Confessions of a well-intentioned, but misguided dieter
You know the number on the scale, you probably even know your body mass index, or BMI. But do you know your body fat percentage?
About a year ago, I took a good look into the crystal ball of my future health. Whoa – it wasn’t pretty and I certainly didn’t like what I saw waiting for me. Things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, and such were just around the bin. I could continue to sloth around the corner or I could stop and run in the other direction. Run is what I did – well, not literally but I did make some pretty significant dietary changes.
I buckled down, determined my BMI and set about changing that number. Mission accomplished! I strutted around proudly proclaiming my normal BMI number to anyone who would listen. Well, guess what! That’s only half the battle. You don’t have to be overweight to be over fat. Seriously?!
By now, most of us are familiar with the term “body mass index”. A BMI between 25-29 puts you in the overweight category and a BMI greater than 30 deems you obese. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in Kg by height in meters squared. But does it tell the whole story? It turns out that it doesn’t.
Simply weighing yourself on a regular scale is not necessarily indicative of your health progress because weight loss doesn’t always mean fat loss. Even if your weight stays the same, your body composition (the muscle to fat ratio) may be changing. Keeping tabs on body fat percentage instead of focusing solely on weight gives us a good understanding of what is happening on the inside of our body. This is important because excess body fat, not simply excess weight, is what has the greatest impact on our overall health and well-being.
All fat is not created equal. SAT (Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue) fat sits right below the skin – otherwise known as the dreaded muffin top. VAT (Visceral Adipose Tissue) fat wraps around the organs and spells trouble for your health driving up your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia. This is where the body composition analysis comes in handy. In only six painless minutes the Dexa scanner can separate the fat from the fiction to determine your body composition as the percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass.
Let’s face it, for most of us seeing is believing. Would you consider starting a weight loss journey without knowing what you weigh? Stepping on the scales (as painful as that may be) gives us a number, a starting point, something to measure our progress. One of the reasons we love before and after pictures is because we like to see progress and the bottom line is we can’t manage what we don’t measure.