdominally. However, the location of fat stores is determined by genetics regardless of gender.
Contrary to popular advertising claims, fat stores are not reduced in specific areas according to exercise selection.
By shifting your body composition to favor muscle over fat you can drop inches and sizes without losing weight, or without losing as much as you think you need to. With realistic goals, a sound exercise program, a healthy diet and consistent motivation, you can lose extra body fat and achieve a healthier and leaner physique that fits into a smaller size.