Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lean and muscular... the new skinny.

One of my amazing PT clients Carolyn sent me this article last week. I myself was in this same scenario 5 years ago before I started training. I have battled with eating disorders, body dismorphia disorder and have tried EVERY diet and diet pill on the market. Sad but true. I was so worried about the scale, never wanted to lift any heavy weight and thought that eating 1200 calories with no fat was the best way to be healthy and stay "lean". Our society has created this crazy idea of what being healthy really is. We are women. We are supposed to have curves and beautiful muscle. Who cares what the scale says or what number size our jeans are. It's time to start focusing on what being healthy is truly all about! Take baby steps every day to live a healthy life. You owe it to yourself!


"Skinny Fat"...What it Means to Your Health!

It may seem like an oxymoron, but in reality, "skinny fat" could describe around 20% of all Americans. These are women that by all physical appearances, seem to be a normal weight, when in reality, they have altered or unhealthy body composition. A scarier word for this is "sarcopenic obesity". So, even though you may be able to fit into that ideal size six, you may also be carrying around too much fat in comparison to lean tissue (muscle). You probably are also unaware of what this can really mean for your long-term health.

This is also true for those that are struggling with excess weight. The latest statistics tell us that 66% of the U.S. adult population is overweight and over 30% is considered obese. So, we all need to be concerned about what are body composition is, whether young and skinny, or older and struggling with excess pounds. The scale is no longer the best indicator of who is really healthy.

You may be wondering, what causes us to have altered body composition in the first place? One of the biggest causes of excess fat accumulation is actually excess dieting! Eating too few calories and skipping meals is a perfect way for your body to hang on to fat and be forced to use muscle as energy. As you lose muscle mass your metabolism goes down which makes it easier for you to store more fat as you eat more calories. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Research is now showing that your percentage of body fat affects your risk for developing other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, back pain, and even Alzheimer's disease. Hormone balance can be affected by unhealthy body composition because estrogen is also derived from fat tissue. Estrogen imbalance has been linked to PMS, fibrocystic breasts, lupus, breast and prostate cancers, and erectile dysfunction. Even if you are a "skinny fat" person you are at higher risks for these diseases. The take home message is that we know now that are fat cells produce inflammatory chemicals and excess hormones that are causing problems for our health.

Muscle is the powerhouse of our metabolism helping us burn calories even when we sleep. Losing unhealthy fat is only one side of the coin; the other is maintaining and building healthy muscle mass. After age 20, we begin to lose a pound of muscle mass a year due to aging and stress factors, but we can stop this with the right diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

Courtesy of My Fit Foods Dietitian Meg McCall

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