Genetics, diet, physical activity levels, and sedentary behaviors all contribute to excess body fat. Carrying extra fat on your body is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So what is the best way to lose it? First, you will need to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). There are two types of body fat to be aware of. Then, let’s discuss how to get rid of it through a combination of diet, exercise, and setting attainable goals.
What is your body mass index?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in three adults are overweight, while two in five adults have obesity and one in 11 have severe obesity.
These numbers are calculated from your body mass index (BMI). To generate your number, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. That number will determine your classification.
A normal or healthy weight is a BMI of 18.5 to 29.9. Overweight is 25 to 29.9. Over 30 is classified as obese and over 40 is considered severe obesity.
Two types of fat
There are two types of fat in your body: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is located just beneath the skin. It’s the type of fat you feel when you poke your midsection. Around 90% of your body fat is this kind.
The other 10% is visceral fat. While the number may be smaller, it’s much more dangerous. Visceral fat is linked to many chronic health conditions. These include but are not limited to cardiovascular disease, dementia, and asthma.
Visceral fat is located beneath your abdominal wall. It surrounds your organs such as your liver and intestines. It’s stored in your omentum, which gets harder and thicker when filled with fat. The omentum is a fold of peritoneum extending from the stomach to adjacent abdominal organs.
So how do you get rid of these types of fats?
There are three key components: diet, exercise, and setting attainable goals.
A combination of all three will be your key to success.
What’s the best diet?
First off, ignore the fad or extreme diets. They’re unsustainable.
According to UCLA Newsroom, “people on diets typically lose five to 10 percent of their starting weight in the first six months... However, at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years.”
In order to properly lose fat long-term, you need a lifestyle change, not a short-term solution. The CDC published guidelines that outline a healthy eating plan titled “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 to 2025”.
These guidelines recommend focusing on nutrient-dense foods and staying within your calorie limits. So what is considered a nutrient-dense food? It is foods with little or no added sugars, saturated fat, or sodium that provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Be sure to eat foods in all food groups such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein. “Eat the rainbow” as they say. Try to eat as many colorful foods as you can.
Lastly, stay within your calorie limit. Calculate how much your body needs and adjust towards your particular goals.
How much exercise?
There are two types of exercise for fat loss and both are equally as important.
The first type is aerobic activity also known as cardio. These are exercises that increase both your heart rate and your breathing. This includes walking, running, cycling, even playing sports!
The second type of exercise is strength training. This includes lifting weights, using resistance bands, or using weight machines. Don’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises like crunches or push-ups.
Your new exercise routine doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be sustainable.
So the question remains, how much exercise do you need?
The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. The other option is 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. You can also try a combination of the two. The important thing is that you move.
For strength training, aim for two sessions a week working on all of your major muscle groups.
Ideally, your goal each day should be at least 30 minutes of activity.
Depending on your goals, such as losing fat, add more activity per week.
Set attainable goals
The last component to losing fat is simple. Set attainable goals.
Fat loss doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, often winding, process of eating properly and exercising. The best way to set yourself up for success is setting SMART goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
By setting SMART goals, you’re more likely to continue on your fat loss journey.
According to Positive Psychology, “goals help motivate us to develop strategies that will enable us to perform at the required goal level.”
You will be satisfied when you reach your goal. This can further motivate you to set even more goals, getting you closer to your ultimate goal.
Putting it all together
Losing subcutaneous and visceral fat isn’t easy.
But no lifestyle change is.
The first step is to measure your body fat. This will give you data to compare over time. You have a few options such as skinfold calipers, measuring your body or waist circumference, or using a body fat scale.
Measuring your body circumference helps determine your body fat percentage, as per the equations below. Note that you can also use an online body fat percentage calculator.
The equation for women: % body fat = 163.205 x log10 (waist + hip – neck) – 97.684 x log10 (height) – 78.387.
The equation for men: % body fat = 86.010 x log10 (abdomen – neck) – 70.041 x log10 (height) + 36.76.
Once you’ve determined your measurement, set your SMART goals.
Adjust your diet and exercise to attain your goals and lose body fat!
Excess body fat is linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
There are two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous. Visceral leads to many health problems such as cardiovascular disease and asthma.
To lose body weight long term, adjust your diet, exercise and set SMART goals.
Measure your body fat percentage to track your progress.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Overweight & Obesity Statistics.
Harvard Health. Taking aim at belly fat.
UCLA Newsroom. Dieting does not work, UCLA researchers report.
Centers for Disease Control. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 - 2025.
Heathline. 4 Ways to Measure Body Fat at Home.