The word FAT tends to be overused and incorrectly described for some individuals. Let's explore the word FAT.
In medical terms, the word fat is used to describe adipose tissue. This adipose tissue is stored for future use or over extended periods of time. The location of where this tissue is stored is not going to be the same for every individual. The deposit locations of adipose tissue depend on several different factors. These factors include genetics, areas of the body not readily accompanied with muscle or other body parts that aren't heavily engaged in activities of daily living. For example, for someone who is a web designer and spends 8-14hrs/day sitting in front of a computer may tend to have larger deposits of adipose tissue in their thighs and glutes than an individual who works on an assembly line at a factory.
So how do we know what is really fat vs. muscle?
This is where Fitness Assements come into play. These assessments help to analyze an individual's body fat percentage and gauge the appropriate protocol for attaining the ideal healthy weight. Too many people focus on the number of pounds they should 'lose'. Look at the percentage of body fat you have. *This can only be accurate if you have a professional take your body fat percentage for you*
Your body fat percentage should then be compared against a chart that serves as a guide for approximated healthy body fat percentage ranges.
Here's ACE's Body Fat Percentage Chart:
Here's a visual:
5 Pounds of Fat vs. 5 Pounds of Muscle
Note how much space the 5 pounds of fat takes up compared to 5 pounds of muscle.
Interpretting Your Body Fat Percentage:
Once a professional performs your fitness assessment, you can find out your body fat percentage. Once you have your percentage, how do you interpret how much you need to lose/gain to attain your ideal healthy weight?
Sample Fitness Assessment:
Let's say you are a 30 year old female weighing 130 pounds with 23% body fat.
Initial body fat: 130pounds x 0.23 fat = 30 pounds of body fat
Lean body mass: 130 pounds total - 30 pounds fat = 100 pounds lean body mass (bones, organs, muscle, essential adipose tissue etc.)
Instead of having a goal of losing x number of pounds, it would be better for this woman to have a goal of reducing her body fat percentage from 23% to 18%.
130 pounds x 0.18 = 23 pounds of body fat
100 pounds lean body mass + 23 pounds = 123 pounds Goal Weight
The more individualized and specific your fitness goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. A general weight loss goal is good for initial fitness but taking a fitness assessment will help determine solid numbers for tracking your fitness progress. Be sure to ask for a fitness assessment from your local certified professionals to jumpstart your fitness goals.